Sgt. Maj. Quinton Rice
Pacific Regional Medical Command
“Do something. Lead, follow or get out of the way” is the motto that was ingrained in me during basic training.
These words were the basic foundation for my military career.
It is a little embarrassing to admit now that I didn’t fully grasp the understanding of this motto until nearly a decade later, although I often recited it.
I discovered the hard way that there would be times in my life when unpopular decisions or directives would be passed down to me, and I would have to communicate them to my subordinates. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to look from my foxhole and watch senior leaders as they toiled with the unenviable task of presenting unpopular messages to the masses and taking the lead on unclear projects.
I noticed that there were leaders who often embraced these opportunities and positively presented the information to their personnel. I also observed that those who displayed an inefficient and apathetic approach to executing this task led to personnel who were diametrically opposed to the decisions of their leaders, reacting negatively to their directives.
These observations propelled me to realize, through close observation, that there was an inherent need to get back to the basics when communicating effectively upward, downward and laterally, and when taking charge in different circumstances.
In our organization, we always try to train our Soldiers to present the decisions and directives of their leaders in a positive light. We do this in a myriad of different ways, most notably, by rotating leadership positions and role playing. Additionally, we train leaders by giving them incomplete or non-specific information to assess their cognitive abilities and skills to lead.
We clearly understand that there may be times when Soldiers are challenged by not having complete information. The objective is to teach them how to think on their feet and not to resort to negativity or toxic conversation.
All too often, today’s Soldiers tend to give up and quit when they encounter tough circumstances, particularly when they are thrust into impromptu leadership situations. We work hard on developing flexible, independent leaders.
The desired result is to give our noncommissioned officers confidence so that they can complete any project or task assigned to them. Furthermore, when we rotate leaders, we teach everyone how to provide the best support that they can, even if they’re not in charge.
These training events and leadership development processes help our Soldiers assess their strengths and weaknesses. They also provide them with a good opportunity to see some of their congruent and incongruent behaviors in order to improve on them.
We fully understand that NCOs make NCOs; therefore, we forge through this development process to improve our future leaders.
The overarching message that we have for our NCOs is that they can successfully achieve whatever they put their efforts into.
Today, with the operational tempo and numerous mandatory training requirements, leaders have to find more creative ways to meet obligations. Getting back to the basics means that senior leaders must find ways to assist those frontline supervisors by eliminating distractions and teaching them time management skills that make everyone successful.
For that reason, I ask you to always remember the basics in regards to leadership as you walk the walk and not just talk the talk. The basis for this process reverberates throughout the Army’s NCO guide, FM 7-22.7.
I challenge you to build a legacy for all your personnel to emulate, because those who we lead deserve our very best.
(Editor’s Note: Rice is the Operations noncommissioned officer for PRMC.)