Commentary: Mentor Young Soldiers

12/07/2009  |  C. Todd Lopez
In Briefs…

This Army is full of bright, motivated Soldiers who are yearning to learn more about their jobs and how to be leaders themselves.

Young Soldiers need guidance from their squad leaders, platoon leaders and anyone else willing to pay attention to them.

In this time of drawdowns, high optempo, day-to-day duties, as well as guard duty requirements, leaders must not forget about Soldiers’ basic needs.

Too many times in these stressful moments, leaders get so caught up in the need to meet deadlines and make meetings, and in figuring out who will do the schedules, they sometimes forget to give Soldiers basic guidance and attention.

Instead of telling a soldier that “I have no time right now. You will just have to wait,” maybe leaders could tell the Soldier to come up with a plan and after the busy meeting the two of them can sit down and discuss it.

Instead of getting angry with a Soldier because they didn’t do a job the way the leader wanted, maybe they could take a deep breath and tell the Soldier what they could have done better and show them how to do it if they don’t know how.

Leaders, sit back for a moment and remember when you were a young Soldier. How did you learn your job? How did you learn to lead and teach young Soldiers? Who gave you the time you needed?

Answer those questions and then ask yourself if you are really doing the same for your Soldiers.

This is a stressful time for everyone, but it can also be a tool for learning and guidance for many young Soldiers to develop their leadership skills and styles. They can become proficient in their jobs and complete projects that may have been otherwise too difficult.

Soldiers are everyone’s number one priority. Remember, your Soldiers will be the way you teach them to be. It is up to you to make them the best soldiers and leaders they can be. You are the teacher.

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