Before anyone could ever hope to lead Marines they must first learn to lead their peers. Officer Candidates School is interesting in that it tests whether individuals are capable of establishing command authority over their peers.
Being put in a candidate billet is going to mean close to nothing to your peers. It is an interesting reality that you must experience for yourself.
After 3-4 weeks of training and over a dozen billet changes candidates begin to lose respect for one another. This isn’t going to be true for every candidate, or platoon, but it is definitely common. Due to the many factors that contribute to this reality, it is difficult to explain exactly why this occurs.
There are some things candidate can do, and avoid doing, in order to help create a more cohesive environment.
Candidates do not respond to “Candidate Instructors”
To put it simply, candidates hate it when other candidates try to act like an instructor when holding a billet.
There is already going to be a Staff Platoon Sergeant hammering the platoon into chaos. Throw in a Candidate Platoon Sergeant who believes they would be most effective mirroring the Staff Platoon Sergeant, and you have a recipe for rebellion.
Keep in mind that the rebellion is going to be aimed towards the candidate billet holders, and it will make their leadership performance look incredibly poor.
The platoon WILL NOT respond to a candidate who thinks they have the same power and authority of an instructor.
OCS Leadership Is about Embracing the ‘T’ in “Tie”
If you don’t understand the reference learn the Marine Corps leadership traits right now.
Possessing tact means that you are able to work with people in a way that maintains good relations and avoids conflict. Maintaining tact with other candidates at OCS is absolutely critical. Some OCS failures can be directly attributed to a lack of tact.
A candidate hated by the platoon will not be able to obtain enough respect and confidence to prove to the instructors that you have what it takes to lead Marines.
Earn respect before you even get a billet
Don’t be the one who is pretending to make racks while everyone else is on their knees scrubbing the deck.
There is always going to be someone watching you so put 100% effort into everything you do.
Integrity is about doing the right thing whether you are being watched or not. If something needs to be picked up, cleaned, or put away then do it without having to be told. Too often candidates feel that the only effort worth making is that which will be noticed and accredited to them. This is the exact opposite of what being a Marine Officer is all about.
Don’t give other billet holders a hard time
Helping out billet holders means taking the initiative when something needs to get done that they don’t see. It also mean giving them your attentiveness and respect.
It is amazing how much the volume of the platoon declines once instructors leave the room and candidates take over. Yes, it is exhausting shouting every minute of the day. That doesn’t mean you should shout any less once a candidate is in charge. The instructors get infuriated when the platoon isn’t loud enough, especially when candidates are the ones receiving the response. They know the platoon is being lazy and it just won’t cut it.
There are many reasons why candidates turn on each other. Most have to do with the physical and mental exhaustion that comes with being at OCS. By following these tips you can form better relationships and avoid having the platoon despise you. There are inevitably going to be candidates who make things much more difficult then they have to be. Focus on building relationships and establishing a good attitude. The bad ones will get weeded out in the process.