Sometimes you have to look into the mirror and see if the root of the problem is right in front of you. I know it’s not always easy to admit it when you are wrong. However, it’s a strong leadership trait to know when your wrong and to be able to admit it. The key is, not to be wrong very often. If you goon up in combat, young warriors if not even yourself get dead. That’s a tall bill to answer when you are writing young warriors parents after they have died in combat. I can tell you from writing several parents of warriors KIA during combat deployments, even when you do everything correct, the young warrior did everything correct, there were back up plans implemented it’s still difficult to convey that to a mother who has lost their son or daughter.
I can tell the difference in two Lieutenants that either have a solid Staff Non Commissioned Officer (SNCO) or a weak Staff Sergeant assisting/training them as they enter their initial years in the service. The difference is night and day and the ones with a good SNCO that pull them aside professionally and tell them things like “Sir, why don’t we try it this way” or “Sir, don’t say this or that” help build a good young officer into a great officer one day. The key is if that Lt actually listens and pays attention. All Lt’s come out of training with the best book knowledge and training offered. However, what they lack is experience, thus the almighty Staff Sergeant comes into action. This is a major element that helps the Marine Corps be unique because we push so much responsibility to our lower ranks, equip them with solid skills which time and time again produce superior results because we gave them latitude to excel.
Regardless of the simplest tasks sometimes poor judgement or inexperience comes into play or whatever the reason and at some point you realize, crap, I was wrong. In training being wrong usually doesn’t kill anyone (but it can) it usually just pisses everyone off and you loose credibility and trust. These are two key elements for success in a small fighting unit. The best way to avoid “being wrong” is doing your home work, knowing your stuff, implementing a past experience that is similar and it doesn’t hurt to talk it over with a fellow same ranking or higher individual as a “sounding board” or depending on the rank & position, ask the SSgt, GySgt, 1stSgt, SgtMaj. There were many times I had a grandiose plan or thought I knew exactly what had to be done and then simply asked my senior enlisted to have my plan shot full of holes and went back to the drawing board. Even to this day I have no issues asking my SgtMaj his thoughts on this or that. However, when you decide on what you’re going to do, you men follow your decision. Thus, why it’s so important not to goon it up in the previous occasions or they will not be so willing to do it next time.
The above applies to anyone, any job. Get your shit together, develop a plan, always have a plan “B” then don’t be too excited to pull the trigger on it before you ask a respectable person to wargame it or shoot it full of holes. Once you decide that you are going to do it, this or that way, they will be ready to follow you as you lead them. That’s a major element in all this, is that you lead them. Regardless if it’s conducting an ambush or a simple task, lead by example. When ever Marines do dangerous training, the leader goes first. You are responsible for everything your unit does, or does not do; it’s the burden of command (or being a manager, boss any type of leader) to take responsibility and if you goon it up, own up to it and freaking fix it like yesterday.
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere” President Ronald Reagan
Here are some of our leadership traits and principles. Put your leadership ideas in the comments section: