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                  First, self-assess to formulate an accurate self- perception. Second, seek feedback from others. Finally, continually learn, evaluate, and change as appropriate.
It’s essential to discover where you stand... to establish your baseline. How well do you know... you? There are several methods for doing what the Army describes in ADP 6-22 as “formulating and accurate self-perception.” Many psychometric tests are available to help you establish that baseline. Myers Brigg and Predictive Index are tools espoused by leaders in the business community. Johari Window, Leadership Style, Thomas-Kilman Conflict Resolution, and Leadership Values are examples of tools that can be used to become knowledgeable of you the leader is received by colleagues and discussed with US Army battalion brigade-level pre-command course attendees.
The second part of this approach is to seek feedback from those around you. The Army provides us tools to pursue this feedback, and
the insight gleaned from these tools can be enlightening. Depending on the leader’s position, command climate surveys; 360-degree assessments associated with pre-command courses or the
new Battalion Commander Assessment Program (BCAP) and Colonels Command Assessment Program (CCAP); and even the Army Safety Center’s Army Readiness Assessment Program (ARAP) survey. Some of the best and most honest feedback a leader receives will come from these assessments and surveys. To be ultimately valuable, though, the leader must attempt to gain feedback from those they have had great relationships
with and those they may have had a challenging relationship with. Having an open mind and looking at the feedback as an opportunity to grow is essential.
Outside of these more formal feedback tools, it is also important to seek feedback in other ways. Develop relationships with those you can trust and plainly ask them for feedback. Seek out a coach who has walked along your same path. Be prepared, though, for what they may say... sometimes, the truth can hurt. This immediate feedback may easily prove the most valuable.
Finally, it is imperative for this three-pronged approach that the self-aware leader always is looking to learn, reevaluate, and grow. Techniques
for this are to read about this topic and seek further knowledge through self-development. Keep a journal about your emotions and what/why/ how you felt at certain times. Be mindful of what is going on in your life and how you relate to those around you...take time to think. Sometimes it’s helpful to go for a long run and work out what you are thinking and feeling.
In the end, this approach will help you achieve what the Army is looking for in its self-aware leaders, who employ self-understanding and recognize the effect on others. In the end, effective, self-aware Army leaders can evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses; learn from mistakes and experience to make corrections; seek feedback and areas for development; can determine individual goals and make progress toward them; develop capabilities where possible but accept personal limitations; seek opportunities to use their abilities appropriately, and understand self-motivation under various conditions. (ADP 6-22)
It’s never too early in an Army career to start down the path of self-awareness, or too late to jump back on the path. At all points in an Army leader’s career, it is extremely valuable to be self-aware;
to understand one’s strengths and weaknesses; to understand how others perceive his/her actions and it affects their organization. That team...made up of the Army’s number one priority...its people want to be led by competent and caring leaders who understand and value each of the team’s members. As a leader rises through the ranks and gains more power and influence,
they must continue to reassess their strengths and weaknesses. They must periodically use the tools available to them to reevaluate how their actions are perceived by the people they are serving,
their peers, and those they work for. Because, as Funk’s Fundamental #23 states, “The higher up the flagpole you go, the more your ass shows.”
LTC Penney is the Commander of 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, 165th Infantry Brigade.
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