View Full Version : Former Marines use experience to teach women to be leaders

04-11-06, 12:13 PM
April 17, 2006
Former Marines use experience to teach women to be leaders
By Robert F. Dorr

“You can take the girl out of the Corps, but you can’t take the Corps out of the girl.”

That’s according to Courtney Lynch, who, with business partner Angie Morgan, used their experience as Marine captains to launch a consulting firm focused on leadership by women in corporations, law firms, nonprofits and universities.

Their book, “Leading From the Front: No Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women,” has 27,000 copies in print.

When you speak with Lynch and Morgan, as I did recently in Fairfax, Va., you can’t help but be bowled over by their enthusiasm.

They served during the 1990s, when duty in the Marine Corps seemed kinder and gentler. But they did some of the hard things that were expected of Marines then.

“The Marine Corps believes that if you want to be a leader, you’ve got to lead from the front,” Lynch said. “The Marine Corps gave us all the tools we needed to do that, from practical leadership principles and character traits to rigorous training environments.”

It came as a surprise to Lynch, who is also an attorney, that big companies don’t always share the values she learned in the Corps. Unhappy as a highly paid, 9-to-5 corporate lawyer, Lynch teamed up with Morgan to launch a small business helping executives who want to encourage women to become strong leaders.

One could accuse these young women of exploiting the Corps’ image to benefit their business. After all, the Marine Corps emblem — the eagle, globe and anchor — adorns their book’s cover.

But I don’t see anything wrong with two former Marine officers transplanting their military leadership lessons into the private sector and making a living at it. All of us take stuff we’ve learned and apply it to our endeavors.

Their book includes dozens of sidebars with tidbits. Some of them seem to draw directly from Marine officer experience.

For example: “Recognizing the work of those around you, rather than claiming credit for yourself, is the sign of a true leader. Such selfless acts produce gratitude, loyalty and respect, which can make you an even more effective and successful leader in the long run.”

Other homilies in the Lynch-Morgan primer sound like they come from your mother rather than the Corps: “Apologies aren’t a substitute for performance, and they can’t reverse damage that has already been done. Frequent apologies compromise your credibility as a leader by suggesting that your underperformance is the norm rather than the exception.”

I love this stuff. But let’s face it: A few diehards yearn for the days when women weren’t empowered and didn’t lead. Some even believe women shouldn’t be Marine captains or run corporations. A few of those reprobates might even be found in today’s Marine Corps.

I don’t expect Lynch and Morgan to straighten out corporate America soon, but when they finish that job, perhaps they can figure out why only about 1,000 of the Corps’ more than 18,000 officers are women.

The writer, an Air Force veteran, lives in Oakton, Va. He is the author of books on military topics, including “Chopper,” a history of helicopter pilots.