Leadership: Leading Marines from the front
By Lance Cpl. Michael Kjaer
| Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | August 03, 2000
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Editors note: Leadership is one of the foundations the Marine Corps is built on. It requires judgment, integrity, honesty, decisiveness and many other attributes expected of Marines in day-to-day activities. Everyone understands what leadership is, yet each of us views it and defines it a little differently. The following is Maj. Stephen Reynolds view on leadership. Reynolds is the commander of Headquarters Battalion MCLB Albany. Leadership is the art of inspiring Marines to rise above self-concern, placing the team first, and accomplishing the mission, said Reynolds. Train the troops hard, take care of their needs, take them to war, and bring them home alive. That is the meaning of leadership. According to Reynolds, there is almost a cultural belief that loyalty means a subordinate doing what they are told by a senior. Leadership and loyalty go hand-in-hand, said Reynolds. One without the other is ineffective. The essence of leadership is the ability to inspire such behavior. A leader has to be loyal to their people. According to Reynolds, the most important book he owns is FMFM 1-0, the Marine Corps Manual on Leading Marines. To me the title says it all, said Reynolds, holding up a dirty and tattered white and green manual. Leading Marines, thats what it is all about. I told them that at the last NCO (noncommissioned officer) PME (professional military education period of instruction). It has coffee stains, rips, dirt and bent pages, but more important than that, it has highlights, notes, underlines and scribbles in the margins. It will not tell you how to lead, but gives you some motivation and inspiration about leadership. According to Reynolds, leadership is not always necessarily doing what is popular, but doing what is right. I believe a quote in here says it best, stated Reynolds holding up a passage by Lt. Gen. Victor Krulak, retired Marine Corps General and father of former Commandant, Charles Krulak. The essence of loyalty is the courage to propose the unpopular coupled with a determination to obey, no matter how distasteful the ultimate decision. The essence of leadership is the ability to inspire such behavior. To me the simplest description of leadership was one that I picked up several years ago. It goes Do right, Fear no man, said Reynolds. At the time that I got it, it was not attributed to an author. I later found out it was by Stonewall Jackson. To me, it sums up everything leadership is. In every circumstance, under all conditions, no matter what your environment you must do right, said Reynolds. Once you have done right, you need fear nothing. Sometimes doing the right thing means risking everything you have. Theres always a risk when you do the right thing, but in the end, the final assessment of what youve done, your character and your leadership abilities are yours, continued Reynolds. Once you have done the right thing, let them throw slings and arrows at you. Let them criticize you. If you have done the right thing, whether they agree with you or disagree with you wont matter, said Reynolds. According to Reynolds, those two quotes and the last paragraph of the NCO creed define leadership to him. The last paragraph of the NCO creed reads: I must give the very best I have for my Marines, my Corps and my country for today I supervise and instruct in peace, but tomorrow I may lead in war. Today is the day that you train and prepare yourself and your Marines for tomorrow. No one knows what tomorrow may hold. If you fail to use todays time properly, you will do a great disservice to yourself and all the Marines around you. The enemies of this country have made a grave mistake. They gave us today to train and prepare. Let us use that to its fullest potential.