01-30-03, 07:15 PM
This isn't really Marine Corps related, but I don't know where else to ask. And if I've got what it takes to become an Officer of Marines, maybe it will help me out later on, as well.
My Civil Air Patrol squadron is having some major problems with unit cohesion. I'll hopefully be given more responsibility and a higher leadership position in the near future. I've racked my brain to try to come up with some way of trying to turn this squadron around. I know that it's all directly related to the dynamics of my squadron: the cadets, their personalities and attitudes, and ultimately what the Squadron Commander and Cadet Commander approve. Basically, I'm looking for any advice, comments, stories and just about anything else you're willing to share.
Thanks in advance. Believe me, it's greatly appreciated.
01-30-03, 07:35 PM
A lot of these folks around here have quite a bit more experience than I do with that sort of thing.
Treat your people like they're men with a brain in their heads to begin with. Explain things to them. If it's life and death, they'll trust you more when you have say "JUST ****ING DO IT!"
Train them, train them, train them! Take care of them. Make sure they have what they need to get the job done. Everything they do, you do as well. If they're out working and haven't had chow, make sure they have it. If possible, make sure thay see you 'bringin it to them'. If they do something good, make sure everyone knows about it. Give them the credit. If they screw up, take 'em off to one side and tell them about it. If they're due fer promotions get 'em promoted. Make sure they have what they need to do the job. Take care of yer people. Period.
Blah, blah, blah.
It's all automatic to me. I've done this everywhere I've worked when I was in charge of any number of people. It always worked. The job always gets done in a timely manner and your people will follow you to hell if that's what it takes.
I learned it in the Marine Corps.
Look under leadership when ya do a search of this site. The essence of good leadership skills has been covered several times
01-30-03, 07:57 PM
(I share with you a chapter from the incomplete autobiography I am writing as reference material for my children and grandchildren. It's purpose is two-fold; One, so they will come to know who their father/grandfather was, and more importantly, that the lessons they need in life can be taught on a personal level, and not from a dry textbook.)
The year was 1954, shortly before my 17th birthday. The place was Lake Mohonk Mountain House, 90 miles north of New York City, my first time out of the city, the start of a five year Odyssey working vacation resorts.
His name was AL Karpowitz, the meanest looking man I had ever met. He was the head chef. Rumor had it that in the off season he taught cooking on a TV show in Maine, which we all found impossible to believe. He had the same ethnic face as Karl Malden, only without the smile. He never smiled. Most of the waitresses and busboys were college students from rural Pennsylvania and New England. I was a high school dropout, supposedly street smart, a wise-ass Brooklyn punk, but he scared the daylights out of all of us equally.
His responding "Good Morning", which seemed to erupt from the bowels of hell, forced you to double check your watch in sheer panic. How could you be late? Surreptitiously you peek at the watch, hold your breath and compare it with the kitchen clock. Verified. Ten minutes early, a tentative sigh of relief. But why is he so angry at your arrival, could they both be wrong? What will he do? What insane tortures is he capable of?
We all lived in constant, though in retrospect, unwarranted fear.
Contact was to be avoided at all costs. If he was at one end, the cautious stayed at the other. The kitchen was long and ran the length of the thousand seat dining room, with swinging entry and exit doors at both ends. Someone leaving the kitchen would indicate his whereabouts with a nod, this door is O.K. or use the other one. With eighty plus waitresses and busboys, our common goal was total anonymity. It was common knowledge that crossing Chef Karpowitz would be akin to incurring the wrath of God. No one wanted to be the first. Hell, I didn't want to be first, last, or anyplace in-between. You could have my turn, my place in line without even asking. Take it.
It was the day of the dining room crew's self-sponsored weekly cookout and blanket party. We dated each other exclusively, with couples pairing off for the season. With the exception of the bellhops, the other departments, which included several married couples, were all older than our collegiate dining room crew. When we organized an activity, all employees were invited to participate. Hotel guests were not permitted, even though many of the younger ones would have preferred our activities over the hotel's programs, which catered to first, second, and third generations of returning guests. One guest had been spending her summers at the hotel for almost fifty straight years. The only lapse occurred when she was stranded in Europe and couldn't return from a vacation cruise when the First World War erupted.
We always bought a keg of beer in town, and hot dogs, buns, beans condiments, paper plates, etc. wholesale from the hotel. I was tired of hot dogs. What I wanted was a steak. Immediately after resetting my dining room station after the dinner meal and before leaving for the party, I took two prime, frozen, steaks from the freezer and tucked them inside my shirt under my busboy's jacket. I said took, the correct term should be stole. I was able to rationalize it by considering it fair payment for the various employee meals missed on my days off, room and board being part of my pay, the rest being $40 per month plus tips.
Obviously, this story wouldn't be worth telling if I hadn't been caught red-handed by Chef Karpowitz. I was, and it is. Although I had delayed long enough for the kitchen to be deserted, it wasn't. His gravel voice summoned me over to him from the other end of the kitchen, and as I walked towards him, on wet-spaghetti like legs, my mind raced like a twig in a hurricane.
Should I run? Did he recognize me? Is the Pope a Catholic? Is he close enough to the pots and pans for me to grab one and knock him out with it? Suppose I miss? If I didn't, would I have time to run to my room and get my money before I run the twelve miles down the mountain? Forget the money and hitchhike out of town? What are my chances? None and none!
I thought the steaks would be defrosted when he took them out of my shirt from the hours it took me to walk the length of the kitchen. They must be defrosting, this can't all be sweat. Thank God it's above the belt line and not below. I think. I hope. I was afraid to look. I didn't, and it wasn't.
Of course he knew about the party. "O.K. this one's for you, who is the other one for?" Instinctively, I knew that the best answer was also the honest answer, and I named my girlfriend. "Are you ****ing her?" As scared as I was, and I was scared almost speechless, there was no way in the world I would ever answer THAT question. My code was as sacred to me as a captured soldier's name, rank, and serial number response. I thought of the movie "Purple Heart Diary" and wondered to what extremes he would go to get a confession. What business was it of his? What difference did it make? I did it, I was caught.
The Mafia's Omerta, a samarai's stoicism, a monk's vow of silence, don't fink, don't rat, never squeal, all supported my code of honor. True, I gave up her name, but not as an accomplice, neither before nor after the fact. I would have given her the cooked steak and she wouldn't have thought to ask from whence it came. Ask me about me, and you may get an answer, ask me something, anything, about someone else and I might deny even knowing them.
I remember in high school, questioned after a ten minute one-on-one fight, no, I didn't recognize the classmate who hit me, and when questioned the following day, he couldn't remember why he had stitches. Nothing heroic, nothing to be applauded, just normal behavior, doing the right thing.
There we were, just standing there, with the sound of my knocking knees echoing throughout the kitchen, resounding like the afterbeat to the throbbing bass drum of my heart. Fortunately, silence was a better response than any wise-ass remark I could have made. Chef Karpowitz nodded with a grunt, returned the two steaks to the inside of my shirt, and as he buttoned it said, "Son, don't ever forget, if you're ****ing 'em, you feed 'em." And with that, turned around and walked back to his office.
Those seven words "If you're ****ing 'em, you feed 'em" define leadership.
Chef Karpowitz, I have never forgotten. Our encounter is as fresh in my mind as if it happened this morning. Erudite books on leadership and management theory devote chapters and even volumes to postulate that which seems to be so obvious a principle, even though it was crudely expressed. Loyalty is a two way street. If you put a soldier in harm's way, you have an inescapable obligation to protect him. If a man works for you, your obligation to him is even more indelible than his is to you. You have the greater resources, the greater capacity, the greater latitude, and the greater responsibility to support the 'team' effort. Success or failure is on YOUR shoulders.
Cagayan de Oro
01-30-03, 10:10 PM
I've only only limited experience with leadership; being captain of various sports teams in high school is pretty much the extent. However, I heard a story once that I have referred to in my mind any time I've been placed in a leadership position. You may have heard it before, and if so forgive me if I tell it wrong, I don't know it word for word and it's been a long time since I heard it.
It was during the Revolutionary War. A platoon of the Continental Army was tasked with building a bridge over a river. The commander of the platoon sat his horse on the bank of the river and watched as his men sweated and struggled to complete their task. A lone horseman in an officer's uniform rode up to the commander and, after observing the platoon for a few minutes, asked the commander why he was not helping his men. The platoon's commander replied, "I'm an officer, I don't need to be down there in the dirt with them." Without another word, the horseman dismounted, took off his coat and shirt and proceeded to spend the rest of the day helping the men complete their duty. When the job was finished, the man put his shirt and coat back on and mounted his horse. As he rode pass the officer, he told him, "Tell your men that whenever they need help, their Commander in Chief will always be there."
This is, obviously, a story about George Washington and though I have no idea whether it is true or not, it demonstrates to me one of the qualities a leader should possess. Just like firstsgtmike's Chef Karpowitz said, "If you're ****ing 'em, you feed 'em."
01-30-03, 11:17 PM
Unit cohesion. My first true experience with that was in boot camp. We had unit cohesion. We ALL hated our drill instructors. I qualified high expert on the rifle range. My target was not the bulls eye. I imagined my drill instrutor spead eagled on the uprights of the target and I aimed for his belt buckle.
After shooting on qualification day, my DI asked me where I had learned to shoot, since I was not a country boy, but a city slicker.
"My drill instructor taught me Sir, and my drill instructor also provided the motivation." I was asked to explain, and I did.
Unit cohesion continued. The entire platoon shuddered at the sh+t that came down on me because of that truth.
Boot camp is when the cohesion starts, and 80 individuals learn to think as one. The only disagreements we had were in the names we wanted to call the drill instructors. But the process began.
An attitude that served me well for my entire career was that my squad did not work for the Plt. Sgt. They worked for ME. I worked for the Plt.Sgt. My platoon did not work for the Plt. Leader. They worked for ME. I worked for the Plt. Leader. And so on and so on.
The people that worked for me were MY responsibility. I could not go up the chain and blame someone else.
Unit cohesion exists when the unit is clearly defined, and the unit leader decides if the next step up is worth working for. It starts with two buddies, expands to a four man fire team, grows to a thirteen man squad, then to a platoon, and then on again.
If the nominal or de facto leader determines that the next level of leadership is failing in its responsibility as a leader, growth of the cohesive unit ceases.
That is why, in any organization, you will find pockets of superior performing cohesive units, while the overall performance of the organization itself is rated as being much less.
To simplify this. In a Corpswide competition, the winning fire team is not necessarily a part of the winning squad, nor is the winning squad necessarily a part of the winning platoon, etc.
It may not have answered your question, but I got the chance to write what was on my mind.
02-01-03, 03:04 PM
Thank you for the advice and stories. I've begun to see the weaknesses of my own leadership style, as well as the weaknesses of the leaders currently above me. I intend to learn from this experience and wisdom gained. Hopefully I will end up in a high enough leadership position to where I can have an effect on the entire unit, and not just the Cadets directly under me. But then, it is one of those processes that takes a bit of time, and it's a step by step process. Guess we'll see what happens. :)
Thanks again. It didn't fall on deaf ears. Oh, and First Sergeant, I would be honored if you would share more of your autobiography. From what I've seen so far, it's going to be absolutely outstanding. :yes:
02-02-03, 11:18 AM
unit cohesion? the tightest company I have ever been in was G 2/5. I think I have stated this before, but rank and billet have nothing to do with leadership roles everyone knows that the co. gunny is not int the chain of command in a grunt co. he is the caretaker more or less of the co. we had Gunny Koon the most frightening man i had ever seen he took liberty in his alpha uniform a true marine he had more fruitsalad than Patton. I seen him before he came to our co. he was new to the battalion and we were on deployment to panama he was with weapons co. he caught a marine droppin blank ammo for his 60 while humpin the bush.after the movement we were diggin in the mysterious gunny approached the marine and handed him one round of ammo and said you dropped this on the trail i want you to set your gun up on top of that hill over there and take this round and fire it then report back to me. the marine and his a-gunner did as told scrambled up the steep embankment of mud and fired one round then reported back to gunny Koon at which time he uncovered a box with about 200 rds in it they fired one round at a time for the rest of the night when the sun came up those two marines were completely exhausted. 2 weeks later he was introduced to golf co. as the new co. gunny. he brought those two marines with him!!they were assigned to our plt. this new gunny rained hellfire on the company for months then one night we were out in the field cold tired he told us the story of the perfume river in Viet Nam and that he would have been proud to have any of us as his troops there with that pulled the cover off a hummer loaded with beer and sodas he proclaimed train-ex completed the co. commander lost his cool and our plt went on to furnish the next 2 division super squads 2 years in a row under the harshness but kindness of Gunny Koon!! Like the Top said if your going to F**K them you gotta feed them, and they will become one!