Today, we’re going to talk about the best way to help your Soldiers. This advice is really geared toward anyone who supervises Soldiers, whether it is one Soldier or 20 Soldiers.
You have lots of responsibilities as a leader. Ultimately, your primary job is to nurture and develop the people you lead, and prepare them for positions of increased responsibility. Your job is to bring out the best in your Soldiers.
Quite perhaps the best way to do that (and help your Soldiers) is to help them IDENTIFY their talents and then put them in jobs/situations where they can utilize their talents.
How do you do that?
To start, you have to invest lots of one-on-one time with each person you supervise. You want to know how they think, what they think, what they like, what they dislike, what they are good at, and what they aren’t good at. You want to know how they are wired.
You can do this through observation, counseling, providing feedback, having one-on-one mentoring time, spending time together and asking lots of questions.
Your real goal is to lead them through the self-discovery process. You want them to figure out (on their own) what their best skills are, what their personality is, what their passion is, where they see themselves in the future, what jobs make them the happiest, etc.
As you do this with each person, they will start to grow. They will get better at their job. They will have a better attitude. They will know what they want out of their career. They will know what jobs to pursue.
And that is exactly what you want to happen.
Once you know their strengths and passions, you can help them succeed. You can recommend them for jobs that would be a good fit for them. You can assign additional duties that match up with their skills. You can put them in temporary situations where they can leverage their skills. You can modify their job description as needed, to rearrange their duties to match their skills.
The opportunities really are endless.
The most important thing I ever learned in the Army was what I was good at and how I was wired. I was fortunate to have several good leaders who led me through the self-discovery process of identifying what made me tick.
These leaders had me read books, do online surveys, and they also mentored me through counseling and one-on-one mentoring.
As a result, I learned that I am naturally a doer. I learned that I am an achiever. I learned that I am ultra competitive. And I learned that I was great at maximizing my time and focusing on the most important things.
Learning these things helped me IMMENSELY in my military career. It helped me pick jobs where I could leverage my skills. It helped me focus on what I was good at. And it also helped me outside of the military, when it came to finding a new career.
The bottom line is that the best thing you can do to help your Soldiers is to help them identify their own talents and then to put them in situations where they can excel. If you can do that, you will do a great job developing future leaders.
What do you think about this advice? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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5 thoughts on “The Best Way to Help Your Soldiers”
Self-discovery and self-identification are two really important aspects of personal development, it’s great to see you acknowledge them in this post! Supervisors shouldn’t forcibly push their soldiers into any specific area of expertise; they should facilitate self-discovery by giving their subordinates ample opportunities in different situations to find their strengths and weaknesses. There are few feelings greater than knowing your strengths, knowing how you are wired, and putting that knowledge to use in a meaningful, beneficial way.
I couldn’t agree more!
This post drives home the importance of being a quality supervisor. You are so important in the future of your troops. You have to ensure that the people you supervise are doing what they are supposed to, but also make sure they are learning and progressing.
Don't helicopter and micro-manage, but constant and honest feedback is very important in keeping dialogue open. Your troops should always know where they stand with you.
You mentioned micro-managing and being a helicopter (the first I ever heard that term). This is a huge problem with many of today’s leaders. I really don’t know what has caused it, but I know it happens in the service as well as in the civilian world. The only way a person can truly grow is to allow them the opportunity to fail. If you are standing over the top of them, they will never grow and it will create animosity. Thanks for teaching me a new term Jeff. Helicoptering is a perfect description.