Back to Basics: Leadership skills not lost, just misplaced

| June 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

Sgt. Maj. Mike Maynard
94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command



Recently, we have seen much about how we need to get back to the basics and how we have lost the art of leadership. The words “getting back” and “lost” infer that we are not doing something that we did before. As a leader, some questions that come to mind are “Have we really lost it?” and if so, “When and why did we lose it?” and finally, “How are we going to fix it?” After all, we are noncommissioned officers. That is what we do – fix problems.

After serving more than a few years, I must admit that I do see what everyone is talking about and I understand the concern. What does not seem to make sense, however, is that if we “lost it” during the last ten years in combat, how did we successfully operate in that environment without adhering to the basics?

I don’t believe we “lost it” or that we “got away from it.”

Maybe we are just not experienced at applying the basics in a non-combat environment.

However, one area that we seem to be lacking in is establishing, maintaining and enforcing standards. We see Soldiers who do not adhere to uniform standards, but the NCOs do not make the corrections. During multiple deployments, I saw NCOs enforce uniform standards, weapons posture, vehicle maintenance and other things too numerous to list here.

We required Soldiers to adhere to uniform policies and when they didn’t, we made on-the-spot corrections. We checked on our Soldiers daily and ensured their living areas were neat and clean. We practiced these things on a daily basis so that it became second nature during combat – this is what made us successful.

Another area where we seem to be lacking in is caring for Soldiers. We have Soldiers with personal and family issues, but we have NCOs that are unaware of what their Soldiers are going through until it is a crisis. However, during multiple deployments, I saw NCOs talking with their Soldiers and their fellow NCOs every day. They knew all about their families, when a Soldier was having issues at home and how to talk a Soldier down from an unsettling mission or a family problem.

Finally, applying the same logic allows us further re-apply our leadership skills into other basic areas. Two that come readily to mind are accountability and safety. If we care about our Soldiers and we are enforcing standards, we will always know where our Soldiers are and we will always make sure they are where they are supposed to be.

Also, we will not only ensure that our Soldiers are operating in a safe environment, but we will teach them how to apply composite risk management in their daily lives so they make the safe and right decisions.

Furthermore, it is important to apply our leadership in the financial lives of our Soldiers. Teaching and monitoring fiscal management can alleviate relationship issues, debt crisis, stress and even security clearance issues.

Have we really lost it? I don’t think so. While deployed, I witnessed countless examples of Soldiers and NCOs adhering to the basics and demonstrating outstanding leadership. The only thing I believe we have “lost” is the understanding and appreciation of what executing the basics in a non-combat environment taught us and how these skills made us successful in combat over the last ten years.

So, NCOs, get out there and do those things we know we need to do — establish, maintain and enforce standards and truly care for Soldiers! And Soldiers, get out there and help us out — you have a responsibility to speak up and let us know about leadership issues and concerns that affect you, your family and the team.

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Category: Leadership, News, Standing Columns

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