Good leaders push, encourage

| October 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

Chaplain (Maj.) Patrick Lowthian, Brigade Chaplain, 516th Signal Brigade

Chaplain (Maj.) Patrick Lowthian
Brigade Chaplain, 516th Signal Brigade

Ancient wisdom is the best wisdom. St Benedict of Nursia lived over 1,500 years ago, but his famous book, “The Rule” still speaks today.

One of the most striking chapters gives timeless wisdom on leadership. Chapter 64 discusses how the head of a monastery, the abbot, is to lead the brethren under his charge and care.

Benedict says this: “Let [the abbot] hate ill-doing but love the brethren. In administering correction, let him act with prudent moderation, lest being too zealous in removing the rust he break the vessel.”

There is a lesson here for Army leadership. Army leaders uphold and enforce standards through training, mentoring, coaching and correction. Benedict’s advice here is that when we correct another person, we must do so in a manner that builds up the Soldier.

In 2006, there was a young Soldier in my battalion. He wasn’t very good at his job. He had been shuffled from squad to squad and had no place to belong. One day a sergeant first class saw this young Soldier in the hallway commiserating over his fate. The NCO realized that the only leadership this Soldier had ever experienced was leadership that tore him down instead of building him up. The NCO took him under his wing, effectively trained and mentored him, and turned him into a stellar Soldier who contributed to the fight.

Tailoring help
Each Soldier is unique. For some, motivation comes in the form of a kick in the seat—“Get moving, Soldier.” For others, motivation looks more like an arm around the back—“You can make it, we’ll go together.” Good leaders know their Soldiers and know that a cookie cutter approach doesn’t work. They apply different techniques depending on the Soldier and the individual circumstance, “lest being too zealous in removing the rust he break the vessel.”

What is the result of this tailored form of leadership?

Benedict continues: “let (the leader) so temper everything that the strong may still have something to desire and the weak may not draw back.”

Under good leadership strong Soldiers are continually given a goal for which to strive. At the same time, ‘the weak’ are not pushed down through harsh correction, but encouraged to move forward as well through effective training and mentoring.

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, Standing Columns

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