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Col. Scott Erdelatz, Director of the Lejeune Leadership Institute, speaks about innovation in relation to leaders in the Marine Corps during a Leadership Development Program workshop at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, March 18, 2015. The goal of the workshop was to provide training to commanders and "key leaders" from Headquarters and Service Battalion to implement a unit leadership development program.

Photo by Cpl. Eric Keenan

Lejuene Leadership Institute tailors leaders to fit Marine units

30 Mar 2015 | Cpl. Eric Keenan Defense Media Activity

The Lejuene Leadership Institute conducted a two-day leadership development workshop on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Mar 18-19, 2015.

The goal of the workshop was to train commanders and “key leaders” from Headquarters and Service Battalion to successfully implement a unit leadership development program.

“For leadership development to work at the unit level, it has to be tailored to that unit,” said Col. Scott Erdelatz, Director of the Lejeune Leadership Institute at the Marine Corps University.

The first day of the workshop consisted of many interactive speeches about leadership, programs available to enhance individual and unit level readiness, Marine Corps heritage, establishing a Unit Leadership Development Program, the planning process and the successfulness of the program at Marine Air Control Group 28 in Cherry Point, North Carolina.

The second day covered interpersonal communication, or an information exchange between two or more people through which skills are learned and improved and feedback is provided. Coaching and counseling were also key talking points on day two.

“We’ve also spent time just asking leaders what works for them,” said Erdelatz “helping them dial into what they’ve learned, encouraging them to make time devoted to those Marines, teaching them practical things, investing in their long-term development through coaching and counseling.”

The Marine Corps Leadership Development Program has been around since December 2012 and could potentially replace the 2006 Mentoring Program.

“The mentoring program didn’t have the impact and influence that we envisioned for it, so we were tasked at the Marine Corps University and the Lejeune Leadership institute to come up with a way to reenergize the mentoring program,” said Erdelatz.

While the official order is still awaiting approval, a number of units throughout the Marine Corps, including Headquarters and Service Battalion at Quantico, have volunteered to begin the MCLD program based on its draft order.

Almost all of these units received a workshop from Lejeune Leadership Institute before creating their unit programs.

“The Mentorship Program seemed like a check in the box. You were assigned a mentor and a lot of Marines really didn’t feel that the mentor knew about them,” said Staff Sgt. Jason J. Taylor, Company Gunnery Sergeant at Communication Squadron 28, Cherry Point, North Carolina. “The Leadership Development Program is more about influencing Marines to seek out who inspires them.”

According to the 36th Commandant’s Planning Guide for 2015, Marines act in a manner that capitalizes on leadership, initiative, intellect, aggressiveness and innovativeness at all levels and across the Corps. Nurturing the development of Marine leaders could potentially be the path to this goal.    

“The Leadership Development program teaches leaders that it isn’t about having the right ranks in place, its about having the right people,” said Capt. Denver M. Edick, an operations officer with Headquarters and Service Battalion, MCB Quantico, Virginia.

Placing efficient leaders into this new program will be effective and beneficial to the Corps as a whole, according to Edick.

“If done correctly, everyone benefits. The Leadership Development program has no limit to rank,” said Edick.

Leadership is a tough undertaking, according to Erdelatz.

“Whether you want it or not, because you wear the title United States Marine, you are a leader,” said Edick. “Either take that role or take a hike.”

A unit’s leadership can be its own success or its own demise. Developing leaders effectively can have a large impact on which way a unit goes.

“I think that leadership influence always flows from character. At the end of the day, leadership influence is tactical, it’s leadership by example,” said Erdelatz “We choose to follow, not because we have to but because we want to.”