WEST POINT, N.Y. (Aug. 29, 2012) -- Thirty-two top cadet leaders from service academies across the country including the U.S. Military, Naval, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine Academies attended the annual Robert T. Stevens Service Academies Leaders' Conference that Aug. 27 at Eisenhower Hall and spent four days attending seminars and workshops on leadership.

They attended seminars and form group discussions with their academy counterparts and discussed leadership styles, diversity, effective communications, learning the similarities as well as differences in leadership styles and the effectiveness of the various styles.

Class of 2013 Cadet Brenna Heisterman, 2nd Regiment commander, thinks the seminars will help her develop her leadership style.

"The seminars give us a chance to self-reflect and look at the way we want to approach leadership," Heisterman said. "I think that compassion, honor and integrity are the best qualities one can have as a leader."

In the first seminar, cadets went through a number of exercises to help them learn about themselves and each other. Five different psychological systems were used such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, which measures psychological preferences in the way individuals view the world and how they make their decisions.

The attendees also were asked to draw a coat of arms that represent who each was, such as indicating something no one knows about the individual or something they have done at their academy that they are proud of. After completing the task, they were asked to introduce themselves, talk about their drawing and discuss what key leadership challenges they are facing.

Midshipman Alexander Donaldson, Class of 2013 and second regimental leader at the Naval Academy, talked about his challenges.

"My key challenge is organization," Donaldson said. "I could have a Ph.D. in procrastination and need to learn to balance time, but other than that, I would like to go into Navy Aviation after graduation."

Class of 2013 Coast Guard Academy Cadet Lydia Monks already has an idea of what her leadership style is.

"I think leadership is about setting an example," Monks said. "(A leader) should be down to earth and listen with empathy and always be honest. With honesty, those that you lead will learn to trust you and are more likely to follow."

Monks said she wants to go into law enforcement or possibly law school after graduation.

"The conference is the first time that the designated leaders from each academy meet in a quasi-official role," retired Lt. Col. Barry Berglund, who has led the Leaders' Conference for 19 years, said. "While some may have met as exchange cadets or at an athletic event, the Stevens Program affords an opportunity to both learn more about each other's leadership styles, but also as a venue to look at the challenges each of these leaders will face in leading their respective academy."

Although most attendees have had some level of self awareness development through study of their respective behavioral science and leadership curricula, the Stevens Program allows these new leadership teams an opportunity to understand the styles that each brings into their roles.

"It also allows the academy representatives an opportunity to learn from each other with regard to the uniqueness of their respective academy, but also those common themes," he said. "This becomes especially important for the USCGA and USMMA----smaller academies----with vital peace and wartime missions," Berglund said.