A call to arms: It’s time to get back to basics

After more than a decade of conflict, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command embarked on a year-long quest to assess the condition of the Army profession, conducting surveys, focus groups and forums, and analyzing past Army studies. 

TRADOC summarized the study’s findings and recommendations in the Army Profession Campaign Annual Report, released April 2 of this year.  

Two of the report’s specific findings hit home for me.

The first is that Soldiers across all levels of the Army commented on the need to improve the mentoring, coaching, and counseling skills that had diminished over the course of the past decade.

The second is that focus groups reported that when items must be cut from the training calendar, the first thing to go is often officer professional development and noncommissioned officer professional development training and education.

The findings come as no surprise to me. In fact, I can only surmise that the same can be said of our sister services.

As a senior enlisted advisor in Stuttgart for the past three years, I’ve witnessed enlisted members from all service branches juggle competing requirements that all seem to need immediate attention. Of course it’s going to negatively affect any training management system.

The NCO corps has got to get back to basics. Regularly scheduled professional development sessions will serve to keep our mentoring, coaching and counseling skills sharp, and allow us to maximize our enlisted members’ knowledge of the basics, such as policies and regulations, and the latest career progression programs. It also ensures they understand how they must conduct themselves on and off duty. 

It will help us to develop leaders with strong leadership traits.  

A leader once said to me, “A person who can charismatically get people to accomplish a task by instilling a spirit of pride, honor, commitment and courage is like possessing a winning lottery ticket.”

I used to think that charismatic leaders are born.However, I recently read in “Psychology Today” that charismatic leadership can be taught.

Recent research conducted by the University Lausanne Business School showed that training in charismatic leadership tactics improves managers’ charisma, and thus, their effectiveness as leaders. And while charismatic leadership tactics can be taught, much of what makes anyone an effective leader comes from within.

Nikki Owen, a British corporate charisma coach, said that it’s a person’s sense of purpose, their values and principles that help others see them as dynamic and enthusiastic. 

According to her, a charismatic person has a mental vision of his or her purpose that others can feel, see and hear. In “An Audience with Charisma,” Owen wrote, “Having a strong mental picture of your aims tends to reinforce your own actions and the responses and actions of others in the direction of the vision.”

But it all has to be genuine and from the heart.

Character, commitment and competence can’t be faked. Leaders have to talk the talk and walk the walk. The military’s recent operations tempo has created a cadre of leaders who are smart, competent and adaptive.

Whether it is peacetime or war, administrative or training, personal or professional, as NCOs we need to make sure we set aside time to transfer our vast knowledge and experiences to grow our junior enlisted — our future leaders.

Let them “feel, see and hear” our passion for our profession, and help put them on the path to cultivate their own.

To read the Army Profession Campaign Annual Report, visit the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic website at http://cape.army.mil.