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Tailored guidance replaces formal USMC mentoring program

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller speaks during an all-hands call aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, in the Coral Sea. Neller announced new leadership guidelines in July.

COSMO WALRATH/STARS AND STRIPES

By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 10, 2017

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — New guidelines for Marine leadership emphasize coaching and constant interaction between subordinates and leaders, a Marine official said Wednesday.

The new Marine Leader Development guideline issued recently by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller replaces the Marine Corps Mentoring Program, which had been in place since 2006. The MCMP was criticized for being overly formal and for a one-size-fits-all approach to mentoring.

The guideline outlines priorities such as family, fitness and finances, but does not prescribe exactly what to say or do regarding each area. This allows leaders to tailor the way they mentor Marines to suit the situation.

“Removing the prescriptiveness of (MCMP) is a win,” said Capt. George Chronis, commanding officer of Headquarters Company of Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa. “Anytime you create a new box that must be checked, you immediately infuse it with a certain amount of sterility.”

Marine Corps training has come under scrutiny since the April court-martial of a Marine Corps drill instructor in connection with the death of a Muslim Marine recruit. Raheel Siddiqui died during recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Paris Island in March 2016. Critics have said the death stemmed from a deep problem within the Marine Corps culture.

The Marine Corps’ Lejeune Leadership Institute describes the new guidance as a comprehensive approach that seeks to foster development of all aspects of Marines’ personal and professional lives. The institute says it is neither a philosophy nor a program; rather, it is a framework to be used by Marines at all levels.

The old MCMP was noted for assigning mentors and mentees for each Marine based on rank. The new guideline says that commands should identify subject-matter experts in their units, regardless of rank, to mentor Marines based on their specialties.

“Mentorship, or more broadly development, will never be successful as a box to check,” Chronis said. “The leader must have a genuine desire to contribute to the development of his Marines and an appreciation for the privilege of bearing witness to that growth. (The MLD) lays that foundation well.”

Unlike the formal mentoring program, the new leader development says that mentoring is a voluntary relationship between two individuals and “should not be directed or forced.”

“The biggest challenge will always be the component of time,” Chronis said. “In reality, time is never in abundance. And unfortunately, we sometimes lose sight of our most important priorities, like developing leaders, in order to accommodate more tangible and immediate demands.”

The less formulaic guidance aims are meant to fit better into the packed schedules of Marines than dealing with the official documentation of the MCMP.

“I think we need to pull ourselves away from mandatory, box-checking training requirements to the greatest extent possible,” Chronis said.

egnash.martin@stripes.com
Twitter: @Marty_Stripes

 

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller addresses sailors and marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group during an all-hands call aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, in the Coral Sea.
JEANETTE MULLINAX/U.S. NAVY

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