A Parade of Inspiration

I recently had the privilege of attending the Friday evening parade at the Marine Barracks, Washington DC. Those who have spent time in the Marines will recognize it as a standard affair: a lot of pomp and circumstance where the band plays, orders are announced, and the Marines pass-in-review. (To see what it’s all about, check out this video)

If you’ve never seen it, the parade is truly a sight to behold. And, as a former Marine, it is with immense pride that I watched these Marines carry on the traditions of the corps. I can safely say that everyone in attendance was awed by the precision of the drill movements, the beauty of the music and, especially, how young these Marines are! Until you see it in person, it’s easy to forget that very important fact, for these young people have skills beyond most others their age.

Marines and Soft Skills…Really??

I am constantly on the lookout for how to apply theoretical concepts to everyday realities. I had one of those moments at the parade, having just read an article on the Entrepreneur website, “The 10 Unique Soft Skills Employers Desire in New Hires”. In case you need a refresher, the 10 soft skills are:

  1. Being dependable
  2. Pulling together a presentation
  3. Solving problems
  4. Coaching co-workers
  5. Fitting into the company’s culture
  6. Voicing opinions while being open to feedback
  7. Being flexible and focused
  8. Being creative and innovative
  9. Developing new work processes
  10. Taking initiative

While watching the grandeur of their performances, it occurred to me how often these young Marines demonstrate all 10 of the unique soft skills. That’s not something you often find in one group of people.

Making the Connection

Many of these soft skills, such as “Being dependable”, and “Fitting into the company’s culture”, seem to be no-brainers. So let’s take a closer look at the others to see how the military cultivates individuals with such desirable (and ultimately professional) skills.

2) Pulling together a presentation. It’s not easy to conduct crowd control and be an entertainer, but that’s exactly what the Crowd Educators do. The young Marines tasked with this job are part stand-up comic, part history teacher, and part safety instructor. Keep in mind that they will generally be somewhere between 18- and 20-years old and have about 1-2 years experience in the Corps.

3) Solving problems. One of the main challenges the Marines face is determining how many general admission tickets to issue, and then getting all those people seated. They must also multitask when helping people with physical challenges, special groups, and people who are just plain lost.

4 & 5) Coaching co-workers and Voicing opinions while being open to feedback. To be able to perform to the high standards set not only for performing in the parade, but also in all of the duties the Barracks Marines perform, Marines must be open to coaching each other as well as providing feedback up and down the chain of command.

8 & 9) Being creative and innovative and Developing new work processes. Just watch the Silent Drill Platoon. The creativity of the performances exemplifies how much they value giving the audience different experiences without straying too far from their standard fare.

10) Taking initiative. Step up and make things happen. Not something a lot of people would equate with the military, but that’s exactly what happens in a fluid environment. There isn’t one moment before, during or after the parade where a Marine isn’t required to be proactive.

Consider this: If you were an employer seeking to hire new employees, and you were made aware of the myriad skills Marines have honed, or any Military Veteran for that matter, why wouldn’t you hire them? They truly have all the soft skills an employer desires.

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