Leadership Reaction Course and Problem Solving
Maj Harold Compton
Having been at the Marine Military Academy and putting literally thousands of campers and cadets through the various courses on our Leadership Enhancement and Development Complex (LEAD Complex) I have some very distinct impressions of the participants. It is safe to say that groups can vary greatly in their responses on the courses but I have noted some similarities among most groups when it comes to running the Leadership Reaction Course (also known as the Speed March Reaction Course). These similarities have helped to develop my style of supervising the course and how I instruct participants.
Leadership Reaction Course Group Similarities
The first noted similarity between groups on the Leadership Reaction Course is that there are always those members that are outgoing and attempt to steer the group’s action from the outset. Regardless of age, from 12 year olds to adults, there is always someone that wants to lead. Sometimes it is the biggest person who intimidates the others into following. Other times it is the more intelligent and analytical person that can sway the group through their explanation of a possible solution. Whatever the basis for one of them taking charge, if this is their first problem, I normally let things take whatever course they will and see how well the team works the problem. I do make note of the individual and alter the rules for later problems to place them in a definite follower role. This can be done by stating in the rules that they are mute and cannot speak but only follow directions or by blindfolding them to simulate a blind person that has to be helped through the problem thereby forcing someone else to assume the leadership role. The goal is to attempt to have every member placed in the leadership role at least once to experience the problems associated with having to make decisions and how they arrive at those decisions. This also helps them to better understand and support the leader when they are in a follower role.
The second similarity that I have noted is that almost all groups struggle on their first problem and rarely successfully complete it. This is normally due to lack of teamwork and lack of development of a reasonable solution before their planning time expires. Usually after debriefing the group on their first problem they begin to understand where they failed; not in execution but in planning. In conjunction with this is my observation that as the group moves from problem to problem on the Leadership Reaction Course they begin to understand that what they do in preparation to solve the problem is of greater importance than the execution. As they move from problem to problem they begin asking more questions following the problem explanation to give them a better understanding of what is allowable under the rules, etc. As I provide the group their initial brief on the problem I like to keep it down to the very basic information and see how quickly the participants understand that it is up to them to ask questions. Once they finish the question and answer period and the problem begins I will answer no further questions. If I am asked by a member “Can we do such and such?” my response will be “What did I tell you in the instructions”. As we move to later problems I see many more questions being asked at the conclusion of instructions. I make it my rule that I will answer any questions about the Leadership Reaction Course problems as long as they ask during the question and answer period, but once there are no more questions that is all they can get from me.
Leadership Reaction Course Benefits
The last similarity I have noted has to do with the debriefing period after each problem. It is interesting to note that regardless of age, participants are almost always very blunt in what they did wrong and how they could have improved. I have noted that almost every group works to improve on their shortcoming as they move from problem to problem. The Leadership Reaction Course is a great tool for helping young men to understand the concept of developing a plan to solve a problem and working together as a team. As I close each session I remind them that the steps they undertake on the course are the same steps they should take to tackle any problem: try to get as much information relative to the problem and the outcome expected, analyze your teams strengths and weakness and use those strengths to overcome the weakness and develop a logical solution to solve the problem and lastly supervise. The Leadership Reaction Course is but one of several courses at the Academy where teamwork and problem solving are crucial to success and the lessons learned here carry over to the cadets every day life at the Academy and beyond toward a more confident, self-disciplined future.
If you have any questions about the Leadership Reaction Course post a comment and we will get back to you.
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