By James Branch, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 25, 2015
DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- A key member of the Air Force Reserve’s management team and one of its more senior officers hosted a roundtable discussion on the principles of effective leadership with 21 Atlanta area civic and business leaders March 25 at Headquarters, 22nd Air Force, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga.
Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris, 22nd AF commander, shared her thoughts on servant leadership which spanned more than three decades of service to the U.S. Air Force with the group representing several members of Northwest Georgia’s business community.
The forum was part of Leadership Cobb—a Cobb Chamber of Commerce program that selects diverse, qualified individuals and provides a learning environment that enhances both personal and professional growth to benefit the community and its region.
Lisa Crossman, Leadership Cobb CEO Small Group committee chairwoman, described why Harris was chosen to instruct this session.
“General Harris is not only an accomplished military leader, overseeing more than 15,000 military personnel and 107 aircraft, but she is also a commercial airline pilot,” said Crossman. “I am inspired not only by her accomplishments, but her commitment to lifelong learning, leadership and community service.”
With the 2015 class theme, “Leadership for a Lifetime,” Harris described her personal leadership journey, including times in her career when she had to make decisions that may not have been the most popular, but were in the best interest of her organization. She also discussed the concept of servant leadership.
“In the Air Force, we have three core values; Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do,” said Harris. “Following these will keep a leader on the straight and narrow.”
At the headquarters level, our focus is to serve our subordinate units and the needs of our AFRC Hq, she added.
Harris spoke of her current and past leaders, and how they promoted servant leadership.
“Great leaders are humble, and are constantly looking for and grooming others to fill their positions when they move on,” said Harris. “They have a vested interest in other’s success.”
When asked of how she leverages servant leadership with holding subordinates accountable, Harris replied, “With delegation and checklists.”
“Leaders have to know when to delegate,” she said. “Assign detailed tasks, and follow up on the progress of those tasks. Checklists are great. Performing tasks from memory can sometimes lead to forgetting an important step which could result in a mishap” using piloting as an example, Harris explained.
With the amount of her command responsibility, class members wondered how the general avoids overwhelming herself and what she does to minimize stress.
“Take time for yourself,” said Harris. “As leaders, if we stress ourselves out, we are no good to the members that serve with us. In the Reserve, we have a triad—military duty, civilian job, and family. If any of these pillars are broken, our Airmen cannot perform at their highest level”
Harris concluded by reminding the class of the importance of integrity.
“Always stay true to yourself,” said Harris. “As a pilot for many years in a male dominated field, I’m not one of the guys, but I’m always one of the crew. Everyone has something unique that they bring to their organization.”
In addition to the armed services, members of Leadership Cobb also attend sessions in economic development, politics, education and public safety.