Command Sgt. Maj. James Van Sciver
205th Military Intelligence Battalion, 500th MI Brigade
There is a tool all noncommissioned officers should re-familiarize themselves with: the leader book.
The leader book is an outstanding tool for leaders of all levels and is as flexible as needed to meet individual or unit requirements.
Field Manual 7-22.7, or The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, provides an overview with examples showing how to create a basic leader book.
Since NCOs are responsible for individual and small-team training, they must provide qualitative training assessments on each of their team/squad members to the chain of command.
Not only does the leader book provide a mechanism to track individual or collective training deficiencies, it allows the chain of command to make resourcing decisions to provide time or necessary equipment to achieve more proficiency.
The best functionality of a leader book is captured in three bullets in the FM:
•Track and evaluate Soldiers’ training status and proficiency on essential tasks;
•Provide administrative input to the chain of command on the proficiency of the unit; and
•Conduct Soldier performance counseling.
Tracking and evaluating Soldier training status and proficiency is developed from individual and collective tasks supporting the unit’s Mission Essential Task List, or METL. Having these documents ensures the NCO knows which tasks are required to begin developing a training plan, possibly through Sergeant’s Time Training.
Furthermore, an assessment after conducting training can identify specific areas where a Soldier may be weak, requiring more emphasis on that specific aspect of a task.
Aside from METL-related tasks, annual training requirements can also be added to ensure leaders manage time to properly allow for Army Warrior Task and Battle Drill training, quarterly Equal Opportunity training or others.
Each quarter, units present quarterly training briefs, or QTB, to their next higher command. The leader book, if properly used, provides a quick snapshot for a well-informed assessment of a team’s, squad’s or platoon’s proficiency.
Weapons qualification, physical fitness testing, schools status and vehicle certification and density are all easily tracked in the book.
Aside from the QTB, leaders can use this tool to develop performance counseling and identify areas where leaders can step in to assist in Soldiers’ development.
Based on a re-emergence of the leader book topic from the sergeant major of the Army down, I directed a review of what requirements my battalion requires. We discovered we were missing specific changes and training trackers based on recent changes to our METL.
Aside from the standard administrative and AR 350-1, or Army Training and Leader Development, training requirements, we decided to include specific job tasks that apply only to specific military occupational specialties, or MOSs, in our inventory.
Overall, we discovered we are good at getting the basic information, but we need to grow the leader book to add more specificity. Finally, we developed a standardized book, with room for additions, which I inspect during promotion boards and, on occasion, while walking the halls and talking with troops.
The power of a leader book is incredible, if maintained. NCOs need to ensure they work review plans into their personal battle rhythm, whether at home, over the weekend or every Friday.
Either way, the leader book is a great tool that, if left neglected, proves to be nothing more than a book with no value.
NCOs can use this tool creatively and consistently to ensure they can track and train their Soldiers to provide accurate assessments of Soldiers’ training status.