Leadership Challenge: What is the Honorable Leadership Response?

US Air Force

You may have been reading about the ongoing case currently in the news regarding Air Force airman, Luis A. Walker –

“SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A female Air Force airman has testified that a basic training instructor sexually assaulted her in his office at a Texas base and told her to keep quiet.

The woman told jurors at Staff Sgt. Luis Walker’s court-martial Tuesday that he ignored her pleas to stop while pulling her onto a bed in his Lackland Air Force Base office. She is the first of 10 alleged victims to testify. The Associated Press typically doesn’t identify alleged sexual assault victims.

Walker is charged with raping one female recruit and sexually assaulting or having inappropriate sexual or personal contact with nine others.

Walker denies the allegations.

He is among 12 base instructors who have been charged or who are being investigated in a burgeoning sex scandal. Walker faces the most serious charges.” **

USAF Basic Training Rape Accusations – What is the Honorable Leadership Response?

The Leadership Response

From a leadership perspective, what is the response to this serious issue? Lee Ellis, author of Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton, as well as a retired USAF colonel with specific focus in leadership development, responds to this case –

“This is a very sad story and a disappointing one for everyone. 

Although we don’t know the outcome of this trial and the accused is innocent until proven guilty, the allegations are strong, and provide an opportune time to reflect on some of the skills needed for leading with honor.  Two that come to mind are awareness and action.  Good leaders must know their people and know what is going on in their organization by being alert to small queues that things are awry. 

Like it or not, leadership involves social science. Alert leaders sense that something is off track and immediately begin searching for more details to confirm or clear up their suspicions.  If a problem is indicated, they initiate a process that will take it all the way to full accountability.  Good leaders also build a culture in which individual team members are alert and proactive about upholding their own the standards.  Loyal team mates, protect the honor of the team by holding mates accountable.

As a squadron commander, I got wind that one of my officers was using and possibly selling drugs.  There were enough questions to warrant further investigation so I called in the JAG (prosecutors) who agreed and brought in detectives (OSI) to run the case down. 

Within a few weeks, the individual was in jail and within a few months he had been court-martialed and sent to federal prison. Thankfully, these situations are the exception as the vast majority of our men and women in uniform do lead with honor by showing respect for others and what is right.

This serious problem at the basic training facility should prompt all of us to do an honor check on ourselves, our team mates and the leaders who serve in public, private, and government roles.”

What are your thoughts and comments on this case? Do you agree or disagree with Lee’s comments? Please share your experiences on leading with honor.


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Lee Ellis
Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: us4palin.com

**Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

One response to “Leadership Challenge: What is the Honorable Leadership Response?

  1. This is a very sad story but things like this tend to happen all of the time. Great leaders are always looking to protect the environment by picking up on clues that can lead to this. The accused should come clean because honesty is always the best policy. I’m pretty sure that many others know something but are afraid to come forward. Thanks for sharing and i hope that justice gets served in this case.


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