As Army leaders we have a responsibility to lead, develop and help those that we lead. As I see it, there are five major lessons we should teach our followers (at a minimum). Here they are:
1. How to Shoot, Move and Communicate
Everyone in the Army, from the top brass to the lowest ranking Private need to know how to shoot, move, and communicate. Whether you are a Battalion Commander or Squad Leader, make sure the people you lead are proficient in the warrior tasks and individual tasks such as weapons qualification, first aid, and radio communication. Simply put, everyone needs to know how to stay alive on the battlefield. As you progress through the ranks and get more desk time than Soldier time, it’s very easy to forget some of these skills. These are definitely perishable skills.
2. How to Do Your Job
As a leader, you should train your subordinates how to do your job. You can do this by leading by example, by delegating some of your work, by giving them a chance to job shadow you whenever possible and by providing constant feedback. We are all expendable. On the battlefield anything can happen. So make sure your people know how to do your job and each other’s job. That way when the shit hits the fan they will be prepared.
3. How to Set Goals & Manage Their Own Career
You need to teach your people how to set career and personal goals. This is a very important skill to develop if you want to achieve big things in your Army career. Teach your folks how to determine what they want and more importantly, how to create an action plan to help them reach their goals. There are plenty of books on the subject, so I won’t bore you with the details. Just make sure you do it.
4. The Importance of High Standards and Continuous Improvement
No one is perfect. That being said, everyone is capable of setting very high standards for themselves and their followers. Too many people in the Army are like typical government bureaucrats. They are average at best. They shoot for the minimum. Don’t be like that. Teach your people to have pride in what they do and raise the bar. Whether you are a General or Private, your job is important. You are part of a team. Without you doing your job well, the team will fail. Never forget that. So take pride in what you do and set HIGH standards. Teach your people to do the same thing for themselves. And teach them the importance of getting a little bit better each day.
5. How to Mentor and Develop Others
Another responsibility of Army leaders is to mentor and develop their followers. You need to do this yourself and you need to teach your subordinates about counseling and leader development. Educate them about helping people identify their own strengths, weaknesses and skills. Teach them to be servant leaders who place the needs of their followers right up there with mission accomplishment. Teach them about career counseling, professional development counseling, etc. The best way to do that is to lead by example.
As I see it, these are the top 5 things every Army leader should teach their subordinates. Of course, there are many other things too. But if you can master these five things you will probably be in the top 10% of all Army leaders.
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