By Joe Shemanski (SMBA '11)
Friday afternoon former U.S. Marine Steve Gera led the class through a Leadership Reaction Course at San Dieguito County Park. The course was designed to test each individual’s leadership ability. The class was divided into groups of four and each group was put through four challenges. Each challenge was a simulation which put the group in a stressful environment with a mission to complete. The designated leader, with the help of their team members, had to design and execute an action plan in order to successfully navigate through the challenge and complete the mission.
In addition to Steve Gera, four other Marines were on hand to act as administrators. At each challenge, the Marine briefed the leader on the situation. As the leader took action to direct their team, the Marines were tasked to ensure each team did not violate any of the rules that were put in place. The Marines were there to not only ensure the teams followed the rules, but also to provide feedback on what it takes to be a good leader. After each mission, the team was de-briefed and had the opportunity to discuss the scenario with the administrator.
In between challenges the Marines taught hip-pocket classes on what it takes to be a good leader. They called on their experiences in the Marines, including their deployment to Iraq, to provide real examples of what it takes to be successful. In the business world, we may not encounter situations that are as stressful or as serious as being deployed in a war, however, some of the same principals may apply. The course provided an experience that you can’t have sitting in a class. It provided real feedback on our leadership skills, including our individual strengths and weaknesses.