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 As Drill Sergeants (DS), we are expected to be the epitome of discipline; for good, bad, or indifference, we are held to a higher standard than our counterparts, we know this
was coming into the position, and we fully accept that responsibility and do our best to uphold this distinction. However, like most people, we get
too comfortable, become complacent, and our standards drop. During a briefing from the Post Command Sergeant Major (PCSM), I became complacent, a little too relaxed, and I was in the front row to make matters worse. Although I was wide-awake and paying full attention, my body language portrayed a different story; to an onlooker, it appeared that I didn’t care about the topic being discussed and that I wasn’t showing proper respect to the person briefing. It portrayed that I wasn’t a professional and that as a DS, I lacked the discipline needed to train America’s sons and daughters...
and the PCSM took notice. Afterward, the PCSM, to correct my lack of discipline, counseled me
on my discrepancy. After spending much time reflecting on my actions and looking back on my entire 12-year military career, I have concluded that body language is 50 percent of being a leader.
Everywhere you go in the military, you are evaluated and noticed by senior leaders and subordinates alike based on your body posture, tone of voice, confidence, eye contact, and physical gestures. Body language can influence everyday life in the military, so much so that everyone must
stand a certain way when addressing someone senior. For example, when junior enlisted Soldiers address Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs), they must stand at the position of parade rest. When addressing Officers, they must stand at the position of attention. Only the most qualified NCOs are chosen to become Drill Sergeants, and for DSs in the Initial Entry Training (IET) environment, your impact is magnified a hundred times. Most Soldiers in the Army, from private (PVT) to CSM, can tell you the names of their Drill Sergeants due to the significant impact that they had on their lives. As DSs, we are advised not to stand with their arms crossed over their chest because that makes the DS look intimidating and not approachable.
Being an NCO involves making sound decisions, articulating the Commander’s intent
in a clear vision, and providing subordinates the knowledge and tools necessary to achieve the given task. Having sound leadership means not just being able to speak well and give guidance clearly, but it also means being able to project confidence and competence using your body. For example, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Infamy Speech” was delivered one day after the Empire of Japan’s attack on the United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. If you watch old recordings from that speech, you can tell that he exuded leadership based on his body language. Although confined to a wheelchair, he was able to sit up straight, lean slightly forward, and deliver
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