Leadership Perspectives: 50th SW SJA
By Lt. Col. Royal Davis, 50th Space Wing Staff Judge Advocate
/ Published November 07, 2018
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- How would you describe your leadership style?
I am definitely a coach/servant/mentor style of leader. My goal is to emulate the style of the great coaches I was able to train with as a biathlete, the instructors who taught me how to fly and the professors and bosses who taught me the law and how to lead. I consider the coach style leader to be the most effective because it embraces the goals of empowering your team while also allowing for the free exchange of ideas.
What was your motivation for joining the Air Force and where did you start your career?
My career started as an enlisted infantry soldier in the Army at Fort Benning, Georgia. I spent several years as a commissioned Army Aviator then transitioned into the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps in 2004. My decision to join was based almost exclusively on my grandmother who was a 36 year Air Force civilian who worked at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. It was her love for the Air Force that sparked an early interest for me.
What do you feel your strengths and weaknesses are?
Persistence. Every single endeavor I believe worthy of achievement required more than talent or brains, but rather a level of grit and fortitude to see it through. If there is a weakness, it would be that I second guess myself – don't second guess yourself.
What aspects of leadership are the most important to nurture?
Being a good listener, thinking strategically, empowering your team and doing what I term as “spherical leadership,” which is leading in all directions all the time. It takes more than being a good example for others to follow. What great leadership requires is the personal commitment to ensure everyone around you understands you are there to help. In other words, when your boss needs you to think ahead of the problem, do it. If your peers are struggling, find tactful ways to help. If your subordinates are in need of guidance, provide it.
What's some advice that you've received that's stuck with you?
Do not ever ask a subordinate to do something you are unwilling to do yourself. From the very beginning, it has always been my goal to actively place myself in other people's shoes. Some call this empathy, but I look at it as a fundamental aspect of what Hannah Arendt would term the “human
condition.” It is important to me as a legal professional and as a leader to ensure everyone around me understands I am not above doing the tough jobs.
What common trait do you think all successful leaders have?
The ability to care for people. It does not make any sense to have the authority that comes with being a leader without having the courage to direct that authority to support the members of your team. This does not mean excusing accountability when appropriate. What it means is having the fortitude to ensure that your team is able to benefit from your knowledge, experience and professional support every day. If my people cannot do their job, I'm not doing my job.
Is there anything else you would like to add about leadership?
Being a leader is not given, but earned. If you ever want to know if you are a real leader - lead volunteers. They will only follow you if you are truly a great leader vice your rank or position. If you are ineffective, they will leave. That is what I would commend to anyone - seek to have followers because you truly inspire them.