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The Army requires trained and ready units lead by adaptable, effective leaders. Army leaders give the Army an advantage that cannot be interchanged with technology or advanced weaponry. Leaders development involves teachings of specific competencies required in order to be a proficient leader. According to Field Manual 6-22, leaders must exhibit commitment to developing through execution of their professional responsibility to counsel, teach, and mentor soldiers. In other words, leaders lead subordinates, build trust, lead by example, communicate effectively, develop soldiers, create a positive environment, get results, improve performance, give feedback, execute orders and adjust to the Army needs. The above-mentioned competencies are necessary for the Army to possess a credible force.
An Army leader is anyone who influences, guides and inspires people to accomplish the Army goals. He or she motivates subordinates both within and outside of the chain of command to obtain results benefiting the organization as a whole. Leaders must be competent enough in order to produce effective results. However, the competency of getting results requires tangible proof to counter beliefs that only the results matter. “Getting results must simultaneously address improvements to the organization, Soldier and civilian well-being and motivation, adjustments due to situational changes, ethical mission accomplishment, and so on.” (FM 6-22, paragraph 1-3). The principles of mission command and the leadership requirements by the Army are linked. All leaders must understand and practice the principles of mission command. According to Army Field Manual 6-22, paragraph 1-16, “Mission command is the exercise of authority and direction by the commander using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative within the commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders in the conduct of unified land operations.” (ADP 6-22). Leaders’ actions directly influence subordinates, while commanders exercise mission command. In order to effectively prepare leaders for the ever-changing aspect of the army operations, leaders have to develop and create methods to gain comprehension and become proficient in the application of mission command principles. Army leaders exercise mission command by building cohesive teams through mutual trust, creating shared understanding, and providing a clear commander’s intent (effective communication).
Army leaders are entrusted to develop effective teams. A few characteristics of effective teams include: trusting each other and being able to predict each other’s actions; working together to accomplish the mission, executing tasks thoroughly and in a timely manner; meeting, and exceeding the standards; adapting to demanding situations and challenges; learning from experiences. Leaders are expected to develop the confidence, leadership, and the competence required for greater, and more complicated assignments through training, education, and experience obtained throughout a career. They provide soldiers with the ability to think on their feet, use critical thinking to solve problems, apply previously learned tactics to the right scenarios, and demonstrate professionalism and discipline on a daily basis. Noncommissioned officers are responsible for setting and maintaining the Army standards and discipline while conducting missions and making decisions. Leaders are role models to their subordinates. They are the prime motivator for the soldiers. They are who soldiers aspire to become further down their career. Therefore, Leaders must always display the right Army ways.
Army leaders must know their soldiers. Individual relationships with each subordinate are necessary for effective leadership. Soldiers will open themselves up to their leader only if prior trust was established. Effective leadership, which involves creating rapport with soldiers will promote group cohesion and expose any problem within the groups if they arise. An effective leader should be and will be able to identify any variations in their subordinates’ behavior; thus, he or she will act upon them. However, there are boundaries to what leaders should know about the personal lives their subordinates. An effective leader must be aware of sensitive topics that may create strong reactions among the soldiers. Interacting with soldiers on and off-duty allows leaders to create appropriate relationships and build trust necessary to discuss sensitive topics. Finally, an Army leader must be able to assess and provide feedback to his soldiers. Leaders must be coaches and advisors to their soldiers. They should reinforce good behavior and discourage behaviors that stand against the Army standards.
In conclusion, Army leaders are individuals who demonstrate the ability to lead and develop subordinates, as well as effectively completing missions in a timely manner. The Army relies on its noncommissioned officer corps to fulfill the organization’s goals, maintain standards throughout the organization.