Leadership competencies are groups of related actions that the Army expects leaders to do. The three categories are leads, develops, and achieves. The Army leader serves to lead others; to develop the environment, themselves, others and the profession as a whole; and to achieve organizational goals. Core competencies are those groups of actions universal to leaders, across cohorts and throughout organizations. They provide a clear and consistent way of conveying expectations for Army leaders. Leader competencies can be developed. Leaders acquire competencies at the direct leadership level. As the leader moves to organizational and strategic level positions, the competencies provide the basis for leading through change. Leaders continuously refine and extend the ability to perform these competencies proficiently and learn to apply them to increasingly complex situations.
The category of leads encompasses five competencies. The first two focus on the affiliation of the followers and the common practices for interacting with them. Leads others involves influencing Soldiers and Army Civilians in the leader’s organization. Extends influence beyond the chain of command involves influencing others when the leader does not have designated authority or while the leader’s authority is not recognized by others, such as with unified action partners. Builds trust is an important competency to establish conditions of effective influence and for creating a positive environment. Leader actions and words comprise the competencies of leads by example and communicate. Actions can speak louder than words and excellent leaders use this to serve as a role model to set the standard. Leaders communicate to convey clear understanding of what needs to be done and why.
Leaders are expected to extend influence beyond the chain of command, which usually has limited formal authority. This competency widens the responsibility and sphere of influence for a leader. Such influence requires insightful, and possibly nonstandard, methods to influence others. Its limited authority stems from the audience’s possible lack of the traditions, customs, and regulations of the Army and military forces. When extending influence, Army leaders have to assess who they need to influence and determine how best to establish their authority and execute leadership functions. Often they have little time to assess the situation beforehand and need to adapt as the interaction evolves. Extending influence is a competency that includes negotiation, consensus building and conflict resolution. Extending influence largely depends on the trust established with unified action partners and often applies to stability and defense support of civil authorities operations.
Leaders operate to improve or sustain high performance in their organization. They do so by focusing on the four develops competencies. Creates a positive environment inspires an organization’s climate and culture. Prepares self encourages improvement in leading and other areas of leader responsibility. Leaders develop others to assume greater responsibility or achieve higher expertise. A leader stewards the profession to maintain professional standards and effective capabilities for the future and also they are responsible for development. They must ensure that they themselves are developing as well as developing subordinates, and sustaining a positive climate while improving the organization. Leaders encourage development and set conditions while performing missions they do this by having subordinates reflect on what happened during the event, by assessing whether units performed at or well above standard and why, in addition to having a positive mindset of improvement and learning.
Every experience is developmental. There are choices to make about developing others. Leaders choose when and how to coach, counsel and mentor others. Leaders often have the freedom to place people in the best situation to maximize their talent. Then the leader provides resources the subordinate needs to succeed, makes expectations clear, and provides positive, meaningful feedback. While leaders need to develop others, they have to set a positive climate in which individuals and the unit can improve and operate. As part of their developmental responsibilities, leaders must prepare themselves and act to promote long-term stewardship of the Army.
Gets results is the single achieve competency. It relates to actions to accomplish tasks and missions on time and to standard. It is a process of providing value toward mission accomplishment. Getting results is the goal of leadership. However, leaders must remain mindful that leading people and creating positive conditions enable them to operate as successful leaders. Getting results requires the right level of delegation, empowerment and trust balanced against the mission. Adaptability to conditions and adjustments based on adversarial actions are ever important elements of success.
Leadership and increased proficiency in leadership can be developed. Fundamentally, leadership develops when the individual desires to improve and invests effort, when his or her superior supports development, and when the organizational climate values learning. Learning to be a leader requires knowledge of leadership, experience using this knowledge and feedback.
Formal systems such as performance evaluation reports, academic evaluation reports, and 360 degree assessments offer opportunities to learn but the individual must embrace the opportunity and internalize the information. The fastest learning occurs when there are challenging and interesting opportunities to practice leadership with meaningful and honest feedback and multiple practice opportunities. These elements contribute to self-learning, developing others and setting a climate conducive to learning.
Leader development involves recruiting, accessing, developing, assigning, promoting, broadening, and retaining the best leaders, while challenging them over time with greater responsibility, authority and accountability. Military leadership is unique because the armed forces grow their own leaders from the lowest to highest levels. Army leaders assume progressively broader responsibilities across direct, organizational and strategic levels of leadership. The Army entrusts leaders to develop professionally and be ready to accept greater responsibility when called upon.
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