Think about the unit you’re in or the team you’re on. Do you have the freedom to contribute your own ideas? Does the boss ask for your input in solving problems or does he simply tell you what to do? It’s safe to say that you want the freedom to add value. You want to feel like your contribution actually matters. You want a hand in solving the problem, not just in executing a solution. Such environments encourage creative thought and ultimately lead to better performance.
Why, then, do leaders flip so quickly to “transmit guidance” mode when the team faces a problem? Why do leaders start issuing solutions instead of asking for them? Why do leaders see challenges as opportunities to showcase their own intellect instead of develop the intellect of those they lead?
U.S. Marine Cpls. Armondo Cortez, left, and Estevan D. Hernandeza discuss their plan for dismantling the command operation center during the retrograde of Patrol Base Boldak in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, Aug. 15, 2014. Cortez, a data network specialist, and Hernandez, a telephone switchboard and personal computer intermediate repairer, are assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. Link
This Memorial Day, I was thinking about combat. Actually, I started thinking about how to train Soldiers to win in combat. But that naturally drove me to deconstruct the problem and ask, “What is the nature of the combat experience? How does it challenge the individual? What does it demand of everyone who engages in it?
I settled on three traits. These are not sufficient to win in combat, but they are necessary.
A U.S. Army paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team fires his M4 carbine at insurgents during a firefight June 30, 2012, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The vehicle he is using for cover is a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. (U.S. Army photo
by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod, Task Force 1-82 PAO)
This post is not just for cadets. Newly commissioned Infantry Second Lieutenant Dylan DiIulio presents a sizable list of tips on fieldcraft, teamwork, and leadership that apply to any training event. New Soldiers should read this. Sergeants taking over a fire team should read it. Hikers and backpackers can draw some insight from his advice. Take a look and share it widely, especially with those heading to Advanced Camp this summer.
A recent email from a reader asked simply if there is a Military Leader reading list. As a professional who credits books with providing a sizable portion of my development, I was embarrassed to respond in the negative. Though I often write about what I learn from books (here, here, and here), I have neglected to compile a list. This post is a partial remedy.
This is not a cursory list. These are the books that have shaped me and imprinted lessons that directly reflect in my daily leadership life. These are the books that I reference and quote from, and I think you might benefit from reading. Be sure to scroll down, there’s a bonus list at the end. Enjoy!
Let’s face it, even the most humble and open-minded person hates to be wrong or seem ignorant in public. While it will always be fun for leaders to scream “SIGO!” when anything with electrons running through it fails, a deeper understanding of the S6 shop’s capabilities will improve decision-making and calm tempers. Below are five tips to help frame an improved perspective of the S6 shop.
U.S. Army 2nd Lt. James Cleary, with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, talks on the radio during a combined cordon and search with the Iraqi police in the West Rashid district of Baghdad, Iraq, June 26, 2007. (U.S. Army photo
by Sgt. Tierney Nowland)
I’ve got an exciting announcement… The Military Leader is partnering with The Field Grade Leader!
You may have seen The Field Grade Leader on Facebook and Twitter. If so, you already know that Josh Powers has fantastic advice for making the transition from individual to organizational leadership. He and I have teamed up to create The Field Grade Leader blog as part of The Military Leader.
I’m excited because this move adds a niche voice to The Military Leader and provides fresh perspectives for leaders looking to grow as organizational influencers. Junior officers preparing for the field grade years?…it’s for you. Civilian managers increasing their responsibility?…it’s for you. New leaders with hopes of making more impact?…it’s for you.
Josh will host video discussions with experienced leaders, post valuable tools and templates, and offer his own thoughts stemming from his successful Army experiences. I know you’ll really benefit from what The Field Grade Leader has to offer.
If you like what Josh is doing there, be sure to subscribe by email and share it with your friends, peers, and social media network. We want The Field Grade Leader to be an immensely valuable resource for you and we’d appreciate spreading the word.
Now go check out the site at www.fieldgradeleader.themilitaryleader.com, or just click this big red button:
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I’ve had a lot of conversations lately about organizational culture and vision. [To me, vision is where the team is going and culture is the behavior, beliefs, and norms that get it there.] One point of dispute deals with when the new leader of an organization (say, an incoming commander) should begin shaping the culture and setting the vision.
Some feel that culture-setting is a ‘Day 1 activity’ that centers on the leader’s influence…“I’m the new leader and here’s how I want things to run.” Others feel it is haphazard and potentially disastrous to join a team and immediately set it off on a new course…“I need to understand the culture before I know what to change.”
Regardless of your personal preference, it’s tough to argue that leaders should ignore culture and vision. Even a leader who immediately drives vision and culture will have to assess whether or not the team is meeting the intent. Identifying and understanding culture, for all leaders, is a critical task.
Soldiers participate in a sunrise run during annual training at Fort Stewart, Ga., Jan. 11, 2017. The soldiers are assigned to the Georgia National Guard’s 78th Troop Command, 110th Combat Services Support Battalion. Army National Guard photo
by Capt. William Carraway
As the saying goes, when everything is a priority, nothing is. In a system that heaps requirements and tasks on subordinate units, leaders routinely struggle to reach 100% compliance. Though some try, leaders cannot do it all themselves. They must prioritize tasks and delegate work to subordinates. But what tasks are appropriate to delegate? Which ball drops when there are conflicting priorities? It would be helpful to have a framework to sort it all out.
The Soldiers are assigned to the Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion who completed training for Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification. U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command partnered to provide the training to the Soldiers over several weeks in March and April 2012. Photo
by Bob Harrison, FORSCOM Public Affairs.