Page 10 - Jackson Journal
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So what are assessments “screening” for as it applies to battalion and brigade command and in the future battalion Command Sergeants Major positions? As highlighted earlier, “toxicity”
or “counterproductive” behaviors, fitness, and cognitive abilities are the simple answers. One could apply this to any level of command or
other vital roles across our Army. To be clear,
the goal is not to screen these things only at
the command echelons but at all service levels. Command is a great start point due to the sheer impact and influence that commanders have across the formations that make up our Army. One counterproductive leader in a battalion, brigade, or higher echelon may affect aspects of our Army literally for generations—individual & unit readiness, retention, and simultaneous leader development, as examples. Similar damage could and does occur at the lower echelons, as well.
So, where is the “what”? Multiple things could
be highlighted and embedded into the Army assessments. However, I will focus on what, in my mind, I view as the “Big 3” of leader development assessments; humility, toxicity, and self-awareness.
Humility, as defined by ADP 6-22 (p.2-11), “in its simplest form is the absence of arrogance.” It goes on to state that “it [humility] is a sign of a leader being unselfish, working toward something more important than themselves.” The last and final point on humility, as outlined in our doctrine, is that “it is difficult to judge our own humility.” Self- assessment of humility is an area where individuals often over or underrate themselves and how others perceive them in terms of humility, putting them out of synch with how they see themselves and how others see them. You see, we all suffer from this thing termed “illusory superiority,” which is defined as “a condition of cognitive bias wherein a person overestimates their own qualities and abilities, concerning the same qualities and abilities of other
people.” Simply stated, we all run the risk of seeing ourselves as being better than we are. In some leader development sessions, I’ve used a technique to prove this theory by asking a simple question
to the audience: “If you had to rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the worst) in relation to your peers, how would you rate yourself?” adding a caveat that, “you cannot use #3 as a rating.” The #3 is omitted because most people will typically use the #3 as a “middle ground” and easy way out of assessing themselves honestly based on how they feel about themselves. After surveying the room, guess what the most common number is when the responses come? Hopefully, you guessed #1. Most in the room will rate themselves as #1 when compared to their peers. This helps confirm the point from our doctrine that our humility is difficult to self-assess.
For the first time in our leadership doctrine history, the Army has specifically highlighted and added a doctrinal perspective on humility. Given the importance of humility for any person (leader or not), I think that it has come to our attention that within our ranks, we may suffer more from the cognitive bias of illusory superiority than we previously thought or knew. The alternative is inflation of “hubris” within our ranks. According to any definition, or in this case definition, hubris is defined as “the characteristic of excessive confidence or arrogance, which leads a person to believe that he or she may do no wrong. The overwhelming pride caused by hubris is often considered a flaw in character.”
This is precisely the mindset that we do not want in our ranks for our leaders, but it happens, and it exists within our ranks at multiple echelons. Assessments in any form, counseling, coaching, feedback conversations, etc., help increase humility and combat hubris within our ranks.
I will briefly cover “toxicity,” or as doctrinally termed “counterproductive,” which is defined in ADP 6-22 as “a demonstration of leader behaviors that violate one or more of the Army’s core leader competencies or Army Values, preventing a climate conducive to mission accomplishment.”
Counterproductive leadership exists on a spectrum and can take various forms other than
a demeaning, yelling, or cursing leader. Five behaviors are now doctrinally defined in ADP 6-22 that assessments such as BCAP and CCAP are screening potential commanders for:
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