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MAWTS-1 hosts retired Marine, astronaut

By Lance Cpl. Robert L. Botkin | | September 22, 2005

Retired major general and former astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. addressed Marines enrolled in the Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course Sept. 14 in Toad Hall in Building 406 on the subject of operational risk management.

Currently self-employed as a military and aerospace consultant, Bolden is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and earned a Master of Science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California.

The presentation focused on operational risk management, but tied in heavily with leadership, said Bolden.

“I try to help these young officers and enlisted understand how (operational risk management) is just another way to be a good leader,” said Bolden. “I get called every once in a while by virtue of the fact that I was a general in the Marine Corps and asked, ‘Hey, can you come talk about leadership.’ When I do that I try to weave operational risk management into my talks about leadership (and) when I get asked to talk about operational risk management I try to weave in my thoughts about leadership.”

Operational risk management, when done the correct way, is just applying good leadership, and it’s impossible to apply good leadership without utilizing operational risk management on a basic level, said Bolden, a native of Houston, Texas.

“The two goals of leadership in the Marine Corps -- one is accomplishing the mission and the second is welfare of your people – I kind of expand on it,” said Bolden. “There are any number of things that people can say are goals of leadership. I think those two things are compilations of lesser things that are important. They’re so well interwoven that we can drop back to just the big two and without knowing it (accomplish other leadership goals).”

Drawing from his own experiences, Bolden told the story of situations where less-than-perfect leadership resulted in the loss of life.

“I will be the first to admit that not all Marines are good leaders,” said Bolden. “Fortunately we learn from bad leaders just as much as we do from good leaders, and I’ve had some horrible leaders from whom I’ve learned some tremendous lessons.”

Not all of those leaders were higher ranking, and not all were junior to him, said Bolden.

One of the toughest tasks he faced was trying to earn the respect of the young Marines he worked with.

Respect is a two-way street up and down the rank system, which is an important part of being a good leader, said Bolden.

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