FORT KNOX, Ky. – 4th Regiment Cadet Leaders Course, Alpha Company, discovered their strengths and weaknesses as they work on team building during the field leader reaction course June 21.
“I think our communication was awesome. People’s ideas weren’t really shot down and everyone had equal opportunity to contribute,” said Cdt. Daniel Frasch, Rochester Institute of Technology, Quakertown, Pa., “Also, the motivation was high; everyone was keeping a positive attitude. Nobody was getting frustrated with each other, that’s the best part of this. Frustrations can break down a squad quickly.”
The Cadets rotated through five of the 12 available obstacles in the course. They had five minutes to plan, 20 minutes to execute and five minutes to discuss afterwards.
“The thing I think we need to work on most is doing more detailed planning. For our previous two obstacles, we took a ‘gung-ho’ approach and just did as much as we could, leaving us to figure out how to get the last few people across afterwards. More planning would probably have led to a better outcome,” Frasch said.
As the squads are all new to each other, their successes and failures are unpredictable. Despite little prior planning, Frasch’s squad finished their third obstacle with a few minutes to spare.
“Most of the squads will fail. While that’s not the goal, it is to be expected. In first few iterations, they are still unfamiliar with each other; so the first iteration is always the shakiest one, but they progressively get better. The fourth and fifth is where they really start to come together as a team,” 2nd Lt. Ryan Burns, assistant officer-in-charge of the course, said of the results expected from the Cadets.
Each squad found they faced different challenges when it came to working together.
“The first station was tough for us because there were too many cooks in the kitchen. A lot of people were throwing out ideas, but we have a good group of guys so we recognized it and decided that whoever is in the leadership position should make the ultimate decision for the team,” stated Cdt. Kevin Graney, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, of Hanover, Mass.
The Cadets learned that understanding group dynamics while collaborating can be valuable for their trust.
“It’s good for us to get out there together, especially since we go out in the field tomorrow, so that we can build faith and trust in each other,” Graney said, “As a team we’ve been able to step back and listen to each other really well. We recognize and respect whoever is in a leadership role instead of stepping on each other’s toes.”
After completing each obstacle, the Cadets hold a hotwash, a quick after action report, with their lane instructor. They discuss the positives and negatives of the things the Cadets did and what they could have done better as a team because, at the end of the day, the goal is for the Cadets to learn something from their successes and their failures.
“If they didn’t complete it that’s fine, it gives them a chance to discuss some of their weaknesses and what they can benefit from in the future,” Burns said.