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                 office years ago, but I also learned two things about myself: 1. I needed to work on empathy, and 2. I failed to embody what I always thought servant leadership encompassed. In the brigade, legal packets are supposed to have a quick turnover between parties. I kept that in mind as I signed the discharge paperwork and counseled the Trainee.
I ensured I checked all the boxes, notifying him of the next steps of the process, but I had taken the empathy quality out of the event. I treated
it as something to do instead of putting things into perspective that this individual raised his right hand and volunteered to enlist in the U.S. Army. I have unfortunately separated additional individuals from the Army under Chapter 11, Entry Level Performance and Conduct Discharge, and have learned a lot about leadership since
the first separation. I attempt to improve my leadership skills daily, making every effort to lead with empathy, taking time to care and truly know and understand those I lead. I may take longer now to take action on any UCMJ or Non- judicial Punishment, as it’s no longer a “check the box” situation for me.
Still, through the art of listening, I’ve acquired the information I need to make an informed decision.
“Nobody cares how
much you know until they
know how much you care.”
TRADOC Commander
GEN Funk’s fundamental
#28 highlights emotions
in our Army profession.
Leaders are educated
through different
mediums, devoting time to
personal and professional
development, repetition,
and years of service.
However, someone with
quality training and an
array of good ideas can still be a poor leader. Communication is key to gaining empathy and trust. Successful leaders build a foundation of trust by listening to their Soldiers.
Additionally, asking about a Trainee’s background, what their military aspirations are, life before the Army, etc., helps ease a Trainee into the military while they struggle to assimilate to
the Army standards and profession. Listening may give a leader clues to a person’s mental stability and whether they are a harm to themselves or others. Those being discharged and afraid of the unknown that lays before them, discerning the unspoken words, and deciphering implied messages are valuable tools for a leader to embody.
COMMITMENT TO PERSONAL GROWTH
The Army’s rhythm is to “train Soldiers, grow them into leaders.” This maxim is the foundation of Initial Entry Training (IET). Fort Jackson is a premiere center for servant leadership where servant leaders must also be teachers to develop their followers. At BCT, the teacher essentially equates to a Drill Sergeant. In his essay, Greenleaf focuses on answering the questions, “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” Over a ten-week cycle, Drill Sergeants, teach, coach, and mentor civilians, transforming
them into Soldiers. Trainees become wiser
on Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, increase self- awareness and autonomy, and carry out specific tasks with minimal instruction as they transition into Blue Phase. I recall the Drill Sergeants I had during my BCT experience, fresh in my military career. They were the first to help me to develop into the leader I am today.
As a commander and senior officer within
my organization, I have a duty to teach, coach, and mentor the junior
officers. Their development is paramount to how they will execute the next phase in their career. Individuals with the potential for continued growth and leadership stay in the military and grow into leaders. Getting to know a subordinate’s goals, both personally and professionally, is essential as I may help them achieve these goals if an individual’s priorities are met, devotion to the unit increases, thereby achieving mission success.
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