Leadership Development

Leadership Development

The changing face of the battlefield means Soldiers who traditionally may never have expected to find themselves in combat have to be prepared. The enemy will not stop and ask if you are infantry, armor, or field artillery before they attack. Everyone is a Soldier first and that means you have to know the basics.

SMA Jack L. Tilley

Mentoring helps soldiers to establish realistic personal and professional goals, and also helps them stay focused. Counseling tells soldiers where they stand, and it helps them focus on their goals. We must capitalize on everyone’s capabilities. We must see the good in everyone. We must see the good in our friends. We must see the good in our family. We must see the good in our leaders. We must not see through people, we must see people through. We must counsel them, coach them, and guide them. If you treat a person the way you see them, they’ll stay that way; but if you treat that person the way you want them to be, chances are they’ll change. If you see me as a lazy old bum, I’ll stay that way; but if you see me as a mature, intelligent person who can go out and make a lot of things happen, then for the most part I’m not going to go out and disappoint you. Whichever way you push me, that’s the way I’m going.

SMA Gene C. McKinney

The most enduring legacy that we can leave for our future generations of noncommissioned officers will be leader development. The three pillars of leader development are institutional training, unit expertise, and self development. The Noncommissioned Officer Education System that is now linked to promotions and our functional courses, such as the First Sergeant Course, serves as our institutional training. The second pillar is our unit leader development. The most important place for a noncommissioned officer is in a unit- leading and training soldiers and being developed by unit leaders based on the commander’s training plan. The third pillar is individual study and self improvement. This includes staying current on new battle doctrine and enrolling in self-development training and education.

SMA Julius W. Gates

As a leader, when the workday is over, there are other things that you have to do. You have to counsel those soldiers that you want to keep and promote. They need some help- help that you can’t give them in your specified training time. I’ve reminded many NCOs that they wouldn’t be where they are today if someone hadn’t given them a little extra time. I know I wouldn’t be where I am.

Anybody who comes into the NCO Corps has to be recommended by an NCO, whether it be a squad leader, section leader, platoon sergeant, or first sergeant. We’re the ones who really open the door for them. One good indicator as to whether a soldier should become a future Army leader is whether you are willing to let that person lead one of your loved ones. That’s the kind of person we need. Identifying good soldiers- potential leaders- and turning them into good noncommissioned officers is a complex process. The bottom line is simple, however: weed out the poor performers; teach the right soldiers the right things; and recommend the best soldiers for promotion and retention. The only way to prepare good soldiers to become noncommissioned officers is to place them in leadership positions and increase their responsibility according to their ability. This process takes time and patience. Noncommissioned officers make noncommissioned officers!

SMA Glen E. Morrell

When you pin that first stripe on, you’re going to have to make a mental adjustment. You’re going to have to weigh being a good friend on the one hand with being a good leader and dispatching your duties and responsibilities on the other. When you do, I think your peers must understand, “He was selected to be a leader.” I think most of them do. Sometimes you’re tested by your peers. That’s when you have to let everybody know: “Look, I was selected and I’m going to be the best possible leader that I can be. If I have to get on you now and then, that’s the way it’s going to have to be. I’m going to make you be good soldiers. At the same time, I’m going to develop you and give you a chance to be leaders, too.”

SMA Glen E. Morrell

When I ask NCOs if they have counseled their soldiers, I usually get a positive answer. But I bet that if I looked at the counseling statements, most- if not all- of them would be negative, indicating that the bad soldier is getting most of the attention. What is wrong with a positive counseling statement for the good soldier? And more importantly, what is wrong with paying more attention to the good soldier? We certainly have the tools available today to turn our attention to the good soldier.

The transformation that takes place when you say, “Jones, you are in charge,” is amazing. We would be much better served if we could do a better job of accentuating the positive. Pat that young NCO on the back when he does it right. Better yet, have the guts to underwrite NCO mistakes and back up our junior NCOs. Finally, look for solutions and suggest them instead of problems to our commanders.

SMA William A. Connelly

A pat on the back- applied at the proper moment in the circumstances- can have a dramatic influence in developing a leader.

SMA William G. Bainbridge