MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Lance Corporals from 8th Engineer Support Battalion became the first in the Marine Corps to participate in a new Lance Corporal Leadership and Professional Ethics Seminar, Oct. 6-10, 2014, which may soon become a requirement for promotion to corporal.
Throughout the five day experience, five sergeants developed the 50 lance corporals to serve as ethical small unit leaders with solid foundations in personal and professional conduct, Marine Corps values and total fitness. The seminar was structured around small group discussions, peer-to-peer teaching, role playing, brainstorming and Socratic discussions. The seminar also focused around the two Marine Corps publications: Leading Marines and Sustaining the Transformation.
“This seminar is important because it’s going to help us build a foundation for these Marines who are going to make that transition to that next rank, so they can be better prepared to be small unit leaders,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael J. Marie Jr., the chief instructor of the seminar with 8th ESB and native of San Antonio.
According to the Marine Corps publication, Marine Corps Vision and Strategy 2025, the Marine Corps describes a small unit leader as someone who has the ability to assess, decide and act while operating in a more decentralized manner. The publication goes on to further explain that the Marine Corps wants to breed a more independent lance corporal who can take charge of a situation and carry out orders meeting the intent of the commander, without direct supervision. Lance corporals must become solid decision makers and take on more of the responsibility of a non-commissioned officer in order to realize that dream.
“We want them to feel that the rank of lance corporal is just as important as any other rank,” said Marie. “I think we take the lance corporals and what they have to offer for granted sometimes. You’d be amazed if you’d just let them talk and let them do something.”
The lance corporals who attended this seminar were surprised at how much their small groups grew over the course of the week. They went from quiet strangers to a tight group of friends who were not afraid to share opinions on tough subjects such as dealing with hazing, suicide and the difficulties of knowing when to step up and be a leader and when it is best to follow.
“When you are a lance corporal, you don’t really feel like you are in charge of a lot,” said Lance Cpl. Christian M. Rose, a water supply technician with 8th ESB and native of Arthur, Illinois. “This class really teaches you that you can actually make a change regardless of rank just by doing the right thing and by having the courage to make corrections and set the example.”
Marie said that senior Marines want the students to focus more on developing themselves into better Marines rather than thinking of the seminar as just another obligation to complete on the path to corporal.
“I think this seminar will be a success to anyone as long as they open their mind to it, and don’t just think of it as another check in the box,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew R. Lewis, an 8th ESB bulk fuel specialist and native of Kalamazoo, Michigan.
At the end of the week, the 50 lance corporals became the proud graduates of the pioneer Lance Corporal Leadership and Professional Ethics Seminar. The seminar’s leaders hope that with every graduating class, the Marine Corps’ foundation of honor, courage and commitment will be strengthened and that the young Marines will lead more confident and ethical lives both personally and professionally.