By Airman 1st Class Charles Welty, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published January 07, 2019
Steve Justice, To The Stars Academy aerospace division director, speaks during Air University’s Leadership Education Development eXperience (LEDx) Jan. 3, 2019, on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. In alignment with this year’s theme of “Diversity at the Intersection of Leadership, Strategy and Innovation,” Justice opened the event with his keynote on diversity of thought. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samuel Contreras)
Air University’s Air Command and Staff College Department of Leadership hosted its second annual Leadership Education Development eXperience (LEDx) last week, promoting the theme of “Diversity at the Intersection of Leadership, Strategy and Innovation.”
The two-day conference provided attendees with a blend of keynote addresses, TED Talk-style speaker presentations and interactive small-group lab sessions designed to promote an environment that fosters innovative and diverse thinking from a leadership perspective.
When not engaged in one of the formal events, participants were encouraged to continue the conversation and share their thoughts on what the theme’s message means to them.
“This year’s theme was intended to spark conversations and generate ideas,” said Col. Evan Pettus, ACSC commandant. “We invited speakers who could help (attendees) challenge their assumption about what each of these ideas mean. We believe that cognitive diversity and collaboration are critical components to helping us build leaders capable of adapting to future challenges.”
The event was intentionally designed with an unorthodox format, giving those in attendance the opportunity to build their own schedules to match their interests.
“Rather than sticking to a very military minded traditional format of sitting in a large auditorium for hours, we really wanted to build in opportunities for both the speakers and attendees to engage in discussions, possibly have respectable debates on topics and share ideas,” said Maj. Gregory Strong, ACSC instructor and lead coordinator for LEDx.
“The word “leadership” is difficult for some to define explicitly, and it means something different to people both in and out of uniform and across all ranks,” he said. “LEDx provides a mode for people to come together and understand that varying perspectives is a good thing, and we can all learn from each other.”
Straying away from a traditional military style format, LEDx aimed to open the minds of participants and encourage diversification of thought at all levels.
“We want people to come away from LEDx with an enhanced understanding of the value of varying perspectives related to leadership, innovation and strategy,” Strong said. “We see LEDx as a conduit to allowing people a few days to really step back, assess, engage and digest varying topics under the overarching theme of leadership. Specifically, there may be a topic or perspective that someone heard and completely disagreed with, but there is still tremendous value that can be gained from that perspective.”
Although hosted by AU, this event wasn’t only attended by Air Force personnel, but also members of all sister services, as well as many international officers and local civilian attendees, which created a unique forum for joint leadership collaboration.
“The very nature of this makeup serves to add value at the forefront; the Air Force gains a huge benefit from building relationships and partnerships while simultaneously engaging in conversations regrading topics related to leadership,” Strong added. “Obviously, all of us that serve receive a heavy dose of professional military education no matter what rank, and each of those PME sources certainly offer great opportunities to expand on leadership-related topics. However, LEDx seeks to build on those foundational focal points and allow people the opportunity to really hit the ‘pause button’ on the daily vigor of ops and share ideas. There is no exam, final paper or briefing to ‘pass’ LEDx. It is truly a reciprocating experience in that you really get out of it what you put into it.”
LEDx truly embodies the chief of staff of the Air Force’s three primary focus areas of revitalizing squadrons, strengthening joint leaders and teams and advancing multi-domain command and control, he said
“In order to revitalize, strengthen and advance, we must be able to come together with different perspectives and synergize in order to lead, innovate and strategize,” Strong added.
LEDx representatives said they are planning next year’s event. For more information, visit https://www.ledxau.com/