Inspector General and Command Climate

12/02/2020  |  Lt. Justin Sisak 108th TC (IET) IGO
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Greetings 108th Family,

Over the past couple of months the 108th Inspector General office (IGO) has distributed several informational updates on relevant topics in our ‘Did You Know’ series. 

The selected topics have discussed PII in the telework environment; Do’s & Don’ts in political activism; and APFT/ACFT guidelines in the COVID-19 environment. These products are not intended to be comprehensive reviews, instead quick, relevant snapshots to highlight key-takeaways.

We encourage leaders and Soldiers to review, share and post these products within their organization’s office space. Another critical and quite arguably the most critical aspect each organization must foster is a positive command climate. A positive command climate is always a commander’s top priority, regardless of whether in peacetime, wartime, and currently within the COVID-19 environment.

Across the Army, the failure to promote a positive command climate is consistently a frequent allegation made to the IG. It also typically comes with one of the highest rates of substantiation- Some examples include:

  • Creating a social structure with “in groups” and “out groups,” or socializing only with certain elements within the command.
  • Favoring certain Soldiers for career development, positions of esteem, or flow of information.
  • Not supporting SHARP and EO programs by making derogatory comments based on ethnicity, religion, and/or gender.
  • Not open to feedback or constructive criticism, demonstrating a lack of subordinates’ concerns; dismissing Soldier’s concerns without justification or action.
  • Creating an environment where Soldiers are afraid to voice their problems for fear of reprisal or further ostracism in the unit (e.g., threatening Soldiers based on command climate survey comments).
  • Openly demonstrating a lack of faith or trust in the leadership of the higher headquarters.
  • Publicly making fun of Soldiers using derogatory comments.

AR 600-100 specifically states: “Organizational climate refers to the perception and attitudes of Soldiers and Army Civilians as they interact within the (Army) culture with their peers, subordinates, and leaders. Observed policies and practices often drive climate, reflecting the leader’s character. The greatest influence on an organization’s climate is the quality of its leadership. The commander sets the example by establishing high standards and expectations for the organization and its members. The best commanders place a high priority on personally developing their subordinate leaders, caring for the welfare of Soldiers, Army Civilians, and their families, while creating a rewarding climate of shared mutual trust and pride in team contributions to mission accomplishment.

The updated AR 600-20 further states: The commander’s #1 priority during peacetime is training – woven into this requirement is the responsibility for establishing the leadership climate of the unit and developing disciplined and cohesive units. “Commanders and other leaders will treat their subordinates with dignity and respect at all times and establish a command and organizational climate that emphasizes the duty of others to act in a similar manner toward their subordinates in accomplishing the unit mission. If leaders show loyalty to their Soldiers, the Army, and the nation, they earn the loyalty of their Soldiers. If leaders consider their Soldiers’ needs and care for their well-being, and if they demonstrate genuine concern, these leaders build a positive command climate.” Also within the updated AR 600-20, it incorporates Army Directive 2013–29, Army Command Climate Assessments (app E). This command climate assessment is required for all company grade and higher organizations with initial assessments completed for USAR units within the first 120 days and annually thereafter.

IAW AR 600-100: A healthy Army culture and organizational climate will exhibit six overarching characteristics:

  • The organizational culture and unit climate fosters unity, cohesion, and trust in accordance with the Army Ethic.
  • The culture promotes and rewards mental agility, the ability to break from established paradigms, recognize new patterns or circumstances, and adopt new solutions to problems.
  • The organization selects leaders and reward members who demonstrate the ability to sense and understand the environment quickly to exploit fleeting opportunities or counter unexpected threats.
  • The culture requires and rewards delegation of authority on the part of leaders, and the understanding and prompt, thorough execution of leader’s intent (two levels up) by subordinates.
  • The organizational culture selects and rewards leaders who provide clear priorities and focus their unit’s time and organizational energy on their mission.
  • The organizational culture is one of inclusion which demands and values diversity of knowledge and perspectives that members of different groups bring and shapes how the mission is accomplished.

In summary, leaders must foster a healthy command climate by maintaining a positive attitude, an effective work environment, treating all Soldiers equally—with dignity and respect—and communicating routinely with their Soldiers. In other words, demonstrate selfless service! Please feel free to contact your local IG or Judge Advocate for additional information.

LTC Justin Sisak (704) 342-5141 [email protected]
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