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JLBC CADET CORPS Leadership Skills & Theories


JLBC CADET CORPS Leadership Skills & Theories

Carlyle was a product of his place and time. In Great Britain or Western Europe in the 19th Century, leaders were almost always members of the aristocracy and always men. Does that mean they were born to be leaders, but poor people, women, or people of color weren't? Or was it that the environment shaped what people became or were able to achieve? A poor kid in the slums of London wouldn't grow up to be a great national leader, no matter what great traits they might possess. That's not how the world worked.

Leonid Grinin defines a historical figure (a Great Man) thus: "Owing to his features, or a chance, or his social standing, or the peculiarity of the epoch, an individual by the very fact of his existence, by his ideas or actions (or inaction) directly or indirectly, during his lifetime or after his death may have such an influence upon his own or another society which can be recognized significant as he left a noticeable mark (positive, negative or unambiguous) in history and the further development of society." (Grinin, 2010). This is an excellent description of a 'great man, but it doesn't mean that only people born with certain traits can become 'great men.'

There are many methods or styles for being a great leader. Much of being a leader is dependent on the situation you're put in and your ability, developed throughout your life, to apply the right tactics to a problem or situation. Churchill was the perfect leader for World War II Britain, but he wasn't as effective in 1916 during the Gallipoli Campaign or in 1945, when he was voted out of office toward the end of the war because people felt his skills weren't right post-war Britain.

It is essential for people who want to be leaders (like cadets!) to study leaders from throughout history. What traits did they display? What led to their success or failure? What made them great? But we do this study to appreciate great leaders and extract lessons from their tactics, successes, and failures. We identified the skills they had (like being a great communicator).

For all the attention paid in history to great leaders, it is taken for granted today that leadership is an art and science that can be learned and developed. Some people are born with personality traits that make them natural leaders, but others can develop the knowledge and skills to become great leaders. US military and JLBC Cadet Corps doctrine state that leadership is developed through education, experience, and training. In many levels of military programs and throughout the JLBC Cadet Corps curriculum, aspiring leaders practice the skills that hone their ability to lead others. We gradually transform a student into a leader through academics, applied leadership experiences, staff service, and tools such as drills and ceremonies, uniform wear, and practice of customs and courtesies.

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