MMA Holds 2013 Leadership Forum
Maj Harold Compton
On Friday, Feb. 14, Marine Military Academy held its annual Leadership Forum. The Leadership Forum is part of the Marine Corps Junior ROTC program to provide young men with training in leadership.
The guest speaker at this year’s forum was Frank Gansz, Jr., special teams coach for the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Mustangs. Coach Gansz is in his second season with SMU and previously held positions at both the collegiate and professional levels. Coach Gansz was the special teams coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He also served as a coach with the Oakland Raiders during 1998-99 and the Kansas City Chiefs from 2001- 2005. At the collegiate level he has coached at the United States Military Academy at West Point, 1990-91, and the University of Pittsburg, 1988-89. Coach Gansz attended The Citadel where he was a four-year defensive back.
Leadership Forum Assembly
Coach Gansz kicked off the Leadership Forum with a talk to an assembly of the entire Corps of Cadets and numerous staff members in Yeckel Auditorium. A former cadet at MMA as a post graduate in 1980-81, Coach Ganzs is very knowledgeable about cadet life and how MMA can help young men. Coach Gansz spoke for about 30 minutes on the subject of leadership as it relates to academic life, military service and success in the business world. Of special note was his comments concerning the Five Traits of a Champion. These traits included: Aggressiveness, Confidence, Discipline, Consistence and Resilience. These traits apply to whatever path a young man chooses in life. A true champion must be aggressive in taking on any challenges that he faces, he must be confident in his choices and he must discipline himself to achieving his goal. A champion must also be consistent in his actions to achieve that goal. Lastly, he must be resilient when things change or he suffers a setback.
Following Coach Gansz’ talk to the full Corps of Cadets, the Leadership Forum moved to the Cadet Activities Center theater where an informal session was held with those cadets that would be attending the separate panels later in the day. Coach Gansz fielded questions from cadets and staff members during this 45-minute session. Questions ranged from his thoughts about the Penn State issue to where the NFL and NCAA are headed. He was asked numerous questions about how leadership is practiced within a football team and how a coach deals with players. Cadets were so engaged in this session that questions had to be cut short so that the leadership panels could begin on time.
The Leadership Forum holds four separate panels each year. Each panel is headed by a senior Marine officer or non-commissioned officer on the MMA staff and assisted by a guest member. Guest members are normally MMA Board of Trustee members, prominent local business professionals and some public officials. These members bring a wealth of knowledge on the subject of leadership in all areas of life and a variety of careers.
Each panel has approximately one dozen senior cadets, and each one discusses one of four subjects each year: Leadership Traits, Leadership Principles, Leadership Styles and Core Values. Cadets are encouraged to talk freely and provide input based on their own experiences and observations. Each cadet is provided a series of reading prior to the forum to help stimulate thinking and discussion on the subject.
Wrapping up the Leadership Forum
This was my fifteenth year serving on the Forum, something that I feel honored to be asked each year. Without a doubt, this was my most rewarding. Coach Gansz’ comments seemed to strike a cord in the cadets (and myself) that really brought them out in a way I had not seen before. Discussion was lively and included much more interaction and discussion by cadets than I had seen in past years.
Leadership is a subject that has been written and talked about for many years and discussing it with these young men was rewarding. Our topic was Core Values, and it is hoped that everyone left with an understanding of the importance of developing Core Values at a young age. Cadets spoke of the development of a moral compass to guide them and that compass points in the direction of that compass is based on their specific core values indicate. The path they choose today will impact on them for the rest of the lives. I am confident that MMA is providing our cadets the basis for ensuring they pick the right path.
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