Retired general explains how to be a dynamic leader

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Hawkins joined Aileen Black on this week's Leaders and Legends to discuss leadership the qualities that a leader needs during ...

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Hawkins joined Aileen Black on Leaders and Legends to discuss leadership and the need to continuously give back. A great leader constructs a legacy and reputation of dynamic impact beyond themselves.

Growing up as a “military brat,” Hawkins’ father inspired him to enter public service and the military. He said it’s in the family’s DNA and goes back to his grandfather as well. The retired general has had a distinguished military career spanning over four decades and today both of his sons serve in the military.

Hawkins was appointed the sixth president of Angelo State University — and the 11th since its founding as San Angelo Junior College in 1928 — on Aug. 17, 2020. He is also the second ASU alumnus to serve as president, and the first Black president in the history of the institution.

Hawkins is an internationally respected subject-matter expert in leadership, strategic planning, cyber security, military matters and Christian discipleship development. He has over four decades of business, military, academic and spiritual development experience. He tries to emulate a style of “servant leadership.”

“I recognize people and feel blessed to have worked with and around these wonderful people. If you allow people to magnify their gift great things can happen,” he said. When asked about leadership during these difficult times and what qualities are needed, he was quick to respond, “You need clear and articulate communications across your entire organization. The difference between a crisis and chaos is leadership. Clear communication is key and it has to be communication that has a message that is understood across the organization.”

Many individuals helped him formulate his leadership style. The most important thing they taught him, he said, was to mentor and give back. He stressed the need to construct a legacy and reputation of dynamic impact beyond oneself.

Hawkins and his wife, Maria, are passionate about community health and founded Ezra Vision Ministries, a nonprofit organization to help Haitians displaced by the deadly 2010 earthquake. He has already completed six humanitarian and missionary trips to the country.

“You need to treat people as children of God, regardless of their faith,” he said.  Additionally, Ezra Vision Ministries built a school that supports over 350 students today. The retired general continues to dedicate himself to philanthropic and community work, while also serving as the pastor of the Christian Fellowship Baptist Church.

When asked if he had faced discrimination during his career and what advice he would give to anyone facing discrimination, he said it depends on the position.

“If you are starting out, pick and choose your battles. All of them don’t work all the time. The issue needs to come to the forefront. Choose a route that fits the situation. It depends on the situation and the people,” he said. “There are tough issues out there and you have to bring them up but choose your battle and your route depending on the situation.”

Having spoken with him, it is my opinion that few people can lead lives that are exemplary in every stage of life, as Hawkins has done. He constantly excelled in his personal life, military service, dedication to his faith and community — he is truly a leader and a legend.

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