How to Be a Great Soldier: 10 Tips for Success

Today, I want to talk to you about “how to to be a great Soldier.”  Whether you are in the Army, National Guard, or Army Reserves, I believe this information will really help you out.

I personally believe everyone has the responsibility to be a great Soldier.  You signed your name to the dotted line on your contract and never said you were going to do the bare minimum.  I believe everyone should always give 100% and try to be the best that they can be.  The old Army saying “Be all that you can be!” rings true in my book.

One of my biggest pet peeves in the Army was seeing so many people try to get by doing as little as possible.  They wanted to give minimum input, but they expected the Army to do great things for them.  I just don’t get it.

I always found that the “great” Soldiers were typically the ones to get promoted, get the best jobs and get the schools they wanted. And rightfully so as I see it.  After all, you get out what you put in.

My goal for you today is to “check yourself” and ask yourself if you really are giving 100% or if you’re just doing the bare minimum. I hope from this day forward you will go all in and strive to do your best, so you can be a great Soldier.  If you want to do that, here are 10 tips I recommend.

# 1 Check Your Attitude -Whatever attitude you might have right now, check it at the door.  Drop your ego or your entitlement attitude and show up to work with a positive attitude.  It doesn’t matter if your parents didn’t hug you enough as a kid, if you dislike the Army or you aren’t happy with your life.  No one likes a sour puss, a know it all, or someone who hates authority.  Put a smile on your face, watch your body language and work on your people skills a bit.  Having a chip on your Soldier will get you NOWHERE!

# 2 Get to Work Early – This one sounds simple, but most people mess it up.  Show up to work earlier than everyone else.  Show people that you are enthusiastic and EAGER to work.  Be the first one there and last one to leave.

# 3 Do More Than You Are Paid For – I truly believe that if you do more than you are paid for, the Army will recognize it and you will get promoted.  It’s almost inevitable.  Don’t wait to be told what to do.  Show some initiative and find work!  Take work of your boss’s plate and help him/her out.  Stay busy the whole day, every day!

# 4 Put Your Unit First – We all have our own goals.  That’s fine.  But, don’t be so caught up with yourself that you only worry about yourself.  Put your unit first.  Help the unit become a great unit.  Help the unit become successful.  You have an important role in the team, so please don’t forget it.  Regardless of what your job is, remember that the job doesn’t make the person; the person makes the job.

# 5 Support Your Boss – Whether you like your boss or not, your job is to make your boss look good.  The sooner you realize that the better off you will be.  Your job is to support your boss, even if you don’t like them!  Do what they tell you.  Work hard and be loyal to them, even if they are a jerk.  Don’t speak badly about your boss to anyone.  Be a professional and always ask your boss “what can I do to make your life easier?”

# 6 Master Your Craft – Your job is to master your craft.  This means that you are proficient in your individual tasks, your MOS, and your collective tasks.  You are technically and tactically proficient.  You learn everything you can about your MOS, your job, the Warrior Tasks, and your unit’s METL/Collective tasks.

# 7 Help Your Team Members – Your job is to help anyone and everyone that you can.  When you see your buddy struggling with something, help them out.  When you see your boss struggling with something, offer to help.  Be a team player.  Help your boss, peers and subordinates WHENEVER you can.  Be the person that everyone knows will lend a helping hand.

# 8 Don’t Say NO to Your Boss – When your boss asks you to do something don’t say NO.  When he asks you if you have the time to do something for him, tell him yes.  Once again, your job is to support your boss.  The only exception is if it is illegal or unethical.

# 9 Volunteer – In the Army, many folks are taught never to volunteer for anything.  I disagree.  If your boss asks for a volunteer, stick your hand up.  It shows that you are proactive and willing to help and work hard.  This is one of the fastest ways to stand out in the crowd.

# 10 Produce GOOD Results – Whatever you do, do it well.  If your job for the day is to clean the latrines, make sure they are the cleanest they have ever been.  Take pride in your work and always produce GOOD RESULTS.  You want to be known as the person that others can count on when they want something done, done on time, and done right.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  These are 10 tips on how to be a great Soldier.  I don’t expect you to agree with every tip I mentioned. That’s fine.  But if you want to get promoted quickly and accelerate your career, I think it would be wise to follow the advice in this article.

What are your thoughts?  What tips can you share to be a great Soldier?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.  I look forward to hearing from you.

8 thoughts on “How to Be a Great Soldier: 10 Tips for Success”

  1. This is all great advice for both military and for civilian workers.

    One that is of utmost importance is never saying no to your boss. Following orders is the sign of a good soldier. Whether it is cleaning toilets, digging a hole, or anything else, do it as if you are doing it for yourself, or someone you care about deeply. This will show, and rewards will come.

    I am also very strong about being to work early. I find that here in Puerto Rico where I reside now, many people have a “late to everything” attitude. It behooves them when I show up early, but it has changed a few attitudes near me. I will keep this ethic and will not allow the majority to change it. That is what good soldiers do too. Do what is right, not what everyone else is doing.

  2. Theresa Williams

    These are fantastic tips for success in any field of work, but especially in the army or military. I think the hardest is number three: doing more than you are paid for. In the army and military, it can feel like you do this even by doing just barely more than the minimum! And it can be especially hard if the unit has poor command or morale. But this is where your goals come in to play. Do you want to be a great soldier? Do you want to advance in the military? If you’re not a “lifer”, what skills and experiences do you want to gain from your military experience to take into civilian life? When you start asking yourself questions like this, more often than not, you’ll find that you want to be a great soldier and that will, in turn, make it easier to do more you are paid for, or any other tip or task that would normally take a lot out of you.

  3. I notice a trend in this article: do more than you are paid for, put your Unit first, support your boss, help your team members, volunteer. All of these pieces of advice hinge on the idea that your own development and progress is an indication of how helpful you are to those around you. Sometimes, before you help can yourself, you need to consider all the others around you. Don’t be self-centered, the Military doesn’t work that way. Support the people around you and you will be recognized and rewarded.

  4. I'm going to start with something you mention in the beginning of the post. Doing as little as possible: I didn't see this as much on active duty, but in the Reserves I've come across it, I assume because it's a little easier to hide. If you supervise someone like this you have to put the squash on this early.

    I'll point out two things on the list. Get to work early: A simple thing, but you'd be surprised how few people show up early.
    Master your craft: You should learn what your job is as soon as possible. Seek out Subject matter experts and find out what they do and learn to do it as well if not better. Become the expert people are looking for.

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