by Blake Gorman ’13, Eagle Columnist
“Criticize in private, praise in public.”
I, as an MMA cadet leader, can sometimes feel that the way I run my platoon is the wrong way to do it. I try to run my platoon according to the ways that I feel is the right way but I wanted to take the initiative to find out what is truly the right way of running a platoon or a unit in general. Now, what I mean by the correct way is not by the book, though there is a lot of helpful advice in the book. But there are times when a leader is going to be put into situations where “by the book” isn’t going to cut it. Everyone has their own styles of leadership but there are times where it just goes a step to far. What I mean by this is that a leader merely focuses on the negative things, which is not a good way to motivate your unit. If a leader wants to motivate their unit they have to “praise” them. Let them know they are doing the right thing, so they can continue doing it. When you use positive motivation results will always show.
Criticism is necessary but not in front of everybody else. First of all, you lose respect of that individual and the unit. You’re going to criticize an individual’s performance do it one on one instead of screaming at them in a formation. My company commander always tells me “If someone in your platoon gets a check then it’s technically your check too.” So if you’re yelling due to their poor performance, you’re yelling at yourself. It’s a leaders job to teach until they know that their unit knows. After that if they mess up discipline them.
With a large enrollment of new boys and a small enrollment of old boys, there is going to be a lot of inexperience in the core. But having a lot of new boys is not necessarily a bad thing because there is also a lot of potential for re imaging MMA. Now, it is on us leaders to do this. If we do, we can form a responsible, respectful, attentive, and successful battalion.
However, there are concerns that the military department of MMA brings up about leadership, like dedication for example. Sometimes they fear leaders are “half stepping” their positions. This means leaders have to take their positions seriously and always set the example. Dedication is essential to success. One important position that requires such dedication is squad leader. They have to be the ones that are most involved with their subordinates. Squad leaders are supposed to be the last person to be delegated too. He also mentions that squad leaders are the ones that are supposed to know the most about their subordinates.
An overall leader is a leader that finds a solution to a problem and he doesn’t point fingers at anyone. He has to know his weaknesses before he knows his strengths. He is not selfish but he is selfless. For example, my company executive officer, Cadet Master Sergeant Nguyen, dedicated his time every day just to make sure that the entire company is motivated and everyone is in check. One day he even looked up a quote for every cadet in the company, even leaders. There are many ways to motivate a company and it can be as simple as doing things like sticking quotes on everyone’s door.
Right now in the core, leaders are still learning different styles of leadership. There is no specific way to lead. Everyone has a unique style of leadership: one person could lead with a strict disciplinary style while the other one is more reserved and leads with positive motivation.
This is also one of the worst times of the year to be a leader because it’s close to Christmas break and everyone just got back from Thanksgiving break. This is going to make everyone act up and cadets are going to be lacking a lot of discipline. There are many external conflicts like keeping everyone under control and make sure that they are in line but there is a major internal conflict too. I as a leader right now is struggling to keep myself in line and to still keep my authority. The only thing that crosses my mind though is what I’m going to do when I get home and it is tough to keep my MMA state of mind. I’m having a difficult time just keeping myself disciplined and I’m also trying to keep the platoon disciplined.
Old boys know how to cope with this issue but the new boys have no idea what they are getting themselves into. In times like this we need to warn them about how it’s going to affect their performance because they probably don’t even notice it and they won’t until it has affected their company with checks. It is important to warn the new boys about what’s going to happen throughout the year so they can perform at their best potential. The more that we keep the new boys informed the more they feel like they are a part of something. The new boys that we are leading now are very important to keep motivated because they could one day be the Battalion Commander. Now, wouldn’t that be something special to know that I was the first one to impact on the way he leads now. A new boy’s first leader is the leader that is going to impact him the most. That impact could be a positive one or a negative one. That new boy can either lead like the way you do because he respected you as a leader or he can lead the exact opposite way that you did because you were a poor leader that didn’t give anyone respect but you still demanded them to respect you. This is not the type of leadership we should promote to them.
Responsibility is a key to being a successful leader. Sergeant Major Suddarth states that, “Leaders need to take their positions seriously always set the example that their subordinates can follow.” If a leader sets a poor example their subordinates will follow that example which will make that subordinate a terrible cadet, which will affect the overall performance of the Corps. Leaders make a big impact on the core, and it is up to us to maintain and improve.
There are many ways to put yourself in a position to lead at MMA. If you apply yourself early and often, it will become clearer which style of leadership is the best one for you and your unit. But always keep in mind that your leadership can affect everyone around you. If it is a positive effect, the corps will continue to produce effective, responsible, and strong leaders for the future.
Blake Gorman is a senior cadet from Wentzville, Mo. He is interested in attending colleges such as The Citadel, University of Missouri, and Missouri State University.