Network of Executive Women
, or NEW, reached out to Cincinnati area students with a real-life story of leadership by bringing a history-making general to Villa Madonna Academy.
U.S. Army Gen. Becky Halstead (retired), spoke to 7th through 12th graders this month at the Northern Kentucky school, sharing her experiences as a military leader in Iraq, highlighting discipline, service and higher education.
Gen. Halstead, who retired in from the Army 2008 after 27 years, was the first women in U.S. history to command in combat at the strategic level. As the senior commanding general for logistics in Iraq, she lead more than 200 multi-disciplined units across 55 bases, providing supply, maintenance, transportation and distribution support to more than 250,000 personnel serving in Iraq.
She also coordinated directly with high-level organizations such as the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of State, U.S. Congress, U.S. ambassadors and equivalent foreign military and civilian organizations.
The crucial message she wanted to get across to the students is that self-discipline is a must for strong leadership.
"They must lead themselves first before they can lead others, and they only way they can truly accomplish that is if they discipline themselves," she says.
Halstead is a West Point grad, and credited her academy experience with developing her early leadership abilities, based on personal discipline.
The Greater Cincinnati Chapter of Network of Executive Women, a consumer products and retail industry professional organization, says Halstead's perspective on leadership meshes with its core mission to educate and develop future industry leaders.
"We want to plant those seeds about leadership, and to make that connection about going to college," says Amy Armstrong Smith, NEW chair and national account manager at Brown-Forman.
The Villa Hills event is just one of others planned to reach out to students at area high schools and universities, Smith adds.
Gen. Halstead is a nationally known motivational and leadership speaker who's worked with organizations including Procter & Gamble, Lead America and Columbia University.
Though she has been in command of thousands during her career, she says it's important to serve first to become a great leader.
"That's what trains you to be obedient, and also really indicates that you care about others. If you don't care about others, if you're not willing to serve other people, then how can you expect them to follow you?" she says.
By Feoshia H. Davis
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