Dr. Rebecca Johnson, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood deputy to the commanding general, spoke May 12 during the Waynesville R-VI School District Leadership Team meeting, which in part, focused on professional development.

"Dr. Johnson is like the CEO of Fort Leonard Wood," said Dr. Brian Henry, Waynesville R-VI School District superintendent. "I've been so very impressed seeing her work over the years."

Henry, who leads 10 schools in the district that serves approximately 6,000 students, said he looked forward to hearing from Johnson, because she brings a different perspective to the District Leadership Team.

Johnson, Fort Leonard Wood's highest-ranking civilian, commended the district's team for what they do and for setting aside time to review principles of leadership, which "really apply to all organizations."

"There are some similarities between what we do and what you do in that we are training students," Johnson said. "We train about 85,000 students a year at our three major schools and Noncommissioned Officers Academy."

Johnson, who became the installation's senior executive in 2008, talked about Maj. Gen. Kent Savre's command philosophy, "mission first, people always, team of teams," as the foundation of how leaders at Fort Leonard Wood build teams.

She said the first step to building a team is that everybody on the team understands why the organization exists.

"We exist because we have a mission," Johnson said. "Without the mission, we'd go out of business."

"We have a great mission, but so do you," she said. "At Fort Leonard Wood we provide capabilities that protect and defend the United States so people can live their lives. You provide us with students who have the education to go live those lives. They are going to be able to live out the dreams of their lives. That's incredible."

Johnson then spoke candidly about the characteristics of a successful team and traits of effective team leaders.

Johnson said one thing leaders must do is balance individual perspectives and backgrounds.

"One of our jobs as leaders is really harmonizing conflict," she said. "I don't mean hateful conflict, I mean professional, constructive conflict that pushes us to think of better ways to do something. A little bit of conflict is good, because you think a little harder and you become more creative."

Johnson said shared
values, open communication, trust and honest feedback, are some of the conduits to encourage diversity of thought, work through challenges, and make everyone on the team feel appreciated.

"Trust can be gained or lost through our actions," she said. "You want to set people up for success, so you have to ask, 'What am I doing to encourage people and build trust?'"

Johnson reflected on leaders who influenced how she builds teams today.

"Think about a team you worked on, or a boss you worked for," she said. "Think about the great ones. What was it about the great one?"

"In 20 years from now, I'll still think about great people I've worked for," she said.

Johnson said great leaders set the conditions for success by being transparent and getting the team the resources, training and support they need.

"Great leaders give their people an opportunity to shine," she said. "Instead of taking the credit for themselves, great leaders take the time to commend and recognize their people. They know we all make mistakes and they are OK with honest mistakes. They know you can't always have everything perfect and you're going to try some things and sometimes you're going to have a few failures, but great leaders always have your back."

"That's what your people want. They want to be on that team," she said.