Civilians learn Army leadership skills
January 14, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- A group of about 65 local business leaders visited Fort Jackson Tuesday to learn about Army leadership principles.
The visitors were part of Leadership Columbia, a program sponsored by the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce that aims to enhance young leaders' understanding of the community.
Kevin Markland, a commercial lender with Wachovia Bank and a member of the Chamber of Commerce, said the visit to Fort Jackson was meant to give the young businessmen and women a different perspective on leadership than they might get from the civilian world.
"We try to expose them to leadership skills development, and Fort Jackson is certainly a good place to do that," Markland said. "There are certainly leadership skills taught in the Army that have carry-over into the business community."
The visitors spent the morning in classroom training sessions and then heard from several of Fort Jackson's senior leaders. They also had the opportunity to spend time in a weapon simulator and experience the same training Soldiers at Fort Jackson go through.
Chaplain (Col.) Christopher Wisdom, deputy commandant of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, said developing leaders is a priority in the Army, and said businesses should create an environment in which people can feel comfortable in reaching beyond their comfort zones and trying new things.
"There is nothing more important to the future of an organization than the manner in which it is led," Wisdom said. "There is nothing more important to the future of a leader than the process by which he or she grows."
Brig. Gen. Bradley May, Fort Jackson post commander, told the group that the environment and climate of any organization is critical to success.
"You don't want to work in a negative environment," May said, "because, quite frankly, life is too short. You want to live life with a passion."
May said motivating people is the same for any organization, whether it is a military unit in combat or a civilian corporation.
"It's about making people feel appreciated and that they are valued," he said. "People want to feel like they are part of a winning team."
Don Jenkins, a retired naval officer and managing director of the Leadership Development Institute, said the visit to Fort Jackson provided a unique view of leadership that many never see.
"Our young leaders need to understand how critical individual character is in their development," Jenkins said. "They need to understand that the kind of courage displayed by the Soldiers they see at Fort Jackson is the same kind of courage they need to show in the business community."