ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Bison student-athletes Cori Thielemann, Alex Wallace and Ryan Johnson along with head women's rowing coach Stephen Kish are in Annapolis this week attending the USNA Leadership Conference. Earlier this week, women's lacrosse teammates Thielemann and Wallace offered accounts from the first three days of the conference, and today Ryan Johnson of the men's track and field team checks in. In addition to being a sophomore middle distance runner and a member of Bucknell's Patriot League champion distance medley relay a year ago, Johnson is also a member of the Bucknell ROTC and the Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy.


Ryan Johnson from the USNA Leadership Conference -- Day 4

Ryan JohnsonOn the final day of the leadership conference we left from the beautiful Westin Hotel in Annapolis, Maryland and headed back to the Naval Academy. We broke up into our small groups and conducted our third breakout session. Each breakout session provided the mortar for the building blocks of ideas we learned from previous keynote speakers and panel discussions. The emphasis of this group discussion was about the continuing and emerging leader. We discussed the art of followership in its many forms. We found that there is no clear definition of leadership and followership, but rather a set of virtues that lead to greatness. Humility, confidence, courage and compassion are among the virtues we all strive for. People do not care how much a leader knows until they know how much the leader cares. Putting others first and empowering individuals allow for organizations, both civilian and military, to flourish. This breakout session provided the capstone to a spectacular series of debates where we all could come together and express our ideas about leadership and followership.

After a quick break we were graced by the presence of General John R. Allen, former commander of the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) and the United States forces in Afghanistan from July 2011 to March 2013. The main goals of his campaign were to relentlessly pursue and pressure the enemy as well as to accelerate the process of integrating the Afghan security forces within the country. He encouraged us as future leaders to set the conditions where followers can emerge as leaders. He said followers provide a vision for leaders, which creates unity of command, effort, and purpose. General Allen emphasized setting a moral standard wherever we went because leaders have a moral obligation to set the culture for followers, and all followers have a moral obligation to lead, live, and teach. He said that a leader is a commander, a parent, and a teacher. A commander accomplishes the mission through enduring intent and relentless effort, a parent provides a nurturing environment, and a teacher builds students through instruction. General Allen’s closing remarks provided a great summary of all lessons from the United States Naval Academy Leadership Conference by stating that all great leaders are prepared to follow in their leadership, and all great followers are prepared to lead in their followership.

Very Respectfully,

CDT Ryan Johnson, U.S. Army ROTC

Bucknell University Class of 2016

Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy Member