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Special Feature
On Leadership

Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to do so many things, including parachuting at West Point on my 80th birthday, traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan to speak to our troops, and flying with the famous Blue Angels in a sophisticated F-18. My pilot with the Blue Angels was Lt. Scott Beare, a man with whom I have since become very close friends. Lt. Beare and have shared our thoughts and opinions about leadership to each other.

Now, Let's talk a bit about the role of a leader and start out with a few paragraphs from Lt. Beare and Michael McMillan's book titled, "The Power of Teamwork: Inspired by the Blue Angels."

The Role of a leader carries a great honor and responsibility. First let's focus on those that cannot be leaders:

  • Someone who always makes excuses, or
  • someone who stays in the background and hides behind a desk.

Both Kenneth Blanchard Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson M.D. think that effective leadership starts in the heart: "Your heart controls your motivation, your intent, and your leadership character." They explained that, "Managers might set goals and then disappear until you screw up. Then they fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everybody and then fly out. They think that is great leadership. "

I started the Academy in 1976 with 6 to 8 coaches along with my close friend Mike Depalmer. Believe me, I did not know very much about starting an Academy but there were a few simple rules that I quickly learned when I was a paratrooper.

  • We always had a policy when part of a jump - an officer or a sergeant would always lead the jump or be the last to jump. I was an officer and understood why this was the policy. Let me share a story with you: On a particular jump, I was first. On our way to a drop zone, a young private was sitting next to me and asked me if I was going to jump. I said in a positive voice, "Yes." Even though I was scared to death, me knowing my role as a leader helped give him the confidence. He responded. "If you jump, I jump."
  • As our Academy began to expand, I realized how important it was that everyone receives the credit for a super practice. You perform - and succeed - as a team.

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