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Leading the Tribes:  My next best-selling book is in the pipline.  Discover why transactional managers are hurting your team...

We can learn a few things from the Marines...

Recent years of military softness to cope with millennial recruits have not changed the Marine Corps approach to basic training.  I recently interviewed several Marine Corps recruiters to find out what they are seeing when it comes to the modern candidate for membership in the U.S. Marines.  The Marines are currently fighting the tendencies of most military organizations to change the expectations for new members of this tribe.  I was told that the Marines have not lessened the training intensity required to make young men into Marines as is the case in other branches of service.  This approach may be having the desired impact on strengthening rather than weakening the draw of young patriots to the world of military service.

When asked, one recruiter averaged about six new recruits per month.  Of the six, he estimated that two were coming in for patriotic reasons and four desired a path to a college education.  I see no problems with either reason for military service as neither are mutually exclusive and many combinations of both can exist.  However, it gets very interesting when you examine the allure of patriotism from a tribal perspective. 

While patriotism may not be the reason for service, I was told that recruits become patriotic once they start the training to become a Marine.  The intensity of the training creates bonds and being patriotic grows out of a sense of duty.  This sense of belonging that comes with becoming a Marine can hold the key to stronger tribes in other organizations. 

Placing the good of a team over ourselves feeds into the premise that we are indeed wired for tribalism.  Generations of humans existed in groups to survive.  This adversity experienced together bonded us as tribes.  In his book “Tribe”, Sebastian Junger shared research from the period when settlers began crossing the west and experiencing the indigenous North American Indian population.  After being captured by the Indian tribes in the mid to late 1700s, many white settlers became a part of the tribe’s culture and refused to go back to their lives once given the opportunity.  He stated the sense of belonging was intense compared to the modern alternative of the individual English settler.

Looking at the modern organization through these two independent perspectives can be quite interesting. 




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