5 Tips for Exceptional Leadership

Everyone is looking for that holy grail leadership secret that will make them more effective and stand out amongst their peers.  However, leadership is more of an art than a science and must be learned through experience.  But, don’t get discouraged!  Here are my 5 Tips for Exceptional Leadership that if you follow, will ensure that you are prepared for any leadership position and will have you standing out as a leader.

1. Provide Support and Create an Environment of Effectiveness.  Despite what you have learned through your years of military schooling, we know as leaders that our job is to care for our Soldiers.  With that always be ready and willing to go to bat for your Soldiers.  Always try to communicate the needs of your element and Soldiers to your superiors.  Find unique ways to bridge their concerns with your superiors so that they are addressed.

Additionally, help your Soldiers to balance their work, military and family lives!  Lastly, you must always be simultaneously be driving productivity and quality from your Soldiers.  As you take care of them, they will take care of you and work hard for you!

2. Develop your Soldiers and Encourage Innovation.  Always, always, ALWAYS work to develop your Soldiers and other subordinates.  Prepare them to be the next replacement for your Platoon Sergeant, Squad Leader or other position.  This is as simple as spreading around leadership roles and responsibilities throughout your team.  Always strive to encourage leadership skills in your subordinates and reward those who excel.  The goal here is to develop quality Soldiers and subordinates!

3. Always Have Clear Expectations and Set the Standard you Wish to See.  You are an Army Officer so always set high expectation levels for your Soldiers…especially your junior NCOs and subordinates.  Always expect high standards for yourself, your Soldiers and demand quality effort and results.  In order to do this, you must expect and model the same behaviors yourself.  You cannot expect your subordinates to be held to a higher standard than you emulate yourself.  Set the standard and enforce the standard!

4. Deal with Problem Subordinates.  Counsel your problem Soldiers and subordinates, as soon as possible!  Unlike wine, these problem Soldiers typically do not get better with time.  With that being said, get creative with your problem-solving approaches.  Learn what motivates those Soldiers and strive to improve their behavior but always reserve the right to remove someone from a specific duty.  The worst thing you can do is reward their poor performance with a meaningless position or task.

5.  Always Act Rather than React to Problems.  A good leader is always alert and aware of the potential problems that threaten their success.  As soon as these problems are recognized, they deal with them in their earliest stages.  To me, this is the most important quality in a leader!

FINAL THOUGHTS:  These are just the 5 main Leadership “qualities” I have observed in my short time as a leader that I have strived to imitate myself.  I believe that while there are many leadership tips and tricks, these are the 5 fundamental aspects of military leadership that will ensure you are successful.  What are your thoughts?

Leave your comments or questions below. Thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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7 thoughts on “5 Tips for Exceptional Leadership”

  1. Unfortunately, problem soldiers or subordinates will not get better with time. You can’t expect problems to fix themselves. As a matter of fact, they usually just get worse. When you nip problems in the butt you prevent them from snowballing and becoming catastrophic. Do yourself a favor and counsel your problem soldiers ASAP.

    Also, I think it’s good to recall exceptional leaders you’ve known in your own life. Take a moment to think about their qualities and what made them so good.

  2. Katelyn Hensel

    I particularly agree with number three. A lot of times, leaders forget that they are supposed to embody the actions and policies that they wish to see enacted in their subordinates. By creating clear expectations that are known to be important and actually sticking to them yourself you set a good example and your subordinates will know what kinds of behaviors to emulate.

    1. We are all hypocrites to some degree. But as a military leader you have to make sure that you are setting a good example and following all the Army policies, as well as the policies you have created for your unit. If you don’t do that you won’t be very effective as a leader.


  3. #4 is a good tip for many leaders, especially for me. One of my problem soldiers has been in my platoon way before I got to the unit. I have no idea what did my predecessor did or handle the issue, but it carried on to me when I became the platoon leader. The problem grew as the Soldier constantly goes on AWOL, taking up slots in the company and hurting the scorecard (CA Commander Program).

    Although I am not sure what will drive the Soldier especially since I rarely see him, he finally started to show up several months before I left the unit. I guess I have to give the credit to my new Platoon Sergeant who is also my Readiness NCO. It so happened that the Readiness NCO has been in contact and inspired the Soldier to actually show up.

    1. It sounds like the leadership team before you didn’t do their job properly. If the Soldier has been that much of a problem for that long, I’m amazed he’s still in the military. On the other hand, it does sound like your Readiness NCO is doing a good job communicating with the Soldier. Hopefully, things will turn around and the Soldier will get his act together.

  4. Thanks, Chuck. I think that my favorite and most important point to me is always having clear expectations and living the standard you want to see. But, I would agree with you that our jobs as leaders is to deal with problems. As much as we wouldn’t want to agree with that it is true. And because we realize that we must know HOW to fix them.

  5. I really like your point about “acting” not “reacting” to things. I’ve always believed that the most effective leaders did that. The best leaders are calm, cool and collected. They don’t freak out when things happen. Instead, they are logical and deal with the issue at hand as quickly as possible. Let’s face it, as leaders our job is to fix problems!

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