Power of Communication Begins 5th Year on USMC Commandant Reading List

At the start of 2017, Logos Consulting Group is pleased to note that The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively is beginning its fifth year on the Professional Reading List of the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.

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About the Commandant’s Professional Reading List

The Commandant’s Professional Reading List was launched in 1989 by then-Commandant Gen. Alfred Gray.

In the 2012 letter to all Marines about the List, General James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, said that General Gray

“clearly understood that the development and broadening of the mind is a critical aspect of the true warrior’s preparation for battle.  General Gray viewed reading as the means of preparing for the future, and combat in particular.  He ensured that his Marines knew he considered mental preparation as important as physical conditioning or even MOS [Military Occupation Specialty] training.

“The idea of Marines diligently pursuing the profession of arms by reading on their own has resonated inside and outside the Corps… Marines take great pride in being part of a thinking and learning organization.  The emphasis on thoughtful reading has stood us in good stead over the years.  The adaptation and flexibility shown by Marines faced with a variety of different situations and challenges was anchored in many years of mental preparation for combat.”

The Commandant’s Professional Reading List consists of more than 150 books divided into 19 groups; ten of the groups are rank-specific, nine are in categories such as Leadership, Strategic Thinking, Counterinsurgency, and Aviation. The Power of Communication, by Logos president Helio Fred Garcia is one of eight books in the Leadership category.  Others in that category include:

The books on the Commandant’s Professional Reading List were selected as most pertinent to critical thinking and professional development at each rank.

At minimum, three books per year are required to fulfill annual reading criteria for all active duty and reserve Marines, officer and enlisted. The Professional Categories section presents recommended reading for exploration of selected topics.

Other books of note on the Commandant’s List include:

The Art of War by Sun Tzu, for First Lieutenants.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, for Sergeants, Staff Sergeants, and Captains.
Blink: the Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, for Majors and Lieutenant Colonels.
Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger, for Colonels and Generals.

General Robert B. Neller, the current and 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, encourages Marines to use the list as a starting point, not a destination.  In a memo to all Marines accompanying the current Reading List, General Neller said,

“I want Marines to read beyond the list, too, especially paying attention to current events, science and technology, and what our potential adversaries are up to around the world.”

The Power of Reading

Retired Marine general James Mattis, nominated to become Secretary of Defense, has been a strong advocate for reading.  He told colleagues, according to the security blog Strife,

“The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.

Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun.

We have been fighting on this planet for 5000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. “Winging it” and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the moral dictates and the cost of incompetence in our profession. As commanders and staff officers, we are coaches and sentries for our units: how can we coach anything if we don’t know a hell of a lot more than just the [Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures]?”

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The Power of Communication is written primarily for civilian business leaders, but it adapts the leadership principles of the Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication No. 1, Warfighting, as a conceptual framework to help leaders become habitually strategic.

In reflecting on the Commandant’s list, Garcia said,

“I have had the honor of teaching and consulting with Marines and of getting to know them for more than 25 years.  In that time I’ve been impressed with their commitment to training, teaching, and learning.  The commitment of those at the top to reading, thinking, and reflecting just enhances my view of Marines.  I think that would be the case even if my book wasn’t on the list.  But it’s an added honor, privilege, and delight for me to know that I can continue to influence Marines and their way of thinking at a distance.”

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One thought on “Power of Communication Begins 5th Year on USMC Commandant Reading List”

  1. Outstanding and well deserved to be there. Invaluable resource. Thank you Mr. Garcia.

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