Today, I want to share 5 mistakes that new Army Team Leaders make. No, I’ve never been a Team Leader myself, but I have supervised MANY Team Leaders during my Army career, so I know what they SHOULD be doing. What you will see below are some common mistakes that I noticed during my career.
# 1 Trying to Be Buddy-Buddy with Their Soldier
This is probably hands down the biggest mistake that new Army Team Leaders make. Lots of new E-5/Sergeants were promoted in the same unit that they were a Soldier in. Even though I am against that happening, it is a reality in today’s Army. Lots of new Sergeants still have the junior enlisted mentality, because that’s all they know. To make things worse, the Soldiers they lead are often their friend(s). I’ve found that it’s next to impossible to properly lead and supervise someone who is your buddy. It’s next to impossible to give punishment, take care of disciplinary issues or correct mistakes when you are buddy-buddy with someone. My best advice to the young Team Leader is to be your Soldiers’ leader, not their friend. You can’t be both!
# 2 Being a Worker, Rather than a Supervisor
I’ll be the first to admit that there will be times that you need to roll up your sleeves and do some work WITH your Soldiers. When required, do it! But remember that the Army pays leaders to get things done through others. As a new NCO, you are now a supervisor and a leader. It’s your job to delegate, supervise, and inspect. Make sure that you give clear instructions and then step back out of your Soldiers’ way and let them do the work. You can’t do everything yourself, nor should you!
# 3 Letting Their Rank Go to Their Head
Another common mistake that new NCOs/Team Leaders make is letting their rank go to their head. This might be the first time in your military career that you have had some authority and responsibility. Don’t let it give you an ego or make you think you are better than others. If anything, your new rank means you now have a job to SERVE the people that you lead. Treat people with respect and make the people who work for you show you respect, but don’t become an egotist who thinks they walk on water.
# 4 Not Managing Their Time Wisely
Time is our most precious asset. In the ARNG and USAR, we have to put a month’s worth of work into one weekend. You will quickly discover that you have a lot of UNPAID work outside of drill weekend. In fact, a lot of your work is PREPARING for drill weekend making sure everything is planned and resourced. This might include reading or writing OPORDs, preparing risk assessments, conducting site visits, attending meetings, etc. Make sure that you plan your time wisely during drill weekend and outside of it. Look at the day training schedule and OPORD and get a day planner. Block off time for all the specified, implied and essential tasks that you have to do during drill weekend. If you don’t manage your time it will manage you!
# 5 Being Scared to Correct Their Soldiers When They Are Wrong
When something or someone is wrong, address the issue immediately. That is what you get paid to do. Even if you are a naturally shy or an introverted person, that is your responsibility. NCOs get paid to enforce the Army standards. Use your rank in a good way to address issues and fix them when you discover them. Do not be scared to address someone if they do something wrong. By all means, use some tact when you do it, but make sure that you do it. It’s your job.
In summary, these are five common mistakes that new Army Team Leaders make. Of course, not every leader makes these five mistakes, but many new Army Team Leaders do. My goal is to increase your awareness, so you don’t make these mistakes yourself.
What are your thoughts? What do you think are the biggest or most common mistakes that new Army Team Leaders make? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.