Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. -- Leaders across II Marine Expeditionary Force participated in a Lean In Circle event at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Jan. 20, 2016. The event was attended by both male and female leaders from the enlisted and commissioned ranks, to include Maj. Gen. Walter L. Miller, the commanding general of II MEF, and Brig. Gen. Robert E. Castellvi, the deputy commanding general of II MEF and the commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
In Sept. 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced a partnership with LeanIn.Org, an organization founded by Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. The organization serves as an open forum and support group to empower women in the workplace. Carter and other leadership recognized a need to incorporate men and women in these groups when the concept was brought to the Department of Defense.
“I believe the Lean In Circles that are inclusive of both men and women will create a stronger bond between us, and will help preserve the mission of the Marine Corps,” said Lt. Col. Mary Kate Flatley, the co-founder of Lejeune’s chapter, Camp Lejeune All Ranks. “That is the purpose of creating a Lean In Circle for Camp Lejeune.”
The group invited Brig. Gen. Loretta E. Reynolds, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Cyber Command, to guest speak at the event.
“We invited Brig. Gen. Reynolds to be our guest speaker for our first event because she is the only female active-duty general in the Marine Corps,” Flatley said. “She offers an inspirational message and she motivated the audience with her discourse.”
Reynolds reflected on what she’s learned about leadership throughout her extensive career, and the understanding that leadership involves a responsibility to mentor and sponsor other Marines.
“The piece of advice that I would give you is: delivery is everything,” Reynolds said to the audience. “When there’s a teachable moment, certainly teach.”
Reynolds said it’s important to use these Circles as an opportunity to come together and help change the tone of the dialogue surrounding Corps-wide or local issues. She shared her experience through topics that included promotion, working with an ever-shrinking pool of peers, and how beneficial mentors and sponsors are to retaining Marines in the service.
Marines attending the event were invited to start smaller circles within their units that are gender neutral. The intent is to have smaller Circles meet throughout the Camp Lejeune area regularly and come together for big quarterly events.
“When I read “Lean In”, by Sheryl Sandberg, she discussed how we as leaders need to look for people to mentor,” Flatley said. “The purpose and concept of “Lean In” is an important tool we can use for mentorship for our men and women, which ultimately are our greatest asset.”