"Thoughts from the Running Trail" - Leadership and Cross-Organizational Interaction through Sports

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Skinner, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa Senior Enlisted Leader, speaks to enlisted members during the CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT session on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2015. The PT session was designed for each member to rely on their teammates to successfully complete each exercise, building camaraderie, esprit de corps, teamwork and leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma) CJTF-HOA Senior Enlisted Leader speaks to Enlisted Members during CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT Session U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Skinner, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa Senior Enlisted Leader, speaks to enlisted members during the CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT session on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2015. The PT session was designed for each member to rely on their teammates to successfully complete each exercise, building camaraderie, esprit de corps, teamwork and leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma)
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Skinner, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa Senior Enlisted Leader, speaks to enlisted members during the CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT session on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2015. The PT session was designed for each member to rely on their teammates to successfully complete each exercise, building camaraderie, esprit de corps, teamwork and leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma) CJTF-HOA Senior Enlisted Leader speaks to Enlisted Members during CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT Session U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Skinner, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa Senior Enlisted Leader, speaks to enlisted members during the CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT session on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2015. The PT session was designed for each member to rely on their teammates to successfully complete each exercise, building camaraderie, esprit de corps, teamwork and leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma)
Soldiers fro the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, complete exercises as part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Enlisted PT session at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2015. The January PT session consisted of exercises designed to foster teamwork and unity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ian Dean) Soldiers from the 2/16th complete Exercises as Part of CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT Session Soldiers fro the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, complete exercises as part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Enlisted PT session at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2015. The January PT session consisted of exercises designed to foster teamwork and unity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ian Dean)
Maj. Gen. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Commanding General, addresses enlisted members during the CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT session at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2015. “Unity Through Fitness” was the theme for the January enlisted PT session. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ian Dean) CJTF-HOA Commanding General addresses Enlisted Members during CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT Session Maj. Gen. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Commanding General, addresses enlisted members during the CJTF-HOA Enlisted PT session at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 30, 2015. “Unity Through Fitness” was the theme for the January enlisted PT session. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ian Dean)

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in the way that little else does.” ~ Nelson Mandela

In the African context, sports’ has the ability to create national pride yet it also has the ability to unite - crossing nationalism, ethnicity, race, and religion and clan systems. When two groups from different cultures engage in sports, it is as much a cultural exchange as it is a competition.

The SgtMaj and I believe that leadership, building trust, being a better communicator and building your body and mind through physical training are skills fine tuned by playing sports. When we meet together for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa group Physical Training (PT), we have the opportunity to practice these same skills in ourselves and observe in our future leaders.

Additionally, during CJTF-HOA group PT, we open opportunities for social engagements, building unit morale, espirit de corps, offer alternative role models, and provide another informal way to communicate.

As leaders, the SgtMaj and I have purposefully selected PT to interact, unite, motivate, inspire, communicate and lead by example and we encourage and practice these three things:

  • Be physical and mentally strong
  • Provide a space for the future leaders to communicate informally during Physical Fitness
  • An opportunity to sharpen leadership skills in this leadership factory.

Performing and perfecting these areas also has the power to bind individuals and groups together and can be used as an engagement mechanism to build relationships.

Through events like sports and fitness like HOA PT we are able to accomplish our goals through physical fitness and also break down barriers created by language, culture, expectations and experience.  As we build a culture of fitness amongst ourselves, we can build a common bond of trust and understanding that helps us work towards our common goals.  By regularly participating in cross-organizational PT, we are joining together to become a stronger, more cohesive, joint combined force and the taskforce template for the future.

Ubuntu- See you on the running trail.

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Leadership Training 2/16th Infantry Battalion

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