“Action Man” – Know Your Role and Be a Hero

by Matt Rasmussen

Have you ever had the Lieutenant Colonel who was the best squad leader in the battalion and made sure everyone knew it? Ever seen a team leader trying to lead a fire team from the rear during a live fire? Have you ever had majors worrying about whether soldiers should load ruck sacks or duffel bags into the belly of an aircraft?

The results aren’t always pretty. The organization suffers when leaders forget the level at which they’re supposed to lead. At each rank, officers and NCOs fit into the unit in different ways. Their expanding education and experience means that they should bring different talents to the organization. The unit depends on them for it.

This article is a framework for visualizing and describing the types of leaders a unit will typically see:  Action Man, Planning Man, Concept Man, and Decision Man. No rank or role has greater value than the others, only different responsibilities and functions in the formation. If today’s military leader knows where he fits into the team and what role he plays, he’ll be a hero.


Prevent Power from Corrupting Your Leadership

We are all familiar with the warning that “power corrupts.” And if you’re like me, when you hear the phrase the first type of corrupted power you think of is greed. The ruthless Gordon Gekko from Wall Street comes to mind. If you shift the phrase to the military frame of reference, you might think of generals breaking joint ethics regulations on TDY travel and contracting, or perhaps the senior leader with the moral lapse.

The commonality among them is a feeling of invincibility that either distorts judgment or severs behavior from prudent thought. When power is involved, we are all at risk.


A U.S. soldier stands in formation during Exercise Rapid Trident’s opening ceremony in Yavoriv, Ukraine, Sept. 15, 2014. The soldier is assigned to U.S. Army Europe’s 173rd Airborne Brigade. Link to photo.

People…the Army’s Legacy of Leadership

by Matt Rasmussen

There’s an old adage you’ve likely heard, “The Army is not about people, it is people.” Army leaders and soldiers pay attention to endstrength more than any other service because people are the power behind everything the Army does. And because people are so critical to the Army, leadership is the fundamental action that Army leaders must understand and master in the course of their career. Leadership provides soldiers and junior leaders the purpose, direction, and motivation to execute the tasks to fulfill the mission, large or small.

If the Army is people, the Army is also family…and I’d like to tell you about mine. My family is an Army family. We count at least twenty of us who have served and most of those are combat veterans of World War I, World War Two, the Cold War, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Since 2001, between two uncles, myself, and three cousins, our family has almost continually had at least one member deployed. This rich history of mostly Army service was impressed on us mainly by my grandfather, BG (retired) Jim Shelton.


Soldiers salute the colors before the 2016 All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Jan. 9, 2016.
The soldiers are assigned to Fort Sam Houston. U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Bethany L. Huff

Leadership Speed and Why It Matters

In a post from earlier this year, I shared some of the guidance I issued during my company command time nearly ten years ago. In How Do You Spot a Leader?, I suggested the notion that leaders naturally move faster than everyone else.

If you are a leader and you find yourself moving slowly throughout the day, you are probably not doing enough to help out the team.  Most of the time, leaders dart from one event to the next, or are focusing to create a new product/presentation that will help the team.  They are always looking to identify problems in the organization and tackle them quickly, so that the organization can become better or more effective.

Leaders create and disseminate energy throughout the organization to keep it moving in the right direction and responding appropriately to the environment. There is an inherent risk, however, for naturally driven leaders who move quickly towards success. Today, I want to talk about this risk.


Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, sprint to emplace an M240-B machine gun as they demonstrate crew drills to Afghan National Army soldiers prior to a foot patrol May 8, 2012, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod.

Professional Development, One Paragraph at a Time (ProDev2Go)

A New Blog by Ross Coffman

What does an Army Colonel do after he finishes killing it in brigade command? …Start a professional development blog, of course! Today, let me highlight a new blog that you’ll definitely want to make part of your professional development plan.

ProDev2Go just fired up last month, but is the continuation of a groundbreaking leader development approach by one of the most successful brigade commanders in the Army today.


Breaking Barriers

While in command down at Fort Bliss, Colonel Ross Coffman sought a new way to connect his Troops with his leader development vision, something better than the usual death by PowerPoint. So, he got a Twitter account, then created a YouTube and podcast channel called Ready First. He and his Command Sergeant Major used this novel approach to communicate with the command, relay their leader development and tactical experience, and show that Army leaders are capable of getting out of their comfort zone to reach their people.

Rapid Fire Mentorship

Now, as a testament that the best leaders never stop looking for ways to have positive influence, Colonel Coffman dove head first into the blogging world and created ProDev2Go as a way to provide high quality leader development in short bursts. The concept is simple:

As a “Leader on the Go” we understand that you desire a succinct learning opportunity that provides a written glide path for success.  This leader development site is a single paragraph of lessons learned that you can use in a practical role in your workplace, job, business, or employment. We are changing Leaders one Paragraph at a time!!!

Plugging into ProDev2Go is like being mentored by a brigade commander, something we all could benefit from. You’ll find insight on trust, mission command, leader development, warfighting doctrine, and many other useful topics.

Head on over there now and check it out!

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Achieving Effects with Your Boss, pt. 2: Intentional Engagement

Spotlight Ranger. That’s the label service members use to characterize people who put in average performance day to day, then put on a show whenever the boss is around. Soldiers see right through them and they earn little respect in the unit.

While you must at all costs avoid becoming a spotlight ranger (i.e. dedicate yourself to superb performance regardless of the audience), you don’t want to miss an opportunity to showcase your unit’s good work to your boss. The first post in this series focused on how to start off on the right foot with a new boss. Today’s post looks at how to engage during three types of opportunities you will encounter during your tenure as leader.


Brig. Gen. Robert B. Abrams, National Training Center commanding general, briefs Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, TRADOC commanding general, during Dempsey’s visit to Fort Irwin, Cali., Sep. 23, 2009. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Angelica G. Golindano.)

“Sir, you humiliated us.” – A Commander’s Lesson in Leadership

Guest author Captain Joel Martinez shares his story of humility in command

Reading a post on The Military Leader one day, a question reminded me of a critical leadership lesson I learned from my time in command. It read, “When was the last time you heard a unit commander ask for feedback, consider the input, publicly admit he’s wrong, and change his opinion?

Given that I have a vivid example of being humbled while in command, I felt compelled to share my story.


The 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers trying out for the 2nd Battalion, 38th Cavalry Regiment, Long range Surveillance, Airborne unit here at Fort Hood, Texas gut out the last mile of a two and a half mile buddy run, July 27.
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Adam Turner, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs.
This is a guest post by Army Military Intelligence Officer, Captain Joel Martinez. He commanded the 66th Military Intelligence Company of the 3d Cavalry Regiment and now passes on his lessons as an Observer/Coach Trainer at the National Training Center.

Stop Creating Confusion and Start Providing Answers

There’s nothing more frustrating for a subordinate headquarters than to receive an order that lacks context on the situation or fails to provide the resources needed for execution. It seems that some people advance in their careers and forget what it’s like to serve at the lower levels. One example provides a good lesson on how higher leaders and staffs can enable their organizations instead of causing confusion.


CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan (Dec. 3, 2009)- An aerial view of the combined operations/intelligence center, manned by the Northern Army of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Contingency Command Post of United States Army, Pacific and I Corps Forward during the early stages of Exercise Yama Sakura 57. Photo Credit: U.S. Army Sgt. Gerardo DeAvila, 124th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment