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News & Press: Annual Conference Speaker Spotlights

Leadership Traits to Live By

Wednesday, February 5, 2020   (0 Comments)
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Written for AAOE by Shane Melenbacker, Administrator for Klasinski Clinic Orthopaedics

Learn more by attending Shane Melenbacker's AAOE 2020 Annual Conference Session, "Leadership Traits to Live By".

It was a stunning hotel in the heart of a bustling Mexico City. The extreme heat and humidity outside had made its way through the hotel’s interior, the air conditioning running just enough to keep it moderately comfortable. Standing guard outside the National Security Advisor’s office, with only a few minutes left on my shift, I looked down the hall to see the Advisor accompanied by five or six of his entourage walking in my direction.

My mission was to ensure that only individuals, with the proper security clearance, were allowed entrance to his office. If I failed at this, I failed my mission. That evening, my ability to do my job, while keeping my composure, would set the course for my future career… and whether or not I would have one in the morning.

At 18, I joined the United States Marine Corps. By 19, I was carrying a locked and loaded 9mm around the President of the United States and his top advisors. When I was 21, I was the Assistant Team Leader of a highly trained Reconnaissance team.  The team was my family and my leaders were not only relied upon to lead with wisdom and strength, but trusted to make life or death decisions in a moment’s notice.


There is one thing that myself, my leaders and all Marines have in common, we are all taught the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits…traits to live by and traits to die by.


·       Justice

·       Judgment

·       Dependability

·       Initiative

·       Decisiveness

·       Tact

·       Integrity

·       Endurance

·       Bearing

·       Unselfishness

·       Courage

·       Knowledge

·       Enthusiasm


While I no longer actively serve in the military, these leadership characteristics remain a center-point to my everyday leadership and decision-making. They are not only important on the battle field, but also in the everyday workings of life.


In its most basic form, leadership is about trust, and trust must be earned. These traits, when applied appropriately, lay the foundation for building a trusting relationship with those around you. Whether you are a new leader or one with years of experience, there are always ways to build deeper trust between you and your team.


That muggy evening in the hallway of a Mexico City hotel taught me a great lesson in leadership; one that I will never forget. But, to hear how the story ends, come to my presentation “Leadership Traits to Live By.” I look forward to seeing you at AAOE 2020, San Diego.


About the Speaker

Shane Melenbacker served for six years in the Marine Corps, three providing security for the communications of the President of the United States and three as an Assistant  Team Leader in a Reconnaissance unit. With degrees in Business Administration and Health Sciences as well as an MBA in Operations Management and Strategic Planning, Shane as spent almost 15 years in healthcare management, both in large systems and private clinics. Currently, Shane is the Administrator of Steven Point Orthopedics and lives in Central Wisconsin with his wife and seven-year-old son…and they go camping as much as possible!

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