How to Create a Successful Army Unit: 10 Questions Leaders Can Ask Themselves

In this post, I want to talk about how to create a successful Army unit.  I will share 10 questions every Army leader should ask themselves, if they want to take their unit to the next level.  These are questions that will help leaders ensure they are creating a positive work environment for their subordinates: an environment where they can learn, grow, and succeed.

These questions are designed to help every leader IMPROVE their unit and create a successful organization. I truly believe these questions can apply to the newest Corporal or the most senior General Officer.  Let’s get started.

# 1 Do my subordinates know what is expected of them?  In other words, have ALL leaders clearly shared their expectations with their direct reports?  Have counselings been done formally, in writing?  Are the Unit Leader’s expectations posted on the bulletin board and shared with every Soldier?

# 2 Do my subordinates have the resources and equipment they need to get their job done with ease?  Does the unit have all of the equipment authorized on the manning documents?  If not, has it been requested?  Is the equipment serviceable and working properly?  Do the Soldiers have the supplies they need on hand to make work easier for them?

# 3 Do I praise my subordinates at least once a week? Do you let your Soldiers know where they stand with you at all times, or do they have to try and read your mind to figure it out?  Do you provide constant feedback or do you only talk to your Soldiers when they mess up?

# 4 Do my subordinates have someone that sits down and does career planning and career mapping with them? Do Soldiers know what they need to do to get promoted?  Are they educated on the promotion process?  Do leaders sit down with Soldiers and do Career Counseling?  Do leaders help their Soldiers set goals and develop and action plan to attain it?

# 5 Are my subordinates informed about new opportunities inside and outside of the unit? Do the leaders within the unit post job openings?  Are Soldiers notified about open positions both inside and outside of the unit that they are eligible for?

# 6 Do my subordinates know the vision and mission of their organization?  Has the Unit Commander posted their vision for the organization?  Do Soldiers know the mission of the organization and have a clear understanding of what the leader sees the organization becoming in the months and years to come?

# 7 Are my subordinates ever asked for their input on things?  Do unit leaders just bark orders all the time or do they ever ask for feedback?  Are Soldiers encouraged to share ideas and offer practical solutions on ways to fix things?

# 8 Do my subordinates feel appreciated for their efforts? Do leaders make their subordinates feel appreciated by doing the extra things, like providing feedback, submitting Soldiers for awards, doing team building events, and praising Soldiers?

# 9 Do my subordinates know how their efforts fall  into the bigger picture of things?  Are leaders explaining how each Soldier’s job fits into the bigger picture and why the organization needs the Soldier to do their job well?

#10 Do my subordinates think of this as a winning organization?  If so, why?  If no, why not? What do Soldiers think about the unit?  What do they like and dislike?  Why?

Final Thoughts

Answering these 10 questions can help any leader improve their Army organization, and create a positive environment for Soldiers to learn, develop and excel.  No, it won’t be easy.  But, if you take some time to answer each question honestly and objectively, there is no doubt in my mind you can build a successful team of warriors.

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

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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8 thoughts on “How to Create a Successful Army Unit: 10 Questions Leaders Can Ask Themselves”

  1. I believe all military leaders should copy this and put it somewhere where they can see it on a daily basis. I would just like to build on a few of these.

    #2- Having the resources and tools. This is a problem I see often. In many cases a person is asked to dig a hole with a fork. As leader, when you request a job to be done, making sure the person has all the proper tools is imperative.

    #3- Praise. Just a simple good job or way to go, will build a huge amount of respect. That person will usually go the extra mile just knowing there is praise at the other end.

    #7- Input. Just asking what a person thinks will give them a sense of belonging. Even if you disagree with their thoughts, just asking will show that you care what they think.

  2. Theresa Williams

    These are great questions for leaders to ask themselves. I love how specific they are to creating a successful army unit but yet can still be applied to other jobs and situations. Praising subordinates once a week is awesome. Find something to praise each person for, anything really. Even if it comes down to, “You combed your hair really nicely this week. Keep it up,” it’s still valuable to hear. One I hadn’t thought of was making sure people know about new opportunities. So many soldiers have no idea where to turn to hear about opportunities or miss them because word was not spread widely and effectively enough.

  3. One of the best things a leader can do is sit down at the end of every day and self reflect. The question is, what do you reflect on? One of the best methods of self reflection is to ask questions. This is more effective than simply making comments about yourself, because comments don’t generally incite change. For example, telling yourself, “My subordinates don’t know what’s expected of them” does not encourage change. If you change it into a question: “Why don’t my subordinates know what’s expected of them?” it becomes an impetus for change. Pose questions to yourself regarding your own performance and the performance of those under your lead, and ask yourself WHY it is the way it is and HOW it can be changed. The questions in this post are ones that any leader in any profession should ask themselves.

  4. Two very key elements are included in this post. Do my subordinates know what is expected of them? So many problems come from this question. How can you hope to get quality work from your guys if they don't know what to do or how to do it.

    Also, asking for input and praising: Your people want to feel like they matter and aren't a cog in a machine. Taking suggestions or brainstorming with your guys can really built cohesion in a group. Never underestimate the power of simply telling someone "good job."

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