In the book ‘No Yelling: The 9 Secrets of Marine Corps Leadership You Must Know to Win in Business’ former USMCR Major Wally Adamchik shares lessons from current and former Marines on leadership. He uses both Marine Corps examples and examples from the business world to illustrate his points.
One of the examples that struck home with me was a civilian example from Rob Peterman, Major USMC:
“My college crew coach is a great example of what not to do. He knew his stuff. His rowing style was the most efficient I had ever seen and he was a great tactician. Individually, he was excellent. The university recognized his talent when they hired him to be the coach. But the guy had zero personality. Not an ounce of charisma, or anything else to make you want to work for him. He had one style: demand more. And I admit that, in making those demands, he made us better rowers. But he alienated us, too. There was nothing human about the guy. He was unapproachable. He made us better, yeah, but he could have made us great. He wanted perfection based on his method. No one could row as well as he, he thought. His style, if you could call it that, caused us to turn off our own motivation, creativity, and the desire to excel. Further, he was unable to teach; all he could do was demand.”
Does this sound familiar to you? When I read this it reminded me of a number of law enforcement trainers I have met over the years. They are very skilled people with great technical skills. What they lack however, is the ability to teach others, the ability to make others great. They justify their ‘style’ by telling me they are not there to make friends, the officers don’t have to like me they just have to perform, I am not here to mollycoddle these people I am here to teach them to fight, etc.
I get it. I am all for working people hard. I am an advocate of high standards. I am a supporter of intensity in training. However, the officers who participate in training are the reason we as trainers exist. If we are not there to make them great then we should not be there. If we cannot teach, they we should not be in a teaching role. If we are not fully committed to making the officers we are entrusted to train the best that THEY can be then we need to step down as instructors.
My advice to training commanders is be careful about who you select as trainers. Selection should never be based solely on who has the best skills, it should always be based on who is the best instructor. If you get both in the same package then you are way ahead of the game.
Go back and reread the passage by Major Peterman. If others would think of you when they read that, then what are you going to do to change or when are you going to get out of training.
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