The Army Profession is defined as: “a unique vocation of experts certified in the ethical design, generation, support, and application of land power, serving under civilian authority and entrusted to defend the Constitution and the rights and interests of the American people.” (ADRP 1) This is essentially the way of life as Soldiers. Army leadership are the caretakers of this culture. Leaders must exemplify and instill the characteristics of the Army Profession in order to build and develop future Army leaders.
Leadership is influencing people by way of giving purpose, motivation, and direction to accomplish the given task and improve the organization.
Influence, purpose, direction, motivation, and improving the organization are known as the fundamentals of leadership. The five characteristics of the Army Profession can provide what these fundamentals can be, and they are: Trust, Honorable Service, Military Expertise, Stewardship, and Esprit de corps.
Trust is the Bedrock of the Army profession. It is reliance on others, being confident in what they are capable of, and it is consistent behavior.
Trust is built over time with mutual respect and shared experiences. Building leadership climate based on mutual trust can promote unit cohesion and expand influence, which is one of the leadership competencies. Leader influence, trust, and good counsel can create good effective followers, and ultimately the next leaders. There are two types of trust: internal and external. External trust is the American people’s reliance on the American soldier to live and serve ethically. Internal trust is the same reliance, but with our superiors, peers, and subordinates.
“Trust, commitment, and competence enable mission command and allow the freedom of action to be operationally agile and adaptive.” (ADP 6-22)
Honorable service means performing our duties and living our lives in a manner worthy of our professional status. It means knowing what is right, and living by the moral code of the Army Ethic. “The evolving set of laws, values, and beliefs, embedded within the Army culture of trust that motivates and guides the conduct of Army professionals bound together in common moral purpose.” (ADRP 1 Army Ethic definition) Leaders should instill this upon their followers to help develop character, competence, and commitment. As Army professionals Soldiers all swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Whether it be the Oath of Office or the Oath of Enlistment, Soldiers must adhere strictly to the law. “Honorable service is support and defense of the Constitution, the American people, and the national interest in a manner consistent with the Army Ethic.” (ADRP 1)
Military expertise is broken up into three tasks. The first is to develop expert knowledge in the fields of military-technical, moral-ethical, political-cultural, and leader-human development. The next task is to apply military expertise. In this task, the professional is tested to make decisions and judgements that have high moral or ethical implications or consequences. The risk of setbacks and mistakes are high, but should be taken as a learning experience. The final task is to certify Army professionals and organizations as experts in their tasks. This structure can be used in all military schools or training cycles. This characteristic is an important one that incorporates all of the leadership fundamentals. It’s here that leaders are forged.
Stewardship of the Army Profession is essentially the care of the profession. All Army leaders should display this characteristic, as it means to be a caretaker to the Army Profession. Ultimately it means to strengthen the Army as a profession, mature it, and take care of its people and resources.
Esprit de corps is actually a traditional expression that means to share a common spirit within a group. French in origin, it translates to ‘group spirit’. In the Army, it means to have a shared set of values, experiences, as well as shared trials and tribulations. It should instill a feeling of pride, comradery, loyalty and fellowship. It is reflected in morale, discipline, and motivation. Its primary purpose is to build cohesion within the organization. Trust can be established a little easier when given a sense of feeling part of something greater, thus improving the organization.
The characteristics of the Army Profession all bleed into one another. The fundamentals of leadership are sustained throughout these characteristics. In some form or another they can all provide a means of influence, motivation, purpose, direction, and ways to improve the organization. Leadership is a primary component in all of them, because without good leadership, the Army Profession couldn’t cultivate new leadership, and the process no longer remains self-sustaining.