I wanted to speak to each of you about “leadership.” I know there are thousands of thoughts on this topic, but I wanted to direct my thoughts on leadership as it pertains to the Army Reserve. These are what my beliefs are and they have gotten me to where I am today, and hopefully, it will provide some insight for you and your career.
I agree 100 percent with the saying that you must “lead from the front.” So, what does that mean to us in the Army Reserve. I believe that your Soldiers need to see you as much as possible. You should be present as much as possible. I, of all people, know that between meetings, conferences and huddles, sometimes that may seem impossible, but you must try to accomplish this task.
When you are present, be the first in line for whatever is going on (physical training, equal opportunity, suicide prevention, etc). These are yours, and the commander’s programs, so own them.
I also think if you are in any leadership position, you must be approachable. Long gone are the days of the old grumpy sergeant major or first sergeant who only comes out of their office during a full moon. I always say that I can’t remember taking a class at the Sergeant Major Academy that taught me to be a “jerk.” I am not saying that you need to be everyone’s buddy. Your Soldiers must be able to reach out to you, in both good times and bad, without the fear of repercussions. This will let you know what is really going on in your formations, and hopefully head off any issues before they grow into something larger.
I also believe you must ensure that your Soldiers are doing the right thing when it comes to work-life balance. You must remember that as a leader, everyone is looking at you. The Army, and especially the Army Reserve, will never tell you that you have done enough. They will always ask for more.
You must be sure that your Soldiers are taking care of their families, as well as their civilian employers. My wife has always referred to the Army as my “hobby.” I think there is truth in that statement. I love being a part of the Army, as well as I am sure that I talk about it too much during the day. I am a military professional and my service and work is very real, but at the end of the day, it’s not what makes a living for me, or the vast majority of us. It’s the extra thing that we have all asked to be a part of, and committed to having in our lives.
I will close by saying, remember that you asked for this position. No matter what role you have as a leader, we all either provided a packet or signed a 4187 to be transferred. I say this because, not only is everyone watching us, but it’s very easy to get overwhelmed (we have all been there) but when you feel like you just can’t handle another email, phone call or situation…just take a deep breath and remember this is just something you are a part of, its not your entire self-worth. It is also something that we have each and every one asked to be involved with in our lives. All you can do is lean forward in the foxhole. Timberwolves, you can handle this, just like the leaders before you did.