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Five Minutes to Thrive: What makes a good leader: nobility

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

Lt Gen Steven Kwast, AETC/CC, was the Commander of Air University at Maxwell AFB in 2015. At that time he delivered one of the most inspiring and profound admonition to future AF leaders on what it truly means to lead. He espoused four key pillars of character required of all successful leaders: nobility, humility, courage, and compassion. In that we are all leaders in some form, at some time, and with some people—and because the development of these traits is a journey, rather than something with which we’re born—the next several 5M2T's will focus on each of these important characteristics, in turn. First up this week: Nobility.


If you’re like me, when you hear this word, your mind immediately flashes to images of royalty. The connotation is deliberate; early monarchs (but certainly not all) were chosen for their noble character, for the virtue they demonstrated in their dealings with others, for their unquestioned integrity reinforced by their moral actions, and for the goodness with which they treated everyone under their influence.


Have you ever read the book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, of the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis? If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you know that these four children were unexpectedly thrust into regal positions which required them—like it or not—to act with nobility. Sometimes, they succeeded; other times they fell short. Likewise, at any given time certain (anticipated or unexpected) circumstances may call upon us each to assume a (formal or informal) role requiring the trait of nobility. In this, we must choose to do what is right over what is easy. We choose to work late to finish the job, and to thus sacrifice time with our families. We take the extra time to mentor a fellow Airman who is clearly struggling but who doesn’t yet have the courage to ask for help. We go out of our way to help a stranger, because it’s the right thing to do. We hold others accountable—and we hold ourselves to the same standards (better yet, we set the example)…and we do it without an ego.


- Accept your nobility. We all have the capability, but first we must make the commitment. Look no further than the Air Force Core Values as a guide: by pledging yourself to Integrity first, Service before [your]self, and Excellence in all [you] do, you begin to grasp nobility.


- Demonstrate your virtues (and integrity to them). This boils down to both talking the talk AND walking the walk. Let others know where you stand on the important issues (i.e. work ethic, teamwork, physical fitness, etc.), show them the standard, and then help them attain it.


- Seize the call to action. You never know which crucial moments will make a resounding impact on someone’s life; often, they’re the events you wouldn’t suspect! Carpe diem to make a difference for someone else. It only takes a little extra effort, applied regularly over time, to have an indelible influence on another’s journey.

(Any media or pop culture references in this commentary does not constitute endorsement by any component of the U.S. Air Force or Department of Defense)

For questions, contact Dr. Ashley Kilgore at ashley.c.kilgore.mil@mail.mil or the Minot Mental Health Clinic at 701-723-5527

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