05/22/2019 | By CSM William C. Phipps Commanding, 104th Training Division (LT)
From the 104th Command Sergeant Major
If we could focus on one thing to give back some of that time, what would it be? In my opinion, it would be leadership. By focusing on leadership, readiness would fix itself, realistic training would be achievable, mentorship and actual counseling would happen, and mission command would be present at all levels.
When we lose focus on our Soldiers and the mission, Soldiers go unpaid, realistic training doesn’t happen, suspenses aren’t met, and someone else has to pick up our slack. As leaders, we owe it to our Soldiers to be honest, nonbiased and clearly communicate our expectations. In our organization, a First Sergeant should know almost everything about our Soldiers we serve. At the least, we should know about their families, jobs, personal and professional challenges, required schools, evaluations (because we are doing our counseling), and APFT due dates. The things we should have in our Leader Books.
As I visit Soldiers, I see too often that isn’t the case; we have lost focus on the importance of leadership. I ask that every one of you at all levels take the time to get to know your Soldiers. Ask yourselves “are you positively impacting their lives”? Taking care of Soldiers is more than giving them what they want, it is holding them accountable for their actions or lack thereof. Accountability is crucial to the development and management of expectations. Leading by example shows our Soldiers what right looks like. Leading from the front is the standard. If you are not doing this, then why are you a leader? As hard as it may be, we have to be honest with ourselves.
We are undergoing many changes in the Army, a good example being the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). I’ve heard complaints about the lack of equipment, how long it is going to take to conduct, and questions about why is it gender and age neutral. While change is uncomfortable and many time proves difficult for individuals to see the bigger picture, it is necessary. As Army Reserve Soldiers, the resources provided to us forces us to be more adaptive and creative than our Active Duty brothers and sisters when it comes to accomplishing the mission. Regardless of our lack of money, time, and equipment, the need to begin the new training is essential to giving our Soldiers a head start before the implementation of the changes go on record. Merely taking the initiative to research online or viewing the PowerPoint presentation that every Soldier in the 104th DIV should have received will make the change less painful. We must focus more on shifting the mindset of preparing for the new ACFT instead of trying to dodge the inevitable. Our proactivity will enable us all to be better prepared for the future when we are called to defend our nation, as the main idea behind the test is to save Soldiers lives on the battlefield.
Remaining focused on our responsibilities as Soldiers in the United States Army Reserve is our key to success. We have specific requirements that we have to meet to continue to serve, which is no different from the many corporations you all belong to. While first-line leaders can assist and advise on individual responsibilities, the onus is on the individual. Are you doing the right thing every day when you wake up? Do you ask yourself if you are a role model for your family and Soldiers? Are you proud to serve your country and your Soldiers? I want to believe that everyone that reads this can say yes, but unfortunately, I have encountered both leaders and Soldiers, who display self-seeking and entitled behavior as if they Army “owes” them something. Remember the Army Value “Selfless Service”? This isn’t an easy task, it takes balance and establishing priorities of work. While we focus on holding our Soldiers accountable, as Leaders we should be held to a higher standard of accountability. The Army is an ever-changing organization, and our Soldiers ability to adapt and overcome challenges are what make it so great. Manage your time, provide realistic training, get out of your Reserve Centers, be creative and ask for input from your teams. Sometimes, the best answers come from the lowest levels.
After six months in this position, I have seen some remarkable Soldiers in our formation. I have visited multiple units and had the opportunity to speak to a large number of Soldiers. I can say that I am incredibly proud of the group of professionals that we have amongst us. I ask that all of you manage those Soldier’s talents and delegate downward to ease your workloads. Soldiers want to be busy and part of the team. Take time to thank and reward the Soldiers that go above and beyond. Encourage and motivate others to work together and not be afraid to ask for help when needed. Allow leaders to make decisions based on your guidance. Create a positive work environment for your units to prosper. Don’t lose focus on why you’re a Soldier, a Leader, and a part of something bigger than yourself. Always remain humble and strive to be better every day. Finally, I want to personally thank all the families that sacrifice memories and time for their Soldier to serve in the United States Army Reserve. Our country is in a much better place because of it. Take care and hope to see you soon.