By Ms. Cristina Piosa (Benning)August 31, 2018
COLUMBUS, Ga. (Aug. 31, 2018) -- It was a full house at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia, for the closing of the four-day Centennial Leadership Symposium Aug. 30.
U.S. and International forces filled the theater to listen to Maj. Gen. Gary M. Brito, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, and the Teresa Tomlinson, mayor of the city of Columbus, discussed the importance of leadership, its application and characteristics, as well as women's equality within leadership.
"In the military we have one form of legitimate power," said Brito. "Your spoken word does give you some legitimate power: 'Do this because I said so.' I will tell you that is not the form of leadership that you want to go across your organization."
Brito continued to explain how a positive command climate can go a long way. Some individuals, according to Brito, begin developing leader-like qualities before they even join the workforce: at home, in high school, at church, and so on. Brito proceeded to identify three major categories of positive leadership: character, competence and candor.
"Character is something we need to have," he said. "The character of the Soldier, the character of the leader, and the character of the person is key. You really shouldn't expect others to emulate you or follow you if you have a weak character. When times are hard, when it is hard to make a decision, and the resources may not be there, when it is easier to do the wrong thing and harder to do the right thing, the character of the leader will motivate and inspire others to follow you."
Brito continued to engage with the audience by asking questions, and providing examples of how competence and the continuous will of a leader enhance the leader's skillset, allow everyone to achieve the success of the mission and are examples for others to follow.
"You have to be a great leader with character, a great person of candor, and give the very best leadership to your Soldiers and their Families," said Brito. "that is what they expect of you, and I do as well."
Following Brito, Tomlinson took the stage to focus on women's equality and how important it is in leadership.
"Women do not necessarily have it harder, we have it different," said Tomlinson. "There are certainly systemic societal norms that make our journey very difficult. All of us have our own journey, and our own story."
Tomlinson also described how the military itself has set a standard in this nation of inclusion, diversity and equal opportunities on every level. She also recounted her experiences as mayor of Columbus.
"I would say that having been a woman, elected leadership has been a challenge in some respects, and an asset in others," said Tomlinson. "It makes it more difficult to gain respect of the traditional power structure; it makes it easier to garner the respect and admiration of those, who because of their own journey, know the strength and character it took to overcome the inertia of tradition. Those folks trust and appreciate you as a leader and will support and defend you and will follow you because of your unique journey, because of your distinction."
The Centennial Leadership Symposium ended with an appreciation of not only the Fort Benning community and the partnership it has established throughout the past hundred years.
To learn more about the Centennial Leadership Forum, visit the "Related Links" section on this page.
For photos from the Centennial Leadership Symposium, also visit the "Related Links" section on this page.