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NEWS | March 23, 2018

JB Charleston Airmen become Students of Leadership

By Staff Sgt. William A. O'Brien Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The Joint Base Charleston Professional Development Council hosted the inaugural Students of Leadership Seminar at the Charleston Club here, March 15, 2018.

The monthly Students of Leadership forum fosters discussions to help NCOs develop their leadership styles amongst their peers.

“I’m hoping to create cross talk between career fields,” said Master Sgt. Danny South, 16th Airlift Squadron loadmaster superintendent.  “In the Air Force we’re very tribal. We talk to leaders from other career fields to discuss challenges we face. When we get together like this, we can see many of those challenges are very similar.”

Each month the event begins with a video on a different aspect of leadership and will be followed by an open discussion on that topic. Long hopes these discussions create meaningful dialog which may be beneficial to participants when making future decisions.

“When I look back at any PME I have attended in my career, I don’t remember what the training objective was for the day. However, I do remember discussions I had with my peers and how they tied back to those points. That’s what I’m hoping to foster here,” said South.

This month’s theme was learning from failure. The group watched a TED Talk hosted by retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal. In his discussion McChrystal talked about his own failures and the importance of leaders allowing their subordinates to fail in order to learn from it and grow. He also emphasized the importance of building confidence and trust up and down the chain of command and rebuilding that trust and confidence when things don’t go right.

“Hearing such relatable and human topics from successful leaders is inspiring,” said Tech. Sgt. Albert Romain, 437th Aerial Port Squadron traffic management office section chief. “As a lower ranking member, it reminds me we’re all susceptible to making mistakes throughout our careers and we can recover from them.”

Following the video, South led a group discussion. Participants shared their points of view relating to the topic based on their own experiences. Romain felt the opportunity to share lessons from past experiences was valuable because others who are facing similar situations can learn from what has already been done and avoid making similar mistakes.

“It’s very important to listen to our peers. We learn from subordinates and superiors, but we can also learn horizontally from our peers,” said Romain. “Meeting together and sharing challenges can help us in the future. When I get to a mountain, I might not have to face the same pitfalls because I was able to prepare me for them.”

South was happy with the event’s turnout and hopes to continue to build on it through word of mouth. He says more than attendance, he hopes to create a dialog between leaders across the base.

“My goal going forward is for the seminar attendance to grow,” said South. “These 30 people are going to go back to their work centers and they’re either going to tell people it was a waste of their time, or they’re going to say ‘it was beneficial. I’m going to try to go to the next one.’ The people who found it beneficial are all going to bring a friend next time.”