JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. - Good leaders are adaptable and have diversity of thought in their
actions and decisions, said Air Force Brig. Gen. Ondra Berry, the assistant
adjutant general for Air with the Nevada National Guard, during a mentorship
session at the Air National Guard Readiness Center earlier this week.
"It's not a one-size-fits-all approach,"
said Berry, during the session, which marked the first of several mentorship
sessions that are part of the Air National Guard's Diversity Council Speaker
Series. "If you don't have diversity of
thought, if you're not able to take in different information, if you don't have
critical, analytical thinking skills you're not going to be at your best."
Those are just one part of what Berry
described during his talk as the traits that make up good, strong leaders.
Inspiring growth is another key element, Berry said.
"The number one correlation to happiness
and success in any organization is when the leaders have an intentional plan
for growth," he said. "What are you reading? How are you developing yourself?
Have you gone back to school? What are you doing to grow yourself? That is the
number one way we get to happiness."
And for military members, said Berry,
that sense of personal growth and building the ability to lead goes beyond
simply attending schools that are part of the Air Force's professional military
PME is just minimum standards, according
to Berry. His advice to leaders was that
if they want to promote, they have to take the elite. "You have to pour into
yourself constantly if you want to get better."
Tying into that sense of growth also
involves working to get past your own constraints and building on new ideas.
"No organization rises above the
constraints of its leaders," said Berry. "If you have constraints, you can't
rise to the next level. If I'm not working on my constraints, I'm not going to
get any better."
And those that are unwilling to work past
those constraints and grow as individuals and leaders, aren't fit for
leadership positions, said Berry.
"If I don't deal with my constraints to
be a better leader, somebody else will have to," he said. "There's an impact on
the mission when I don't' improve or get better. If I don't deal with it,
somebody else will have to."
Remembering that as a leader, your choices
have far reaching effects is important, said Berry.
"The bottom line is people. Your decision
making impacts people," he said.
Berry said that elements of good and
effective leaders come down to their heart set, mindset, skill set and tool
"If your heart is not in the right place,
nothing else matters," he said, adding that leaders need to constantly add new
and better behaviors and approaches to their skill set as well. The mindset
aspect involves a continual re-evaluation of your belief systems while asking
what tools and resources do you have and can bring to bear. "
As a leader, I've got to be able to
adjust and adapt," he said, adding that an important element that needs to be
incorporated is strong and focused coaching of junior leaders.
"We have to build a culture of coaching,"
he said. "They have all this talent.
Who's coaching them?"
Even the most talented individuals and
leaders need coaching because coaches can see certain blind spots, said Berry.
"They can see your gaps and what you're
struggling with," he said. "When people get coached, they get better."
Coaching also involves having a passion
for what it is you're doing, said Berry.
"You have to have passion," he said. "Too
many are in roles and responsibilities and jobs and have no passion. When your
fire is out, you can tell. When you lose passion, when you stop growing, you
start aging and dying."
In the end, it's about remaining agile
and continually growing and encouraging others.
"Thriving means being agile, growing and
improving and capitalizing on new things," he said.
Change is always going to happen.
"Change is inevitable, growth is
optional," Berry said. "Change is going to happen. It's going to be thrown at
you. How well will you adjust and adapt?"
Berry also spoke at the National Guard
Diversity Conference held this week in Savannah, Georgia.