Tuesday, September 11, 2018
LeRoy Weeks, the Corps Commander from the Class of 1988, returned to the R-MA campus during the Air Force JROTC Summer Leadership School--or “Cadre Camp” as it has also been called. He inspired the cadets with words of wisdom about the lessons he learned at R-MA and in his life that have served him well in leading others.
Weeks grew up in the Bronx, New York. His mother originally sent him and his late brother, Steven, to Augusta Military Academy. When it closed in 1984, they transferred to R-MA. After graduating in 1988, Weeks attended The Citadel, the Military College of the South, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. But he wasn’t done. He went on to earn a master’s degree in human resources, from Mercy College in New York, and then a second master’s degree in public administration from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The next planned step was to go to law school, which he did three nights a week. But being married and having one child with another on the way, Weeks decided to spend his precious time being a father, and he left law school.
“As you’ll soon discover, there are many ironies in life,” he told the students. “While I’m a law school drop-out, I happen to work in the federal government as a deputy director of the National Case Assistance Center (NCAC).” In this position, Weeks has more than 300 attorneys who answer to him.
Weeks encouraged the cadets to appreciate and take advantage of the opportunities at R-MA. “You guys are getting lessons in leadership, aerospace science, that will set you apart from those who don’t come here,” he said. “The military school difference is just that. You are held to a higher standards. The expectations for you are higher. If you meet those expectations, as you leave this hill, you will be better for it.”
After recommending the students focus on their communication skills, Weeks spoke about passion and commitment to the mission. “Be happy about doing the job that you’re doing,” he said to the cadre. “That bleeds through in terms of how you do your job. If you’re a squadron commander, the more at peace you are with what you’re doing, the more value you are to your flight commanders. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you do the best at it.”
He also recommended the student leaders be positive, even when faced with challenges. “Okay, that didn’t go my way, but what can I learn from it? What sort of things can I pick up from this moment, that will bring me forward?” he said, giving them a way to turn around a challenge.
Weeks said the students at R-MA have the opportunity to be innovative as leaders, a leadership skill he believes is often overlooked. “Don’t ask why, ask why not?” he suggested. He went on to talk about the importance of teamwork. “I don’t care how good you are...there is always a team behind, beside every endeavor.”
Weeks expertly related his topics to what the cadre would be dealing with in a few days. He broached the idea of servant-leadership, giving the example of how they would soon be dealing with students who had never been away from home and were homesick. He stressed how important it was that the cadre see to their needs and do all they could to make them welcome and comfortable.
“When people feel that you care about their well-being, you care about their needs, they tend to rise up and do much for you. Why? Because you care,” he said simply. “If you care about your folks, they will show their care back to you by performing the way you’d like them to. And all you have to do is ask.”
Weeks talked of his experience at R-MA, and how holding the squadron leaders responsible for the performance of their flight commanders was similar to how he manages now. He also encouraged the students to support their subordinates while holding them accountable, giving concrete examples of how to offer encouragement and praise before explaining what needs to be fixed.
Weeks gave praise to the faculty and staff of his time and expressed appreciation for what they had taught him, then encouraged the cadre to get the same from the current faculty and staff. “If you really, really take a moment to know their knowledge, their skills, their education, and their experience...man, that’s good stuff!” he exclaimed.
At the conclusion of his presentation, Weeks promised to return at Homecoming to see how the cadre were doing.
You can view Weeks’ entire speech below. (Please excuse the sound quality; we had some technical difficulties.)