FORT KNOX, Ky., – Keynote speaker Brig. Gen. James T. Iacocca, the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army and Executive Director of the Military Postal Service Agency, spoke with 6th Regiment Basic Camp (CIET) Cadets on how to become effective leaders in the Army and in life at Olive Theater on August 2.
“Be a leader with character,” Iacocca instructed. “Character is everything. General Dempsey, former 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talked about competence and character, and he said if he could only have one between the two, he would pick character over competence any day.”
According to Iacocca, integrity is critical in being an effective leader, especially as an Army officer.
“Integrity is the most important trait of a good leader. You will find that most of the good leaders get to where they are because they do the right thing even when it is unpopular. A lot of folks will bend to peer pressure because its easier, but integrity and commitment to doing what is good for the world won’t ever hurt you,” Iacocca said.
Cdt. Jeremiah Whitlow, Valley Forge Military College, native of Vicenza, Italy, said he feels like integrity is the most important trait an officer can possess.
“In my opinion, integrity is the main trait you need to have, especially as an Army officer. As an officer you have to make tough decisions and will be put in difficult situations, so you need to have the integrity to make decisions and do the right thing at all times,” Whitlow said.
Iacocca reflected about his early days as a lieutenant in the Army, and he offered personal leadership growth experiences and advice to the young Cadets during the keynote speech.
Whitlow said he appreciated the first-hand accounts from Iacocca because it gave him a better understanding on what to expect in the future.
“This was important to experience because it is a great introduction for people who haven’t been around the Army and will become leaders, and a more in-depth look for people who have been around the Army as well on what will be happening,” Whitlow said.
Iacocca gave a brief talk on leadership before opening up time for questions and discussion from the Cadets in the audience, giving everyone an opportunity to ask more questions on leadership and Army life.
At the end of the keynote speech, Iacocca was greeted with a round of applause from every Cadet present after the hour of discussion and reflection with him.