Leadership is the highest quality that the military holds dear. Leadership is defined by several dictionaries as the ability to guide and direct. As a future non-commissioned officer (NCO), I feel the most important duty is to do just that — guide and direct soldiers. It is certainly a passion of mine to be able to increase overall readiness of the Army by successfully leading my soldiers.
One part of leadership, guiding soldiers, is a very involved task in itself. It involves educating soldiers with all the resources available. It also calls for constant, thorough, and effective communication with soldiers. But most importantly, it calls for setting the example as a non-commissioned officer and inspiring subordinates to follow that lead. NCOs are to display the characteristics of LDRSHIP; leadership, duty, respect, selfless service, honesty, integrity, and personal courage. Additionally, there are other characteristics an NCO must display to install good leadership qualities in subordinates. NCOs lead others at the ground level, where important day-to-day fundamental Army work is done.
Most live and work directly with Soldier and are the constant, and sometimes the first , example subordinates have to observe leadership in action. NCO responsibilities include identifying, teaching and using each Soldier according to their strengths while simultaneously detecting weaknesses and assisting each Soldier to overcome them. NCOs must make the difficult choices and be the role model for Soldiers. As a leader, an NCO must always do what is right. Currently, while working in the clinic and in other activities in the clinic, I get chances to achieve these goals with soldiers, sailors and civilians alike in the clinic. It is very satisfying to help them grow in all aspects. Missions are best carried out when there is a combined leadership. Combined leadership involves all members of the leadership team in making the decisions for the team. All all facets of the leadership team are important, it is also equally important for the leadership team to have a leader and to defer all final decisions to that person. In the event that the team cannot make a decision, the leader of the leadership team will make the final decision and expect all those to implement and execute even if there is disagreement on the validity of the decision.
Not only is this important to fulfilling mission but it also presents a solidified front to the subordinates and those in an even higher leadership team. Therefore it is important for NCOs to work as a team and execute the commands that are given by superior leaders, even if not in agreeance. Failure to follow the orders of a superior leader, even for an NCO, results in consequences leading up to serious impacts on finance and valuable personal time. NCOs must be able to balance the needs of the mission with the needs of the individual subordinates. A toxic leader, according to ADP 6-22, focuses only self and short-term goals of the mission. In order to avoid being a toxic leader, NCOs must be able to keep the needs of the subordinate in the forefront of their mind while not compromising mission very much. This is accomplished by developing a sincere concern and knowledge of the subordinates while understanding the everchanging goals of the organization.
NCOs are individually responsible for their own personal conduct, in addition for being accountable for the actions of his Soldiers. Leaders’ responsibility to their subordinates include ensuring all under the NCOs’ leadership have a clear understanding of the professional way to conduct oneself as individuals, members of a team and as representatives of the U.S. Army. In the event the conduct of an NCO is not living up to the standard that the US Army set, leaders should be held just as accountable for what they or their subordinates do or fail to do as the subordinates are held. In the event there is dissension in the leadership team, it is the NCOs’ responsibility to ensure those in senior leadership are aware of problems which affect the order and discipline, morale and effectiveness of the unit.
Sometimes senior leadership can act as an arbritrary, facilitating a compromise that all members in the leadership team deem satisfactory. Sometimes the senior leadership can just add necessary depth to the power of the leader. Still in others, senior leadership can ensure discipline to working against the mission, the leadership team, or others. Discipline is not just recommending punishment, but also involves leading and preventing incidents from happening. Methods include assisting in overcoming faults, making them positive members of the team.
The transition to becoming a NCO can be challenging and is a learning process. It is important to remember NCOs are leaders of subordinates and must make every mission theirs. Leaders must take responsibility for their actions and those of their Soldiers. NCOs are also the embodiment of leadership. When a Soldier puts on the stripes, he or she must step up, be the leader and embody professional conduct, discipline, leadership and accountability.