Sgt. Maj. Edward Baptiste
94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command
Army regulations define the role of the noncommissioned officer; the NCO guide lists the skills, knowledge and attitudes of each grade; and the NCO Creed is the guiding document on how we must perform our duties. These are “tools” we add to our own “leader’s toolbox.”
If you put together all the different tools available, you will find certain recurring themes, and I have found six tenants (i.e. tools) that we as NCOs need to use, remember and strive to master:
• Communication — Keeping your subordinates informed is a sergeant’s responsibility. We as leaders must strive to keep open lines of communication both up and down the chain. We need to talk with, counsel and mentor our Soldiers. Without effective communication, we can’t get our message across. We must be able to not only talk to our Soldiers, but to talk with them as well.
• Fair Treatment — Consideration of others is nothing new to the NCO Corps. Leadership typically relies on Soldiers known to perform well, but we must balance how we treat those who do not meet the grade. Our subordinates deserve to be led by caring leaders who know how to balance the mission with the needs of the Soldier.
• Taking Care of Soldiers — Sergeants take care of Soldiers. We do this in many ways — by providing purpose, motivation and direction — but we don’t do it by coddling. Being a Soldier is serious business. A hundred different leaders would probably come up with 100 different definitions on what exactly it means to take care of Soldiers, but the bottom line is know your Soldiers, and understand “what a Soldier needs is not always what they want.”
• Support the Chain of Command — There’s a major difference between providing input on or clarifying orders versus questioning orders. If you have concerns, address it through your chain of command; never complain in front of your subordinates. But after you have discussed your issues, execute the mission to the best of your ability. Sergeants have a responsibility to follow orders and give orders to their squad or team. That is what leadership is all about.
• Technical and Tactical Proficiency — All Soldiers should be proficient in their Military Occupational Specialty at their current grade and skill level. Soldiers who aren’t proficient in their jobs are a burden on the remainder of the unit, and beyond certain grade levels shouldn’t be allowed to stay in the military. Staying current in your job, learning new skills and developing good work habits are necessary to excel.
• Professional and Self-Development — Coming to work, putting in a full day and doing the jobs assigned to you won’t ensure success alone. Just as in any endeavor you desire to be good at, you must learn, study, train and continue to better yourself, both personally and professionally. Learning about the Army through classes and self-study are great ways to expand your skills. Don’t forget to read field manuals, periodicals and related military publications. Not only do you get promotion points for learning, you develop yourself and equip yourself with knowledge, a great asset in today’s society.
Today, as always, being a Soldier is a rewarding experience.
We have our own reasons for choosing this profession; however, as you progress through the career-enhancing steps, remember why we do this — to give Soldiers the skills and training to prepare them for the ultimate battles they may face.
Having the right tools in your leader’s toolbox can make all the difference.