By Brig. Gen. James Bonner, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general
While the tools and methods of war continuously change, our country consistently needs people to serve as its sword and shield. Our Army’s strength lies in the ingenuity, resilience and adaptability of its leaders, along with their ability to exercise mission command in the heat of battle. Officers and non-commissioned officers inspire and influence their Soldiers by providing purpose, direction and motivation to accomplish the mission and to improve their organizations. Leadership is a 24/7 obligation that demands regular contact between a supervisor and their subordinates, and leaders are described by attributes and competencies.
Attributes (who leaders are)
With People First in our Army, leaders should strive to achieve the honorable attributes of character, presence and intellect to enable smart, ethical decision-making in morally challenging, changing or ambiguous environments.
Leaders of character guide their formations with the moral and ethical foundations of our Army profession. The Army Values and Soldier’s Creed set a baseline for all Soldiers and Army civilians to help them make the right choice in any situation. Leaders of character also need empathy and humility to better understand the diversity inherent in their formations and make informed decisions to maintain their Soldiers’ morale and welfare.
Where presence identifies if a leader can make a decision, intellect is shown when they consistently make good decisions. The ability to quickly gather, synthesize and analyze information is invaluable. Mental agility and sound judgment are key to success, just as interpersonal tact is critical to building consensus and recognizing individual strengths.
Competencies (what leaders do)
Winning matters. As officers and NCOs, we fulfill responsibilities to enable mission success and preserve the health of the force. The core leader competencies – what leaders must do – are lead others, develop themselves and others and achieve mission success.
Fostering an environment of trust that promotes treating everyone with dignity and respect, recognizing excellence and valuing the importance of teamwork and healthy relationships is vital to the success of our team of teams. Actions that corrode trust – like sexual misconduct, extremism of any type and failing to prevent suicide when we know something is wrong – must be addressed and eliminated.
Developing others means creating a positive climate; welcoming them (sponsorship in and out); effective counseling where conversations are valued and people get to know one another; self-reflection; and prioritizing leader development programs to increase trust, strength and capability.
Army leaders are asked to accomplish the mission each and every day. All of the other leader attributes and competencies feed the final competency (achieves). Achievement means reaching objectives while including peers and sharing credit. We are a team and should be good battle buddies who help others achieve goals.
The Army consists of diverse people and mission sets and faces a variety of challenges. The Army’s leadership attributes and competencies provide a useful, concrete expectation guide for all officers and NCOs.
Fort Leonard Wood plays a critical role in instilling these attributes and competencies in our military and civilian workforce and in our training populations. We, as leaders, have the unique honor to lead by example and to know and leverage the incredible and diverse talent found throughout our organization.
To learn more about Army leadership, read ADP 6-22 “Army Leadership and the Profession” or visit the Center for the Army Profession and Leadership at capl.army.mil.