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SMA Continues Effort to Build Strong Junior Leaders

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U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Adam Ross
Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Army is working to give junior leaders more time so they can focus on getting to know their soldiers and building disciplined, fit and proficient teams, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said.

“This has got all of our attention,” he said. “In order to be able to know everybody in your squad, I’ve got to give you time to know your soldiers.”

Grinston spoke Oct. 15 during a This is My Squad panel that featured company-level leaders from Army Futures Command, Army Forces Command, the Military District of Washington the Army Reserve. The panel was part of AUSA Now, the 2020 virtual annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army.

This is My Squad is one of Grinston’s key initiatives, and when he talks about a squad, he doesn’t necessarily mean it literally, he said.

“It’s more like a term of endearment,” he said. “This is more than about a section or an infantry squad. This is about those that are close to you, that you know and can recognize you as a person and an individual.”

One key to the This is My Squad effort is building and empowering staff sergeants to be strong, well developed leaders.

Squad leaders are typically staff sergeants, and “they’re who soldiers see,” said Capt. Kenneth Danos, a detachment commander with the Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory. Focusing on building them up will save time in the long run, he said.

Grinston agreed, adding that leaders must foster a culture where NCOs feel empowered to make decisions and correct, train and develop their soldiers. “If I can get that right, we’ll have NCOs out there getting things done,” he said.

And if one or two NCOs slip up or make a mistake, “we correct that action, develop them as an NCO, and they’re going to get better,” Grinston said.

When asked how the Army can help better develop junior leaders, the panelists called for more opportunities for schooling and training and the resources they need to train their soldiers. 

They also suggested more coaching and mentoring, an idea Grinston embraced.

This is something senior leaders are already studying, Grinston said, adding that he also wants to train senior NCOs so they can better coach and mentor younger leaders.

“This is really important,” he said. “We all have a role in how we build better junior leaders and how we build our squads.”