Leadership Moody; developing leaders through community partnership

  • Published
  • By Capt. Korey Fratini
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
The military has been viewed as an organization that produces great leaders like Colin Powell and James Mattis. 

But what makes the military an organization that produces these kinds of people? Is it something developed during their tenure of military service?

In 2016 Moody Air Force Base launched a program to specifically develop leaders. Over the course of the last nine months, 20 Airmen comprised of senior non-commissioned officers, field grade officers and equivalent civilians have participated in this new program called Leadership Moody. 

Participants in Leadership Moody gain insights from leaders in local government, education, athletics, industry, and non-profit organizations. Once a month they participated in a class day, which involved visiting various organizations and learning the best practices and challenges of leadership from non-Department of Defense perspectives. 

“I think it is one-of-a-kind for a base-level military organization. It’s a win-win when you think of community engagement and developing leaders in the Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Cynthia Kearley, 23d Wing Judge Staff Advocate and Leadership Moody cadre member.

Inspiration for Leadership Moody came from other similar programs in cities and communities across the U.S. When 23d Wing leadership, to include Col. Thomas Kunkel, 23d Wing commander, discussed the potential of such a program for military leaders and considered the strong relationship between the South Georgia community and the base, Leadership Moody was launched. 

“We saw these programs work in different cities and states and thought this could really work in the military,” Kearley said. “We were able to meet with the folks who run Leadership Tampa and Leadership Lowndes, two of the organizations that this was modeled after. So we were able to borrow their best practices for applications, interviews and sample itineraries for their class days.” 

A benefit of the city leadership programs is the opportunity to make connections with fellow professionals and community leaders. 

“In Leadership Moody we are networking across Air Force career fields with fellow class members, while experiencing how many of the leadership principals we have embraced in our roles are applied in non-DoD settings,’ Kearley said. 

During the nine-month course, Leadership Moody visited with various leaders from organizations across the South Georgia community. Ranging from leaders in healthcare such as those at South Georgia Medical Center, educational leaders at Valdosta State University, and local government leaders from the city of Valdosta, Ga., each provided the class with different perspectives.

“Leadership Moody has afforded me an opportunity to establish relationships with a diverse group of community leaders,” said Senior Master Sergeant Mary Twitty, 23d Contracting Squadron superintendent, and Leadership Moody class member. “Through this experience I have been privy to a multitude of senior leaders within our community and discussed a variety of solutions to similar concerns the military face every day.

“The participatory, respectful and visionary leadership insight provided was shared through real experiences and definitely expanded my toolbox,” Twitty added. 

What makes Leadership Moody so unique is the insight the class members gain from learning about leadership from those outside the military. Kearley noted that there are many parallels in the leadership challenges of military and civilian organizations, but there are also differences in approaches and solutions to those challenges, which provide valuable takeaways that can be applied to the military. 

According to Kearley, the community has also been extremely supportive of Leadership Moody. Organizations have reached out wanting to participate and share their knowledge and experiences with Air Force leaders. 

“Community leaders enjoy sharing what their organization contributes to the local community and they appreciate that the military is taking time to hear their leadership insights,” Kearley said. “In addition class members learn about community resources and programs that can benefit the troops they lead. They become more informed leaders.”

Every Leadership Moody class day ends with an opportunity for the class members to get together and share what they learned and how those lessons could be applied to the Air Force. It is in these discussions where feedback and real takeaways occur. 

“I have enjoyed all the suggestions and techniques other leaders shared through their experiences, not only in the wing, but within the community as well as with lessons learned,” Twitty said. “By being a part of this development program, it has allowed me to learn their language and get a sense of what’s important to them, what their agenda is about and understand their leadership behaviors that have made them successful within their organization and business.”

Development of leaders at all levels in the Air Force is important. Leadership Moody has provided military members with a non-traditional way of looking at leadership in the Air Force. The approach of bringing Team Moody leaders into the community gives class members a different outlook they may not have seen or thought of before. 

Kearley’s hope is that this program will inspire other bases to start similar programs in their communities because of the valuable insights that the community can provide and the network among class members. 

“There is an alumni connection that is important to all of these programs and Leadership Moody is no different,” Kearley said. “Regardless of their next assignments, Leadership Moody Class of 2017 will remain connected to the community surrounding Moody and to each other throughout their Air Force careers.”

Editor's Note:  Leadership Moody has a companion class called Emerge Moody for more junior emerging leaders on base where the class days focus on hands-on experiences with the various missions around the base.