Story by SGT Stephanie Ramirez on 04/20/2017WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY, N.C. - In today's fast-paced environment, it is hard for future leaders to determine what are their strengths and weakness their core technical competencies.
They need to be able to determine early on those skills that will make them competent, keep them focused, and display the leadership traits that signal to the world they own the outcome and responsibility for delivering results.
Those were some of the messages the commanding general of America's Army Reserve had for cadets and students during his speech at the Wake Forest University School of Business in Winston Salem, North Carolina, April 18, 2017.
During his conversation-style talk, Lt. Gen. Charles D. Luckey, Chief, Army Reserve & Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command, led an engaging discussion with the audience about leadership and professionalism, giving them an insight into what it's like to be responsible for over 200,000 Soldiers, spread across 20 different time zones.
Wake Forest's law school has used the "Conversation with..." format for campus visitors over the past decade as a way of creating a comfortable and interactive atmosphere with the students, rather than having a scripted conversation. The university's business school chose to use the same model for Luckey's visit.
Matthew T. Phillips, an associate teaching professor at Wake Forest, acted as moderator.
"When we get the chance to bring in a speaker who can help the students and cadets understand what it means to work with a professional identity, and what it means to steward the profession that you are working in, we jump at the opportunity," said Phillips. "We were really excited about (Luckey's) visit and all of the extraordinary experiences he would bring to the table."
In order to illustrate what it takes to be a successful leader, Luckey shared his own experiences.
"In order to be successful I have to leverage the power of the team," he said. "This isn't about 200,000 Soldiers working for me, this is about me working for 200,000.
"To command a formation of this size I give very clear guidance to the team as to what I expect and what they can expect from me. (However), I don't think it matters whether its 200,000 people or three people, the empowerment comes from the leader laying out the guidelines, and letting his team make the decisions based on the guidance."
While visiting the university, Luckey, also had a smaller Q&A session with several ROTC cadets. During this session, they asked him for advice on how to discuss concerns about a mission with senior leaders while still being junior officers.
Luckey told them that leaders in the modern age have to be measured, have to be able to think critically, and have to reason their way through any situation. So, in order to have the confidence to tell a senior leader they might be wrong, having a solid understanding of the mission and one's technical skills will empower them to tactfully address such situation.
The cadets also asked questions about the culture of the Army, the differences between the active component and the reserve component and the things Luckey wishes he knew before enlisting in the military.
2nd Lt. Chris Salemme, a law student at Wake Forest University, said when he heard about Luckey visiting the university it wasn't an opportunity he wanted to pass up.
"These events allow future leaders to hear first-hand from those whose roles they will be assuming later in their careers," he said. "The experiences of senior leaders like Luckey, the successes and struggles alike, provide future leaders the opportunity to consider how they will be able to best serve those they lead."