Effective leadership is important for any organization because it influences the process of achieving organizational goals. In the Army, leadership plays an even more important role since the accomplishment of the Army’s missions affects national security and the safety of many people, including both soldiers and civilians. According to the US Department of the Army, “leadership is the activity of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization” (1-13). The foundations of Army leadership are described in the Army doctrine ADP 6-22, which discusses what qualities an Army leader should possess and what actions the leader is expected to undertake. This paper aims to review the foundation of Army leadership, as reported in the doctrine, which includes leaders’ attributes and competencies required to effectively fulfill the leader’s roles.
As was mentioned, the role of leaders is to give purpose to the subordinates, direct them, and motivate them to fulfill organizational goals. Providing subordinates with purpose is necessary because it ensures that they will be committed to the accomplishment of the mission and will continue working on a difficult task even when the leader is not present (The US Department of the Army 1-13). Giving clear directions is also important, but leaders should make sure not to direct each step of their subordinates. Army leaders should make the ultimate goal clear and encourage subordinates to take the initiative to achieve the goal (The US Department of the Army 1-13). Motivation is another essential function expected of Army leaders. Setting a personal example and taking risks and challenges together with subordinates is the best motivational tool, while threats of punishment often lead to low morale (The US Department of the Army 1-14). Thus, leaders play a significant role in accomplishing the US Army’s missions.
The foundation of Army leadership includes attributes and competencies that a person should possess to fulfill the leadership role effectively. According to the US Department of the Army, the difference between competencies and attributes is that competencies are acquired through training, while attributes are personal qualities that develop through experience (1-15). The core attributes, which a leader should possess, include character, intellect, and presence (The US Department of the Army 1-15). Character consists of “army values, empathy, warrior ethos, and service ethos, discipline, humility” (The US Department of the Army 2-1). By establishing a presence, Army leaders show their subordinates their values and confidence, as well as provide an example of how subordinates are expected to behave. Finally, intellect means not only expertise but also flexible and rational thinking, problem-solving skills, and interpersonal tact (The US Department of the Army 4-1). As Ferrell stated, agile and flexible thinking helps today’s Army leaders make effective decisions regarding scarce resources and adapt to the increasing use of technology in the military (21). Hence, the Army expects all the reviewed attributes to be present in the leader’s character.
Competencies refer to skills that leaders can develop through training, and certain competencies are included in the foundation of Army leadership. The US Department of the Army describes the competencies required from Army leaders as “leads, develops, achieves” (The US Department of the Army, 1-16). An Army leader leads others by using appropriate methods of motivation, enforcing standards, balancing mission requirements with subordinates’ well-being, building trust, setting a personal example, and communicating with others (The US Department of the Army 5-8). Army leaders are also involved in continuous self-development and develop others by mentoring, coaching, and counseling (The US Department of the Army 6-11). They are also responsible for advocating for the military profession and supporting opportunities for their subordinates’ career development. As for the third core competency, Army leaders must achieve results by fulfilling missions “on time and to standard” (The US Department of the Army 7-1). This is done through assigning responsibilities, setting priorities, removing work barriers, and recognizing performance. Army leaders’ competencies are multiple, which requires leaders to constantly develop themselves and their peers and subordinates.
What is also important to mention is that Army leaders should also be good followers. The reason for it is that, in the Army, “every Army leader is a subordinate to someone, so all leaders are also followers” (The US Department of the Army 1-18). To be good followers, Army leaders should be well-aware of their responsibilities and have all the necessary competencies. A competent follower needs to be controlled less, thus allowing leaders to concentrate on more important tasks. Furthermore, being a good follower is especially significant in critical situations, such as in combat, when one should obey the orders coming from the superiors and use one’s best judgment to achieve the set goal.
In conclusion, the Army is an organization that needs effective leaders more than any other entity. The foundation of Army leadership includes both personal qualities and professional competencies that help a leader to inspire subordinates and motivate them to accomplish the missions of the Army. Army leaders should provide personal examples to their subordinates and be themselves good followers to ensure the effectiveness of the Army’s chain of command.
Ferrell, Robert S. “What Makes a Good Leader?” Army Sustainment, 2016, pp. 18-21, Web.
The US Department of the Army. ADP 6-22 Army Leadership and the Profession. 2019, Web.