The Daily Gamecock

Air Force official talks leadership with cadets

Maj. Gen. Lawrence Wells: ‘It’s about what you do for others’ Read More


Maj. Gen. Lawrence Wells wasn’t always particularly fond of flying.

Now one of the highest-ranking officials in the U.S. Air Force, Wells began in a training plane, the T-37, and his instructor sat right next to the pilot — and constantly yelled about every mistake he made.

Speaking to a group of about 50 Air Force ROTC cadets, Wells discussed his background, his experiences in the military and his advice on how to become a better leader.

He began with his family. Both of his parents were in the military, and that influenced him to enter the Air Force Academy.

He graduated in 1978 and said that while he was there, he “spent four years being a mediocre to poor cadet.”

When Wells graduated, he “didn’t understand leadership,” he said, but all that began to change when he went to flight school after graduation.

It was there that he began enjoying flying.

The T-37 was replaced by the T-38 as the standard training plane.

In that plane, the training instructor was seated in a separate cockpit, behind the pilot.

“I had never been alone and in charge of myself,” Wells said.

That feeling, he said, “gave me a joy.” That’s when Wells finally found his calling.

Shortly after that first flight in the T-38, he rose up the ranks.

He was soon offered the opportunity to become one of the first six Air Force pilots to fly an F-16.

“If I had been a better cadet, I wouldn’t have been flying the F-16,” Wells said.

As he rose through the ranks he soon became a squadron commander.

“I learned as commander to take care of everybody ... (and to) work as a unit,” he said.

From there, he began flying U-2 reconnaissance planes at 80,000 feet, wearing $250,000 suits as he did so, he said.

“You fly so high you can see the curvature of the earth,” Wells said.

But after a few years, Wells began driving the pilotless Global Hawk; his last deployment was flying a refueling plane in the Middle East.

On assignments like that, “it’s all about teamwork,” he said.

Good leaders, Wells said, are people who motivate, develop, recognize and inspire the people around them.

“It’s not about you,” he said. “It’s about what you do for others.”


Trending Now

Send a Tip Get Our Email Editions