Mission First, People Always

One of the popular buzzwords in the Army is “mission first, people always.”  It definitely sounds like a good leadership philosophy, but what does it really mean?  For the rest of this blog post, I want to take a few moments and educate you about getting your mission accomplished and taking care of your people at the same time.

If you’ve spent even one day in the Army, you understand the importance of being mission focused.  In the Army, the mission means everything.  Whether big or small, tactical or garrison, glamorous or not, our job is to complete our mission on time and to standard, with the personnel and resources we have on hand.

It means getting the mission done, done right, and done on time, no matter what!  No excuses.  It’s not always easy to do, but vitally important.  The Army is a team sport, and many other people (Soldiers and civilians) rely on us to complete our mission, so they can do theirs.  In many cases, other people’s lives depend on your ability to get YOUR mission done.

On the other side of the coin, you have the people side of things.  Your job as the leader is to get the mission done, but to take care of your Soldiers at the same time.  There is a happy balance and fine line between the two.

You need to realize that your people are your greatest asset.  Without your team, you wouldn’t have a job to do. You need your team to justify your job.  They do NOT need you.

As the leader, your job is to take care of your people AND get the job done.  It’s your job to make sure they are trained, motivated, equipped, have the required resources, have a solid game plan, are recognized for their efforts, and that their basic needs are met.

Sometimes, it’s so easy to be obsessed with the mission that it’s easy to forget about your people.  Don’t make that mistake.  I made that mistake a few times during my career and it always backfired on me.  Whenever you become so obsessed with a mission that you neglect your people in the process, bad things will happen!

While it’s important to be mission focused, make sure that you take the time to take care of your people.  In most cases, they will be the ones to do the work to get the mission done anyway.  They will be the ones who make you look good (or bad)!

As a rule of thumb, allocate 50% of your time for mission accomplishment and 50% for taking care of your team members.  If you do that, everything else will fall into place.  Your team will know you care about them and they will go the extra mile to make sure everything gets done like it is supposed to.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think about the concept of “mission first, people always.”  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes

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

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2 thoughts on “Mission First, People Always”

  1. Sometimes soldiers feel like their part of the mission is inconsequential, but this is never the case. Each and every MOS has important contributions for keeping the mission going, and keeping fellow soldiers healthy and safe. Good leaders find a way to make their people realize and appreciate how important they are to the mission.

  2. This sounds simple, but is it? Not if your head is in the wrong place.

    The first thing I need to say is: if you follow this principal to the core, your people will be happy, and the mission will be a huge success.

    Chuck, I apologize, but I have to slightly change one thing you stated here. First I will explain why. I look at this whole thing a lot like a good marriage. When a husband and wife come together as one and work on their responsibilities and through their differences, the marriage survives well. When they try to do things on their own, it usually fails. What I am saying is: the husband has to give 100% and the wife has to give 100%.

    As a leader 100% of your time has to be for the mission, and 100% of your time needs to be for your people. It is a fine balance where you mix the 2. The mission gets completed,and all your people are happy.

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