CU NROTC and Presidents Leadership Class Students Hone Leadership Skills Under Pressure

The students of University of Colorado’s Naval ROTC organized and conducted a Leadership Reaction Course (LRC) at the US Air Force Academy's “Jack's Valley” training complex on March 16th.  In addition to NROTC, 12 students from CU’s Presidents Leadership Class and nine Air Force Academy cadets also participated.

Senior NROTC students and faculty staff used the training facility to place all the participants in challenging problem-solving situations that required them to take on complex scenarios.  The events required moving different objects through obstacles, physical and mental endurance tasks, and effective communication skills under the pressures of time, uncertainty, and the overall need to “make something happen.”

"The LRC was a great time because it showed me some of my weaknesses in leadership and communication," said NROTC Midshipman 4th Class James Reynolds. "I really think this will help me become a better officer.”

"The LRC fostered a chaotic, open-minded environment that forced the participants to make decisive, bold and timely decisions in the face of adversity and an unknown timeline," said CU NROTC Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Ronald Lienhardt, student-in-charge for the event. "I wanted to help the midshipmen and PLC students recognize that 'good enough' is rarely 'good enough', and to be smart and experienced enough to recognize when the status quo needs to be challenged, while also recognizing when changing things for the sake of changing them is unnecessary."

There were eight 10-12 person squads of midshipmen and Academy cadets, and one squad of PLC students rotating all day between the events.  Each event saw a different student placed in the squad leader role.  Their responsibility was to receive the orientation brief about the restrictions and goal for the event, and then relay it to their squad.  Once the timer began, the squad leader gave directions on which ways to approach the problem and how each person would contribute.  Paramount to success was leveraging the capabilities of all the squad members without allowing the scenario to devolve in a discussion session where “perfect” became the enemy of “good.”

Said one PLC student, “… the experience was uniquely enriching, because that kind of scenario (stress, uncertainty, challenge) simply cannot be replicated in a classroom or conveyed through a lecture.”

Another PLC student commented that “I learned that I attempt to be extremely analytical and plan an entire task to the very end, which can be valuable in some scenarios; however there comes a point when the team must actually act,” and, “As a follower I found that there is an essential balance between listening to the leader and suggesting personal input, and once this balance is understood by the entire team, they will be successful.  One of the most important aspects of leadership that I learned throughout the LRC though was that respect on both ends carries a very long way and is critical in order to collaborate and make progress in any situation.”