Leadership Communication 

Taking care of people means a lot of things. It can mean listening, advising, or making a correction when someone is making a mistake.

SMA Jack L. Tilley.



General Dennis Reimer told me very early on that he only had two pieces of guidance for me- be with soldiers and keep my eye on the future. Be with soldiers means I need to be where the soldiers are, I need to see what their concerns are, listen to them, and see things from the foxhole they serve in.

SMA Robert E. Hall



When you go out and get a briefing from soldiers, they will tell you all about their equipment. As soon as you say, “Tell me something about you,” there’s a sparkle in their eyes, their smile is larger. When you start showing and telling people how much you care about them, they won’t disappoint you.

As I travel around our Army, the one thing many NCOs and soldiers tell me is this: “When you talk with our leaders or commanders, ask them to listen to us. We know what we’re doing. We have the experience and all we want to do is to be part of the plan and then show them what we know. They won’t be disappointed.” When we provide positive leadership, it allows for “active listening.” And when we truly listen to our soldiers and NCOs, we find better ways to do things.

SMA Gene C. McKinney



All soldiers want are the facts and the truth. Allow information to flow without filters. Soldiers just want to know what’s going on and to know the truth. They want to know that they are appreciated and that their families will be taken care of. Informed soldiers make better career and lifetime decisions for themselves and their families.

SMA Richard A. Kidd



If the first sergeant and sergeant major are tied to a desk, they are short-changing their NCOs and soldiers. That should never be allowed to happen. I am not saying that first sergeants and sergeants major do not get involved in paperwork. Certainly they do. But they have to balance that desk time with field time.

I usually approach soldiers by telling them about where I came from and how I came up through the ranks. Then I’ll tell a funny story to put them at ease a little bit before having them ask me questions or tell me about things. Then I listen- it’s important to listen very carefully. The unit will usually have a schedule for me, but sometimes I will just go off and see someone I notice in the area. This keeps people on their toes and is a good way to get feedback.

SMA Glen E. Morrell



NCOs are the key to keeping the chain of command functioning and credible. Many times a leader will receive information, guidance, or orders from above. He selects what he thinks is important and passes that to his subordinate who in turn does the same thing. By the time the word reaches the soldiers who do the work, the only thing they get is “Do it!” That’s necessary sometimes, but most of the time it’s not. NCOs, whenever possible, should take time to explain why. Soldiers will do anything you ask them to do if they know why, and why it’s important.

Sometimes the soldier just thinks he’s got a problem. Well, if the soldier thinks he has a problem, then he really has a problem. What NCOs and officers alike have to learn is how to listen to problems. You may have heard that problem many times before and half the time the soldier just wants to get it off his chest, but you have to listen. People will be surprised how many problems they can resolve just by being interested enough to listen. Besides, there is usually some validity in everything the soldier has to say. Needed improvements will occur if officers and NCOs remember to take care of their soldiers. If you take care of your soldiers, they will always take care of you. Soldiers will do anything their leaders ask if they are convinced it is important and that their leaders care.

SMA William A. Connelly



Communication is dialogue- not monologue.

SMA Leon L. Van Autreve



Soldiers can solve 98 percent of their problems by just talking to someone about them. All you have to do is listen.

SMA William G. Bainbridge



The American soldier best performs his mission if he is well informed and knows the purpose of that mission. The soldier wants to know why. Credible answers often require reevaluation of traditional ways of doing things to make sure that they are based on sound logic and judgment. If so, they should be explainable. If not, they should be changed.

The burden of establishing communication with the soldier rests upon the NCO. Senior NCOs must listen more to their men, to their ideas, their hopes and fears. These veteran leaders must not let this vast source of education and know-how go untapped. It is not always necessary that the subordinate’s position be adopted. What is important to him is that he has been allowed to express his view and to participate.

On visits you should ask: Are the soldiers properly fed? Do they have the equipment? Do they have ammunition? Do they have weapons? Are they operable? How’s their morale? How can I support you?

SMA Silas L. Copeland