The Inbox

Thanks for the Compliment
I just received the Summer 2011 issue, and, I must say, what an improvement in the format! Much more visually appealing, much easier-to-read font sizes and an overall pleasure to hold in your hand.
Rafael L. Nones, W’71

Toleration and Great Leadership Training
As a Vietnam veteran, I enjoyed your article, “Commanding the Field” (Summer 2011, P. 28). It triggered a lot of memories. Something else speaks to the outstanding makeup of the five Wharton MBAs. People above the age of 22, or 23, will have an extremely difficult time. Once we have been out in the world, and have developed a stronger adult sense of self, it takes a lot to tolerate a gunnery sergeant’s constant screaming and humiliation. Even at 24-hours, it can be a shock.

Semper Fi to Marine Robert Seo. His comments about having to react when things aren’t going well are spot-on. In officer basic training, the constant refrain was “what will you do Lieutenant … NOW!?” Best leadership training I ever had. Of course, Wharton Grad is a close second. Thanks for a great article.
Walter T. “Toby” Decker, WG’69

Putting People and Training First
Your story about Wharton MBA students learning leadership skills during their 24-hour Marine Corps boot camp program (“Commanding the Field”) missed perhaps the most important point about how the Marines develop leaders. While the article focused on obvious aspects of rigor and the team-based training, what really separates Marine Corps leadership training is their emphasis on placing top performers in training roles.

That’s right; the Marines actually pull their top performers—both officers and enlisted—from the front lines and use them as trainers, sometimes for two and three-year stints. The boot-camp instructors who interacted with the Wharton students all endured a highly selective process to become part of the Officer Candidate School staff. Training and leadership development duties are viewed as some of the best and most well rewarded assignments within the Marine Corps. A quick look at the biographies of top Marine generals and enlisted personnel will all have one thing in common: They all served significant time away from the front lines in important training and leadership development roles.

As a former Marine Corps officer, my one piece of advice is that, if you want to truly emulate the Marine Corps way, focus on the people—not the rigor.
Patrick Lefler, WG ’88

What Magazine Is This?
When I received my copy of Wharton Magazine with the pic of the young lady in military gear, I thought, “What magazine is this?”

Interesting article about the “leadership” training of the Wharton students at Quantico (“Commanding the Field”). I can relate because, as a Wharton MBA— circa 1969!—I attended as an active-duty Army officer, having recently returned from a 20-month Vietnam tour.

My MBA served me well in my 30-year career, and I have thought about writing an article to highlight the similarities in leadership and management between the military and business. Just as my undergraduate university, USMA-West Point has sustained a top three rating for many years. So has Wharton in the MBA field. Proud to be a graduate of both!
Col. James B. Lincoln (Ret.), WG’69

Like Eskimos—Really?
I feel the contradiction running throughout the article, “Ethics Beyond Borders” (Spring 2011, P. 34), trying to sell ethics to Wharton business graduates—a little like trying to sell ice to Eskimos. Most of my career, off and on, was in the hotel industry in management, first sales then marketing, finally as general manager in commercial hotels and resorts.

There has never been a time in more than 30 years when I have worked for vice presidents that my instructions were “do whatever it takes, no matter what.” My sense of ethics and honesty cost me a job here and there. My personal ethics are these:

I wouldn’t do anything that would embarrass my wife, my family, my mother and father if it appeared in the morning papers.

Either you know what’s right and you live by it, or you don’t. You can’t teach morality or legislate it.
C. Roger Fulton Jr., WEV’68

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