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Retired Air Force general uses storytelling to teach leadership skills

  • Published
  • By Airman Rachel Simones
  • 178th Wing Public Affairs
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Loren Reno visited Springfield Air National Guard Base to provide leadership insight to the Airmen of the 178th Wing, Jan. 9, 2016.

Reno told stories of his successes and failures during his time as a leader in the Air Force. Through his stories, he illustrated different leadership principles that he found to be valuable to the development of Airmen.

Reno illustrated his most important leadership principle, "the greatest is the servant," by telling a story about holding a commander's call at midnight for the Airmen who often missed out on interacting with leadership due to working the night shift.

Although the chili that Reno cooked for the commander's call was not a huge hit due to the overload of cayenne pepper he misguidedly added, he learned that servitude motivated the Airmen under his leadership.

"Leadership is the act of inspiring others to perform at a higher level in accomplishing a worthy goal," said Reno.

Reno taught the leadership principle of justice, mercy and humility by telling a story about saving a young Airman's career.

The Airman had failed three aircraft maintenance tests and his supervisors had recommended he be discharged from the Air Force. Reno saw potential in him, though, and moved him to the security forces career field.

"If you stay humble you'll be able to balance justice and humility," said Reno.
Years later, that Airman was a master sergeant when he met Reno while deployed. He thanked him for saving his career years earlier.

Reno also discussed the importance of sharing the credit and shouldering the blame.

"Leaders have to do hard things," he said. "The biggest impact can come at the most difficult of times."

He emphasized that reading to expand knowledge, setting the course, showing accountability, and seeking to serve were key leadership maneuvers.

"'The greatest serves' and 'seek to serve' were really great quotes [from Reno] that resonated the core value of service before self, and really encompassed the idea of leadership in any environment," said Airman 1st Class Sean Hummel, a member with the 178th Wing.

Reno's career began when he graduated from Cedarville University. He received his commission in 1974 after graduating Officer Training School.

Throughout his military career, he had 20 assignments and earned 10 major awards and decorations.

Reno's final assignment in 2009 was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support, Headquarters, U.S. Air Force.

Reno succeeded in his military career and in the civilian business community. In 2012, he was named the inaugural dean for his alma mater, the Cedarville University School of Business Administration.

Reno's experience in management, policy setting, preparing budget estimates, combat readiness, and ensuring the quality of life for service members in the Air Force fostered his leadership skills.

"...every rank from Airman to other generals can walk away having learned something new, and acquired a new idea and goal of leadership," said Hummel.