10 Things Every Army Leader Should Do Every Drill Weekend

Today, I want to share some simple and practical advice that I think every Army Leader should do every drill weekend.  These are some basic things you can do to improve morale and readiness in your unit.  Doing these things will also show your followers that you are a caring and selfless leader.

# 1 Put Someone in for an Award – Find a Soldier under your authority who went above and beyond during drill weekend and put them in for an award.  There is always someone doing something spectacular if you open your eyes and look for it!  Pick the person who did the best job during drill weekend and put them in for a formal award, such as unit coin, AAM or Certificate of Achievement.  Make sure you do this every drill weekend.

# 2 Write a Personal Note – Get some custom stationary made with your name and rank on it and write AT LEAST one thank you note every drill weekend.  Be specific and tell the person what they did that you appreciate so much.  Mail it to their home address.  This will do wonders for morale!  It’s probably the best tip on this list.  How many written thank you notes have you received during your career?  If you’re like most folks, not many!

# 3 Praise a Soldier for Doing Something Right – When you see someone do something right, praise the Soldier.  By all means, when Soldiers mess up, fix the issue.  HOWEVER, make sure you spend MORE time looking for Soldiers doing something right than you do looking for Soldiers doing something wrong.  When you reward good behavior you will get more of it.

# 4 Make Someone Smile – I’m not talking about flirting here.  I’m talking about being a real human being and putting a smile on your face.  When you come in contact with people, put a smile on your face and tell them it is nice to see them.  It works wonders.  You might just brighten up someone’s day in the process.

# 5 Learn Something New – Do what you can to learn something new every drill weekend.  Participate in scheduled training.  Talk with peers and Soldiers in different sections.  Take on a new task that you haven’t done before or haven’t done in a long time.  Learning these new skills will keep you sharp.

# 6 Inspire a Soldier to Do Something Great – Talk with your Soldiers and inspire someone to go to a military school, to enroll in college classes, to work on the next promotion, or whatever else.  Let people know you believe in them and HELP them move closer to their goals.  Tell the person you believe in them and SHOW them how to move forward.

# 7 Take 15 Minutes and Mentor Someone – Spend 15 minutes with each of your direct reports every drill weekend.  Ask them if they are having trouble with anything.  Teach them something.  Ask them a question and listen.  Do something to mentor each one of your followers every drill weekend.  It’s one of your major responsibilities as a leader.  DO NOT neglect this one.

# 8 Provide Constructive Feedback to Direct Reports – Whether you have one person or ten people working for you, give them feedback EVERY drill weekend.  Let them know what they did right and what they did wrong.  Compare the drill weekend objectives with their actual performance and let them know where they stand with you.  Don’t make people wait to get their evaluation report to know where they stand with you.

# 9 Do Something to Improve the Organization – Find at least one way you can improve the organization.  Clean out an old room, wash some vehicles, review a SOP, brainstorm ideas for a unit function, or whatever else you can think of.  Always leave the unit better than you found it!

# 10 Help a Peer – Find a peer in your unit or another unit and ask them if there is anything you can do to help them out.  Show them you are a team player and go the extra mile to help them succeed. Realize that your peers are part of the same team as you.  They are an ally, not your competition.

Bonus Tip

Help Your Boss – Sit down with your boss for five minutes and ask him or her if there is anything you can take off their plate.  This is in addition to whatever your regular responsibilities are during that drill weekend.   Ask your boss “What can I do to make your life easier?”  Trust me, they will appreciate it.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are 10 simple things that every Army Leader should do every drill weekend.  The best part about doing these things is that they aren’t all that time consuming AND you will really make a difference in your unit.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

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10 thoughts on “10 Things Every Army Leader Should Do Every Drill Weekend”

  1. A great set of tips. Once you become a leader and begin to progress up in the ranks you will become less and less familiar with the day to day operations of the unit. It's incumbent upon you to still spend some face to face time with members doing different jobs in different sections. One, so you stay familiar with the jobs and two, so your troops see you are interested in their work and being a good leader.

    Put people in for awards. I can't stress how much this means. Plus it will help teach you how to write awards packages.

  2. The first time I read this post I was like WOW, that’s a lot for one person to do every drill weekend (in addition to everything else you need to do). But I looked it over again and here are some quick thoughts: It takes less than 30 seconds to smile and ask how someone is doing – 2 seconds to pat someone on the back and say good job – and 5 minutes to write a postcard. If you are leading by example you are already mentoring your people – and by spending time with your superior officer then they should be considered learning opportunities. Taking notes throughout the weekend makes remembering highlights and recommendations a lot easier when you’re sitting at your desk thinking about your reports and who to recommend for an award. All in all this is a great list.

  3. How interesting and wonderful that the majority of tips on your list have to do with helping and improving the morale of others. It is a great leader, in any walk of life, who can understand that building up the people around them and under them is for the greater good of everyone involved. You are all on the same team, after all.

  4. What an excellent list to improve morale Chuck!

    I especially like the part about putting a soldier in for an award every drill weekend. By doing this consistently, soldiers will recognize it and it will create a friendly competition.

    Praise is also very important. In some cases we as humans always look for the wrong instead of the right. It can be amazing what just giving a person a pat on the back will do. When we hear a thank you and a good job, we get fired up to do it even better.

    This was a great post and I hope it inspires many.

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