Espirit de Corps – The Secret Ingredient for Successful Units

(This was written by Lt Col Ron Padavan, CAP, and published on CadetStuff.org)

Have you ever wondered why going from one unit to another can be like night and day? One unit’s morale is off the chart and the other is barely holding it together. In my long career in CAP, I have been fortunate that my positions have afforded me the opportunity to see many different units.

Some units are pumped up and excelled at everything they got involved in. It wasn’t just a select few that made this happen, it was the entire unit. It was genuine drive, determination, motivation and outlook that created the culture that wanted to do well. Anything that affected anyone in the unit was perceived as something that affected the entire unit. When one of their own excelled, they all excelled. When one struggled they all pulled together to help the beleaguered member

How do you create this culture? Where does it start? I would submit to you that it starts with an attitude, pride and commitment by the leadership. It starts with the leadership establishing a positive outlook, and reinforcing that everyone has a stake in the outcome of the unit and its performance.

For followers, commitment starts with the individual. Leaders must get them involved with the high stakes outcomes right away. Don’t let them sit around and not get involved, or they will have a harder time committing. Give them projects with delivery times and expect results. From the basic cadet to the most experienced senior, everyone wants to do something, doing nothing is a morale killer.

Rally the troops. Whenever there is an event involving any unit member, get the troops to fall out to witness the event and cheer him or her on. Everyone wants to be appreciated and respected by his peers. This will send a signal, loud and clear. You are one of us and we are proud of you. This applies to civilian activities as well as CAP activities. If someone in your unit is doing something in the “civilian” world, go out and cheer them on.

Seek publicity. Strive to get your unit’s successes highlighted in the newspaper or newsletter. You will be surprised how meaningful this can be for your unit members who” see their names in print” in the paper. Have an active PA program and encourage members to submit information. Show your support as a leader by regular submissions of your own, lead by example.

Have an active awards, decorations and recognition program. Put your people in for everything that they qualify for. Don’t forget the “of the year awards” as well as commanders commendations and simple certificates of recognition.

Talk up your unit accomplishments. Every unit has done something it can be proud of. Make sure your troops know of the unit history. Make them a part of that history.

These are but a few thoughts and ideas to help foster a culture of pride, identity and a winning attitude. The most important ingredient in success is leadership that is willing to take an active role in shaping and molding a culture everyone can identify with, but most importantly commit to.

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