By its nature, war is a chaotic and unpredictable situation in which nobody knows what to do and where to run or shoot. Therefore, throughout the millennia, a workable organization of army order has played a crucial role in military success. If the soldiers are not organized and do not follow a leader who knows what to do, they do not even have a chance of achieving the campaign’s goals. Moreover, in war, the lack of quality leadership affects whether fighters return home alive or not. A weak, untrained, and poorly educated leader increases the chances of failure for their squad. That is why it is important to pay attention to the training of command personnel following the foundation of leadership in the army. Army leaders must execute complex cooperative tasks in real-time, therefore, they must have such traits as leads and intellect, which help them be flexible and inspiring for their team.
Leadership is the process of socially influencing group members by providing them with purpose, direction, and motivation. Thanks to him, the leader receives support from the people around him to organize them and achieve common goals (Charan, 2021). An army leader is not just a rank or a high position; it is a significant responsibility for subordinates and implementing national interests for the country’s benefit. Even if a person is a born leader, they must master military values at a high level, constantly acquire new knowledge and develop professionally and personally. The role of a leader requires considerable dedication, learning the art of war from a basis, the confidence to lead and inspire, and an impressive amount of internal discipline. Considering the complexity of combat conditions and the high cost of a mistake, one can single out the ability to lead and intelligence as the essential qualities for an army leader.
What Is an Army Leader
The Foundations of Army Leadership is a system of knowledge, skills, and principles that have developed over the centuries following the values and laws of our country. The set requirements for leaders are the basis of this doctrine, and “the Army identifies three categories of core leader competencies: lead, develop, and achieve” (Department of the Army, 2019). Lead means to give direction and purpose to soldiers; develop is to help young soldiers gain competencies; achieve is to attain the successful completion of tasks and missions (Department of the Army, 2019). Commanders must be held to high standards because leaders are only efficient if they can influence their subordinates by example and trust them. The Foundations of Army Leadership requirements ensure the selection of competent and mature soldiers for management positions and provide guidelines for practical training (Meerits & Kivipõld, 2020). Thus, army leaders are competent, dedicated, well-educated, and multi-skilled military members. Any person who goes from soldier to commander must acquire various competencies.
Some soldiers have a natural flair for leadership; others can undergo training for it. For these purposes, military experts follow BE-KNOW-DO, a well-established formula for U.S. Army leadership. BE means having the values and attributes inherent in a leader and manifesting them in service. The commander must have the qualities of a good soldier such as courage, responsibility, discipline, and inspire subordinates with example (Meerits & Kivipõld, 2020). KNOW means to acquire the necessary knowledge about the strategy and tactics of warfare, “technical systems, organizations, management of resources, and the tendencies and needs of people” (Meerits & Kivipõld, 2020, p. 959). In combat situations, it is vital to make decisions quickly, relying on working knowledge proven by time and practice, and not just intuition or experience. DO means establishing a correspondence between words and actions (Meerits & Kivipõld, 2020). If a leader tells a soldier to complete a task they cannot complete, then the authority of such a commander will fall.
The foundations of army leadership philosophy have been profoundly and firmly developed in the American army. They combine an integrated approach to forming personal leadership qualities, professional skills, and deep knowledge of the strategy and tactics of modern warfare (Kim, 2020). Based on these fundamentals, everyone can see how vital intelligence and leadership are given in the army. If an army leader cannot guide people and quickly make accurate and intelligent decisions, such a leader puts his subordinates and the mission in danger (Kim, 2020). The ability to step forward and show the soldiers an example of sticking with army leadership goals and objectives.
Leads as The Best Trait of an Army Leader
“Leads” in an army setting means stepping out at the forefront, complying with the army code of ethics, inspire those around you with your example. Most importantly, this means giving people a reason to act and a clear goal that subordinates want and can strive for, despite the difficulties (Kidd, 2018). Leadership qualities are extremely important for leaders because they create trust between all team members. This forms a cohesive, effective unit on the battlefield from individual soldiers (Kidd, 2018). Any doubts and hesitations during the mission will reduce the chance of success. Such feelings can arise if the officer does not know how to lead and apply various approaches and techniques. In the army, subordination alone is not enough so that people can completely and without a doubt give their destinies into the hands of another person (Kidd, 2018). Leadership must be built not only on law, order, and force but must also be shaped in other ways.
American officers are selected based on compliance with a code of ethics. Values are what shape a person, strengthen the core of their personality, and provide moral and practical guidance. AR 600-20 lays the basis for understanding and executing Army leadership; it includes soldiers’ selection, training, and education based on shared values and ethical standards. First, to become a leader, soldiers must master and feel the fundamental values – “integrity, loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, and personal courage” (Department of the Army, 2019). Second, the future leader must gain competency-based abilities to build trust, inspire, communicate, and lead (Department of the Army, 2019). Ultimately, the role of a leader is to ensure that peers build trust, promote the professional and personal growth of subordinates, and ensure the success of missions.
Intellect as The Best Trait of an Army Leader
The intelligence of a leader is based on their mental abilities, inclinations, and the formation of conceptual thinking. A study by Farina et al. (2019) showed that the level of IQ is one of the most critical and key success factors for military service. It is directly correlated with task success, acquiring new and complex skills, and developing a rapid response to unique situations and challenges (Farina et al., 2019). A leader must have not just a lot of skills or the ability to solve problems but be able to think critically and creatively. The combat situation often creates non-trivial problems that do not have a template solution. Every situation is unique.
Moreover, the leader must be a good tactician and strategist and foresee the military moves and actions of the enemy several steps ahead. Intelligence helps to predict the possible outcomes of decisions made, as they trigger a chain of events of the second and third order (Turner, 2017). To gain mental agility and flexibility of mind, a leader needs to have a high IQ from the start and to study and comprehend combat experience critically – personally and historically (Turner, 2017). Officers learn not to be rigid and blinkered and to show flexibility and maneuverability in constantly changing conditions.
Understanding the role of a leader and effective leadership is essential to building a well-functioning army capable of achieving results and carrying out missions with the least possible casualties. Leads and intellect are essential qualities for army leaders because they provide subordination and help make vital decisions. These qualities cannot be overemphasized, which is why The Foundations of Army Leadership and other official sources place so much emphasis on selecting and training soldiers who can be leaders (Department of the Army, 2019). The education of internal qualities and the training of future army leaders ensure the successful completion of missions and the preservation of the lives of military personnel and civilians in difficult combat conditions.
Department of the Army (2019). ADP 6-22 Army leadership and the profession. Web.
Charan, R. (2021). Six personality traits of a leader. Military.com.
Farina, E. K., Thompson, L. A., Knapik, J. J., Pasiakos, S. M., McClung, J. P., & Lieberman, H. R. (2019). Physical performance, demographic, psychological, and physiological predictors of success in the U.S. Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection course. Physiology & Behavior, p. 210, 112647.
Meerits, A., & Kivipõld, K. (2020). Leadership competencies of first-level military leaders. Leadership & Organization Development Journal 41(8), 953-970.
Turner, L. J. (2017). Developing Army leaders through increased rigor in professional military training and education. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States.