Page 14 - Jackson Journal
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                   An Open Challenge to Platoon Leaders
 “You get one chance to make a first impression... every ten weeks.” My
Brigade Commander, COL White, said this to me and a group of other LTs during my
first weeks at Fort Jackson. It brought me comfort knowing if I screwed up my first cycle, I would have a chance to try again. I have made plenty of mistakes as a Platoon Leader (PL), but since being here I have gotten sage advice. I call quotes like that of my Brigade Commander “golden nuggets,” and I have collected quite a few along the way.
The most important thing I have learned is
that it is a privilege to lead Soldiers, and being
a Platoon Leader here is whatever you decide
to make it. There are four lines of effort (LOEs) PLs should focus on at basic combat training: (1) your Trainees; (2) your Drill Sergeants; (3) your Peers; and (4) your Command. Along those LOEs
I have frequently asked myself some questions
that serve as azimuth checks. If the answer to the checks is “no,” then there is room for improvement. Ultimately as PLs we are responsible for effectively leading our subordinates, guiding our peers, and answering to our superiors.
LOE 1: Your Trainees
Our mission at basic combat training, in a nut shell, is to transform civilian volunteers
into Soldiers. In order to do that, we need Drill Sergeants who can focus their energy on training. In my opinion, becoming an effective PL for my Trainees consisted of three things: Be. Know. Do.
Be a leader and a mentor. Part of being a leader and a mentor means being present, but beyond
that it means being engaged. “Leadership is a contact sport; it requires daily interaction.” (Funk’s Fundamentals #39) A PL who is present but not engaged might as well not be there at all. If you are in the van while Trainees are getting rained on, you are wrong. Undergoing hardships with your platoon is how bonds are forged and how subordinates learn the extent to which you are invested in them.
Know your Trainees. You should know the names and faces of all your Trainees by graduation. Part of our job is to make recommendations to
the Command Team regarding matters involving Trainees. How can we expect to do that without knowing the person for whom we are making a recommendation? Know your people, but be wary of over familiarity. Emotional intelligence is one of the most important and underrated skills to learn as a leader. The ability to understand and empathize with Trainees is key to knowing them. As a PL you will have Trainees from all walks of life with their own unique problems sets. You must help integrate
1LT Ariana Rocha
  14 Jackson Journal

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