INA, Ill. – Local Army National Guard Maj. Greg Settle delivered his resolute views on leadership to a packed class of criminal justice students Wednesday at Rend Lake College.
Settle, originally from Waltonville, leads 685 soldiers as the Operations Officer at the ANG’s 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment Headquarters in Marion. He enlisted right out of Waltonville High School, completed basic training with honors, and received his officer commission after completing the ROTC Advanced Camp through Southern Illinois University - Carbondale where he earned a bachelor’s degree. Settle was promoted to First Lieutenant two years later, became a Captain in 2006 and accepted the rank of Major this past April.
With 16 years of service, and tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 33-year-old has earned numerous decorations, including three Bronze Stars. While moving up the ranks, he learned a thing or two about how to lead and how not to lead, he said. Admittedly, he learned more from the bad leaders.
“Everyone probably thinks of something different when they hear the word leadership,” Settle said to the class. “You’ve probably had experiences with both good and bad leaders. I know I have.”
A born leader.
Settle shared his belief that leaders are born, not made. Just as he is not cut out to be an offensive lineman for the St. Louis Rams, he said, some individuals are not born to be leaders.
“It takes hard work and dedication,” he said. “Nothing is going to get handed to you in this world. That, I can guarantee you.”
Style is everything.
“Be who you are. Use what works for you. Don’t try to be someone you are not,” he told them. “It’s your style ... what you know, that defines you as a leader.”
He offered more advice, saying his leadership style takes into account treating others like he would want to be treated, remembering everyone is different, and not forgetting to understand the environment he is in before he acts. He also talked about what he calls “tough speak,” and used a situation of removing someone from a leadership position as an example.
“As leaders, you have to do the right thing for the good of the organization,” said Settle.
“Carry your own rucksack,” he told them. “Don’t expect your subordinates to do something you are not willing to do yourself.” He also encouraged them to maintain their technical and tactical proficiency, which he said can be difficult to balance with the demands of a new leadership role.
Settle ended his presentation with a question and answer portion, and a slideshow of photos from his tours abroad.
Criminal Justice Instructor Ron Meek has organized a series of guests to present on the topic of leadership. Prior to Settle, the class heard from Terry Wilkerson, the chairman of RLC’s Applied Science and Technology Division. Meek said the series was arranged to complement a chapter in the textbook. He challenged his students Wednesday to seek out leadership styles in others and find what suits them.
“I think young people don’t see themselves as being successful leaders someday because of where they grew up or went to school,” Meek said. “This is simply not true. My hope is that by bringing successful, homegrown leaders in to speak, it will not only disprove this theory but inspire students to strive to be successful. I feel young people need to be challenged to be great leaders.”
Student feedback immediately following Settle’s presentation was good. Meek said one comment from a student was, “[Settle] was very good at getting the point across that we can be a leader if we are willing to work.” And another said, “[Settle’s] accomplishments and experiences are very impressive and he is one of us, so to speak, meaning born and raised here locally.”