By Mr. Bryan Gatchell (Benning)August 28, 2018
COLUMBUS, Ga. (Aug. 28, 2018) - During the second day of the Centennial Leadership Symposium, Soldiers from Fort Benning, Georgia, learned from a university baseball coach and the former command sergeant major of Multi-National Forces - Iraq, at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia, Aug. 28.
The speakers were Greg Frady, Georgia State University baseball coach, who spoke about training and preparation during a morning session, and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mellinger, who spoke on the importance of mentorship during the afternoon session.
Frady became the most victorious baseball coach in Georgia State University history, achieving more than 300 wins for the university. He also has the highest winning percentage of any baseball coach in the school's history. In addition to his career coaching American college baseball, he also coached the German National Team for 11 years, and in 2016 he was inducted into the German Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame.
Frady talked about leadership in terms of what leaders need to do, specifically collect good information, make good decisions based on that information, and get their team on board with the decision.
"You're trying to accomplish the objective," said Frady concerning the ultimate goal of any team. "There are different ways about doing that, but that's what your job is."
Frady attributed duty accomplishment to competence.
"Competence stems from training through repetition, and then continuing to learn the information," said Frady. "These are the things that really matter: focus, concentration and intensity."
Frady defined focus as "the ability to stay locked on to the task or the objective at hand and stay in the moment crystal clear." He defined concentration as the sustainment of focus, and he defined intensity as the fuel, passion and heart.
He related his job of keeping his players motivated to win a baseball game to the job of the Soldiers in attendance to keep their units motivated. To do this, he told the audience to communicate with each of their team members.
"There are so many similarities between what you do and what I do because we're dealing with the same age group," said Frady. "It's your job to evaluate every person that's around you and work to try to create a better version of that person, and I challenge all of you to create a better version of yourself to start with."
Frady viewed the Army with respect and admiration and told the Soldiers they are upholding an organization held in high regard worldwide.
"The United States Army is not only respected, but it's envied by other nations," said Frady. "What they see is a culture of one: One direction, one team, one unit, one Soldier. This is to be respected, and this is to be feared.
"Make no mistake, being in the United States military, being in the United States Army, is a competition, and the world needs to know that," continued Frady. "That is one thing that I truly love about the United States Army, it's that everyone - it seems to me - is so competitive."
After Frady finished the morning session, the Soldiers broke out to return to the National Infantry Museum for the afternoon session.
The speaker for the afternoon, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey J. Mellinger, spoke about mentorship and delivered a torrent of other thoughts developed over the course of a nearly four-decade career.
Mellinger's time in the Army included serving as a Special Forces military freefall instructor at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; a senior team leader for the 75th Ranger Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment at Fort Benning; an assistant professor of military science at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks; and in many other positions that spanned a 39-year career. Mellinger also holds the distinction of being the last serving active-duty draftee of the Vietnam War era, having served from 1972 to 2011.
Mellinger urged the leaders in attendance to "regularly, knowingly and thoughtfully mentor others."
"No matter how smart or accomplished we think we are, every one of us needs a mentor," said Mellinger. "None of us could make our way through the world without the advice, coaching or example of others.
"It's about taking and giving advice and wise counsel and taking the time to share ideas or experiences with others," continued Mellinger. "It's one of the basic leadership responsibilities, taking care of Soldiers."
If the retrospective evaluation of leadership is in positive impact to the organization, Mellinger said, improving an organization is simple for a leader.
"Serving as a mentor is one of the easiest things you can do as a leader: All it takes is that you demonstrate care and concern for the well-being and the development of others," said Mellinger. "Getting involved in the future of those who will follow you is the surest way to know your own efforts will not be in vain. And the legacy you've inherited will pass to succeeding generations."
After concluding his talk on leadership, Mellinger gave the audience a full set of talking points about leadership, pausing only a moment or two between points to clarify a point with an anecdotal example either from recent Army history or from his own career and experience.
"I put these thoughts together over the course of a career and a whole lot more," he said.
He told the audience of Soldiers not to place their commander on the spot, not to do anything that appears improper, to recognize the good work of their subordinates, to take the time to talk to their Soldiers or Family members, to adhere to standards, to hold meaningful talks with their noncommissioned officers, to be loyal to those with whom they serve, to be upbeat and optimistic, to encourage their subordinates to challenge their ideas, to talk to their Soldiers about the benefits of military life, to maintain physical fitness alongside their Soldiers, to consider second and third order affects of a decision, to train as they plan to fight and much more.
"Leaders don't create followers," said Mellinger. "They create better leaders. If your goal is for your platoon to follow you and be a great platoon, you're only going to be marginally successful. If your goal is to create a whole platoon full of leaders that can do your job better than you, you're going to have huge success."
The Centennial Leadership Symposium takes place ahead of the 100th anniversary of Fort Benning.
Upcoming speakers for the event include retired Col. James R. Harper III, former U.S. Marine Corps judge advocate general; Scott Uzzell, president of venturing and emerging brands at Coca-Cola; and Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, mayor of Columbus, Georgia. This symposium is a free event.
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