Today, I want to give you some tips on building your own military leader’s library. A leader’s library is nothing more than a collection of books, videos, manuals, training products and resources to assist with your personal and professional development.
As a Soldier, you have the responsibility to work on your own personal development. You should strive to get better every single day in order to develop your potential, so you can become the leader that you need to be. Yes, the Army will give you some training to help you with this, but ultimately it’s your responsibility.
Reading is quite perhaps the best, easiest and fastest way to improve your skills. I credit most of my success in the military, and in life, to my love of reading.
Now, I should tell you right upfront that initially I hated to read. Up until the age of about 24 or 25 you couldn’t pay me to read. Thankfully, I found some great mentors early in my officer career who encouraged me to get my head out of my butt and create my own reading program.
Books can teach you so many valuable skills. You can study someone’s entire life in four to eight hours (how long it takes to read the book) and learn from their successes and mistakes. There are books on just about any topic you can imagine. If you want to learn a new skill, or sharpen one of your skills, the fastest and easiest way to do it is to read a book.
Whether you are a young Soldier, a brand new NCO or commissioned officer you should have your own leader’s library. You should build up a collection of books, manuals, regulations, training products, videos, and resources that you can study and refer to.
Everyone’s leader’s library will be different. We all have different ranks, specialties, desires and skills. Rather than tell you specificially what books to add to your leader’s library, I want to give you some suggestions, so you can decide what is best for you.
# 1 Regulations about Your MOS or Specialty – You should make a list of manuals and regulations that pertain to your MOS or branch or specialty. These will help you develop the tactical and technical expertise you need to succeed in your career.
# 2 Regulations about Your Duty Position – Try to find any resources you can about your current job, and jobs that you want to have in the future. These resources will give you insights on what you need to do to be successful.
# 3 Regulations about Your Type of Unit – Print out the regulations and field manuals that pertain to the type of unit that you serve in. For instance, if you are serving in an infantry battalion, find every resource you can about infantry battalions and infantry units.
# 4 Regulations about Tactics – Print off regulations such as FM 7-8 and any other regulations or manuals that cover tactics for your specialty or type of unit. You should also print off regulations about basic Soldiering skills and tasks.
# 5 Personal Development Books – Start building a collection of books that will help you with your personal development. Identify areas where you need improvement and seek out books on those topics. This list will be different for everyone.
# 6 Auto-biographies of People You Admire – One of my best tips is to get copies of auto-biographies of people that you respect and admire. For example, if you want to be a general one day, read a few auto-biographies of famous generals.
# 7 Books About Tactics and Famous Battles – Do what you can to study famous battles and campaigns. This will give you some great insights for future reference. We can definitely learn from the past.
# 8 Keep Notes and a Journal – When you read books, take notes. Keep a journal throughout your career. This will be a very valuable resource in your leader’s library.
# 9 Videos – Keep copies of videos that inspire you or serve as a good reference.
I think this is a good starting point to build up your military leader’s library. My other advice to you is to read at least one book a week, every week. Take notes, share what you learn, and try to get a little bit better every single day.
The bottom line is that all military leaders have the responsibility to work on their personal development and find ways to improve. Building your own leader’s library is a good starting point to do that. It will be time and money well spent.
What are your thoughts? What type of resources do you have in your leader‘s library? Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts and expertise. I look forward to hearing from you.