Resilient Leadership Intro

Resilient Leadership Intro

By MCF_Admin

DCD2016Air Commodore (now Air Vice Marshal) Alan Clements, then Commandant Australian Defence Force Academy, speaking at the Defence Christians’ Dinner in 2016:

Your upbringing, those experiences you’ve had as a young man or woman, certainly shape how you think about things. If I just look at who I am – a son, brother, husband, father, man, Christian, in the military – all these things influence me in the way I think. Looking at those who were great role models in my childhood, I can remember two school teachers who were great mentors because they built you up; they didn’t just continually criticise you. Those are the types of things that shape you as a person and then shape the way you think about leadership. As a young man I didn’t go to church beyond the age of about 12, so I didn’t have a strong Christian influence early on in my life; but I did have a Dad who was compassionate and worked hard, and a Mum and a Dad who loved me for who I was. I think those things shaped me as a leader and as a person as I grew.

There wasn’t much in terms of Christian influences early on in my military career. Then, at a time when I was instructing at Point Cook, there was a young man, one of my students who I was teaching to fly. There was this calmness and confidence about him. He was a great young pilot; exceptional at what he did. In fact, every time I showed him something, he did it better than I; so it was quite embarrassing. During this time of talking to him and getting to know him as a person, he just wore his faith openly. Not through telling everybody every minute of the day, but just by the way he treated people, by the way he acted; by the way he had the confidence in himself. It was really quite inspirational at the time. Through that we struck up a very strong friendship.

I kept that friendship going and we ended up flying F-18s together. When I was appointed Commanding Officer of 77 Squadron, I selected him as the Executive Officer. During that time our friendship continued to grow and his faith was again in front of everyone; very strong and very committed. One day he told me he was talking at church that Sunday. “Would you like to come along?” It was Fathers’ Day, so I did. I realised I believed, put my hand up at the altar call, and made the move forward. It was certainly a challenging time for me, emotionally and mentally, trying to get my head around what I’d just said and done.

Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had met a Pastor’s daughter at school. Through their friendship, she and my wife Helene started attending church – a different church. This is one time I listened to my wife, and so we started attending that church in Newcastle.

This is how AIRCDRE (now AVM) Clements introduced himself in preparation for his talk on “Resilient Leadership” at the 2016 Defence Christians’ Dinner. A fighter pilot is one of the most ‘macho’ professions, but Clements shares how relying on what others thought of him led to depression. His experience in the Defence Force and as a Christian taught him six values that he believes develops Resilient Leadership. The transcript has been published as an article which will appear in Crossfire Magazine, edition 28 (Now published here). The friend he spoke of above is SQNLDR Paul Simmons, who has an article in that same edition of Crossfire.

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