For Coast Guard Academy incoming swabs, summer is filled with yelling. For cadre, it is too. Eagle Cadre, however, have a different take on the yelling involved with Swab Summer. For us, we yell to be heard. We yell so that commands are clear and understandable to those on all masts. We yell so that safety can be guaranteed. We yell as a part of learning to lead.
Over the course of the past three weeks, I have struggled alongside my classmates in learning how to follow the lead of our classmates, as well as lead our classmates, all while having a division of swabs under us. As we reflect on the time we were given, we came upon a multitude of successes, as well as some things to work on as we continue to sculpt our leadership styles through the next two years at the Academy.
We realized that when we were underclass, there was always a cadet above us telling us what needed to be done. When we donned those white shields, all of a sudden we became the taskers. We became the ones the swabs come to when they don’t know what to do. We became the ones responsible for knowing where they are, what they are doing, and ensuring their safety. We stepped into the shoes of leaders, and took off running.
At the end of the day when we consider our three weeks in this leadership laboratory, we did alright. We didn’t lose any swabs, or allow anyone to get injured, and every swab as they were leaving the boat said they had a positive first underway experience. We as a cadre team learned to work in a cohesive and effective manner, allowing for tasks to be completed nearly seamlessly, and in a competent manner. We even learned to take control in a variety of situations, and use the wealth of information and variety of perspectives to our advantage.
Showing up for our first phase, there was a general confidence amongst the cadre section in our ability to lead. We all had a fairly rigid set of boundaries set for how we wanted things to be with our swabs, planned to follow our anticipations, and we did. And it’s not that we were unsuccessful the first week, but we came to the realization that we weren’t the most efficient leaders we could be. Only then did we really begin the learning process; the process of learning about ourselves, our various leadership styles, and really how to lead others.
After our first phase, however, I think it’s safe to say we realized how much we still had to learn. As we entered the second week, we brainstormed the most efficient manners in which to convey information, while allowing safety and an enjoyable environment to persist. Through that week, we recognized our strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and made goals to work on for the next week.
Through our third week, we worked on smoothing out the bumps in the road we encountered, and generally enjoying our last week onboard. We ensured the swabs were doing everything they needed to, learning and having fun, and spent the week getting to know them especially well. The last week’s swabs had already completed sea trials, thus signaling the conclusion of their Swab Summer, therefore that were the week when we were most able to be ourselves around them.
After our final week, we looked around and took a moment to reflect. We realized how much more efficient we had become as leaders and classmates; how cohesive our team structure was in its functioning, and most of all—how we had all come together to trust each other and our abilities to deal with problems in the most proficient manner possible. When we look back on our cadre summer, I think it’s safe to say that most of us, when we remember yelling, will remember not yelling at swabs to instill discipline or information, but yelling simply to be heard.
More about Meredith.