I was a female Marine in the 70s

Back then we were called Women Marines, WMs or BAMs. We told ourselves that BAM stood for Beautiful American Marine, but we knew better. I was assigned a 0102 MOS [that’s military occupational specialty] as a Personnel Officer.

When I arrived at my first duty station in the Mohave Desert, I was introduced around the headquarters building, where I would be working. A crusty Lieutenant Colonel called me aside and handed me a business card. It said, “I’ve had a vasectomy.” I had just been through a few months of hell where us Second Lieutenants were put in fear of senior officers and taught to do as we were commanded. Thankfully, I had the strength to say “thank you,” and walk on.  Then I went back to my quarters and cried.

After a few weeks, I received a phone call at work from the President of the Officers’ Wives Association. She said that several people saw me eating lunch with one of the Marine Officers (who happened to be my boss) in the Officers’ Club. She suggested that I should refrain from doing that in the future. She didn’t say why. She didn’t have to. (more…)

Develop Leaders or Develop Leadership?

develop leaderI am often blown away by the sheer volume of entities who provide “leadership development.”  How would a conscientious buyer know where to start?

Here is a start: decide if you want to develop leaders, or develop leadership.

Do you want to develop the skills and competencies of individual leaders? Or do you want to develop the leadership of your team?  Both are important, but they are different.

The skill sets of individual leaders in most organizations run the gamut from novice to expert, and the knowledge and competence required at higher levels of leadership grow exponentially. What a young front line leader needs to know and do is very different than what a director over multiple and varied units needs to know and do. Leadership skills should build from the bottom up.  It doesn’t make sense to use leadership learning materials designed for C-Suite executives when preparing to be a manager. (more…)

My Plan Would Have Worked, if only….

arrow_strategy_400_clr_9440 2What a joy spending time with a young military officer over the holiday. An instructor who teaches the principles of warfighting to young, green lieutenants, he has some interesting stories about developing young leaders. Listening to his insight into “education and learning” it struck me that leadership development concepts are really no different for military or civilian leaders.

Basic officer training is the place that new officers try, fail and learn. Young kids right out of college don’t really like the “fail” part; it’s not a word that has been allowed in their vocabulary. They have spent 16 years of their lives striving to ace exams and earn good grades. Marines are selective, and they wouldn’t be military officers if they hadn’t learned how to be successful in school.

Mock battles are, in essence, simulated learning. The instructors create a realistic scenario, and provide roles, situations, and play the bad guys. The students use concepts learned in class to develop their operational plan, and the student leaders carry out the work of executing the plan. (more…)