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March 18, 2023

LtGen David Furness, USMC – Rather than Yelling and Hazing, Try Focusing on Leadership Through Building Personal Connections, Rapport, and Culture

LtGen David Furness, USMC – Rather than Yelling and Hazing, Try Focusing on Leadership Through Building Personal Connections, Rapport, and Culture

In this episode of Moments in Leadership, host David B. Armstrong invites LtGen Dave Furness back to the show to discuss various topics related to leadership.


LtGen Furness covers the importance of leadership in making organizations successful and the difference in the interaction between the lieutenants and the captains. LtGen Furness emphasizes that leaders should be frequent in praising their subordinates and building goodwill, loyalty, and commitment. He believes that the best Marine organizations are those where the collective goes above and beyond what's required and that this is achieved by leaders who care about their people and are passionate about making their journey better.


To make this happen, he stresses the importance of mentorship and making time for it, regardless of rank. He emphasizes the obligation of senior leaders to impact as many people as possible and advises leaders to stand up for their beliefs and tell their bosses the necessary information, even if it's not what they want to hear.


While every leader is responsible for setting this culture and foundation, the episode also covers the need for senior leadership to operationalize the various lines of effort in the USMC, such as Talent Management, Training, and Education. LtGen Furness suggests that leadership needs to be taught as a personal connection to another human being, and the first step to establishing this relationship is building rapport. He talks about the importance of building a relationship quickly to establish trust.


Institutionally, LtGen Furness also discusses the impact of hazing and yelling in military training on the development of young Marines. LtGen Furness argues that theatrical yelling, screaming, and hazing contribute to a culture that teaches Marines that this is the way to lead. Instead, he suggests removing such behaviors and adopting a more professional approach that holds Marines accountable for their actions without resorting to hazing. 


LtGen Furness has given a 90-minute class to every Basic School company for the last two and a half years. The class covers the role of leaders in making organizations elite and how to lead organizations. Afterward, he stays and answers questions until the lieutenants are tired of asking. He notes that the questions are very informed and cover topics such as strategic policy, force design, and leadership hypothetical questions about scenarios they might face when entering the operational forces. He says that the lieutenants ask better questions than he did at a similar stage in his career.


Overall, the episode is an insightful discussion about leadership, the importance of mentorship, and the need for leaders to build relationships with their subordinates.


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Relevant Resources & Other Mentioned Episodes:


Listen to Ep 13: SgtMaj Don Reynolds, USMC - Officer and Staff NCO Relationships: The Good, the Bad, the Right, and the Wrong

Listen to Ep 14: MajGen Dale Alford, USMC - Leadership in Combat at Every Rank He Has Ever Held

Listen to Ep 16: LtGen David Furness, USMC - Navigating the Decline in Marine Discipline, Increasing Marine Corps Retention, the “Basic Daily Routine” and Post-Traumatic Winning 

Listen to Ep 21: The Hotwash – A Leadership Panel of Six Officers Discuss their Opinions of the Past Episodes 

Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet, Captain U.S. Navy (Ret) (not an affiliate link)


What is Moments in Leadership?

Moments in Leadership is a podcast where you will hear firsthand about the careers of senior military leaders as they share their unique and individual experiences. Moments in Leadership will immerse you in real-life stories where you will learn about the challenging situations these accomplished leaders faced and discover the lessons they learned early in their careers that were the most influential in developing their overall leadership style. 


Conceptualized by a group of friends who served together as young officers in the early to mid-1990s sitting around a firepit telling funny leadership stories, Moments in Leadership is designed to provide some relatable context to the formal leadership training leaders of all ranks and services receive throughout their military careers through the power of storytelling.


Why Should You Support this project? 

I realize all of the leaders who listen to the episodes are at different levels of life, and my goal is to be able to have this project remain free and available to anyone who wants it and your donations help go towards that. Your donations go towards offsetting my costs of producing high-quality episodes. Additionally, since this is a part-time hobby project for me, I'm forced to outsource a good deal of work to others to maintain a regular publishing schedule. Your donations help offset these costs as well. 


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Other Podcasts Interviews with David B. Armstrong

Scuttlebutt Podcast EP 38

Former Action Guys Podcast EP 161 

Former Action Guys Podcast EP 141 

Former Action Guys Podcast EP 60 

Former Action Guys Podcast EP 54 


About the Host:

David B. Armstrong, CFA, is President and Co-Founder of Monument Wealth Management, an independent wealth management firm he started in 2008 in Alexandria, Va. David received his BA from the University of South Carolina in Government & International Relations and his MBA at the University of South Carolina's Moore School of Business in International Finance. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant through the Navy ROTC program and served on Active Duty in the Marine Corps from 1990-1997 as an Artillery Officer and then received a secondary MOS as a Tank Officer. He re-entered the Selected Marine Corps Reserves in 2003 and served in several billets across the Artillery, Tank, and Light Armored Reconnaissance communities. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in late 2018.