If you want to learn something about leadership, hearing from somebody who has served as a Marine military leader in both Afghanistan and Iraq would be a good place to start. And the guest speaker, Colonel Scott A. Gondek, at the Marine Corps Leadership Seminar fit the bill. The late October seminar, which included three workshops on different aspects of leadership, was at N.C Central University’s C.T. Willis Commerce Building
Colonel Gondek is no stranger to receiving awards. He has received the Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star Medal, the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal with three gold stars, and the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Gondeck was born and raised in Detroit, where there weren’t any military bases around. He went to college to become a high school teacher. He said he never imagined joining the Marine Corps, but has been enlisted for 29 years and will soon face mandatory 30 year retirement.
“Back in 1993 when I enlisted, I thought after a couple years I’ll be doing something else,” he said. When he first heard the recruitment slogan, “The Few. The Proud. The Marines,” he understood it as a challenge. And that’s what led him to enlisting.
He described leadership as “the art of getting things done through other people,” and life in the Marines as essentially holding a series of leadership positions at every level. “That happens to be my story in the Marine Corps. It’s not terribly unique from others that have served in the Corps,” he said.
According to Gondek, the Marine Corps, as a standing force, must be self-sufficient and self-sustainable. So from the very beginning, he said, Marines we learn about teams and how to operate in teams. “We are not going to accomplish our mission as individuals or one individual is not going to do it, it is only through a team that we can achieve.”
Gondek, being a Marine is all about “developing a sense of responsibility, accountability for your team, and being reliant on one another.”
The leadership seminar also included four leadership workshops to highlight ethical leadership and problem solving.
In one workshop a “mind field game” was played, led by First Lieutenant Drew Daniels. The task was for the appointed team leader to lead his group across the road map remembering the same route for each of its point men. This would train leaders “to be able to make decisions with input from your team while also sticking with your decision and staying focused,” said Daniels.
In another workshop, string theory, The second problem solving task was an interactive “string theory” exercise that forced participants to develop a plan of attack by interconnecting bits of string to numbered disks. “There was a lot of friction with this activity but the teams handled it well,” said workshop leader Captain Evan Habib.
In another workshop “chicken, fox, corn,” participants inside hula hoops were assigned handicaps and then they had to work together to pass along crates named three crates named, chicken, fox, and corn. “The overall goal was to show communication, showing teamwork and using each member for their capabilities,” said workshop leader Captain Ariel Beavers.
“The United States Marine Corps is known worldwide for developing leadership, courage, tenacity, and teamwork- skills that can help anyone stand out from the competition anywhere they go.”
The Marine Corps was established in 1775 by the 2nd Continental Congress as the Continental Marines to serve as landing forces for naval ships. Today it has 177,200 active duty members.