Leadership Defined - An enduring expression for Army leadership has been BE-KNOW-DO. Army leadership begins with what the leader must "BE"—the values and attributes that shape character. It may be helpful to think of these as internal and defining qualities possessed all the time. As defining qualities, they make up the identity of the
"Who is an Army leader? An Army leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals. Army leaders motivate people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking, and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization."
Values and attributes are the same for all leaders, regardless of position, although refined through experience and assumption of positions of greater responsibility. For example, a sergeant major with combat experience may have a
deeper understanding of selfless service and personal courage than a new Soldier. The knowledge that leaders should use in leadership is what Soldiers and Army civilians "KNOW." Leadership requires knowing about tactics, technical systems, organizations, management of resources, and the tendencies and needs of people. Knowledge shapes a leader’s identity and is reinforced by a leader’s actions. While character and knowledge are necessary, by themselves they are not enough. Leaders cannot be effective until they apply what they know. What leaders "DO," or leader actions, is directly related to the influence they have on others and what is done. As with knowledge, leaders will learn more about leadership as they serve in different positions. New challenges facing leaders, the Army, and the Nation mandate adjustments in how the Army educates, trains, and develops its military and civilian leadership. The Army’s mission is to fight and win the Nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the spectrum of conflicts in support of combatant commanders. In a sense, all Army leaders must be warriors, regardless of service, branch, gender, status, or component. All serve for the common purpose of protecting the Nation and accomplishing their organization’s mission to that end. They do this through influencing people and providing purpose, direction, and motivation.
"Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization."
1. INFLUENCING - Influencing is getting people—Soldiers, Army civilians, and multinational partners—to do what is necessary. Influencing entails more than simply passing along orders. Personal examples are as important as spoken words. Leaders set that example, good or bad, with every action taken and word spoken, on or off duty. "Through words and personal example, leaders communicate purpose, direction, and motivation."
a. Purpose and Vision - Purpose gives subordinates the reason to act in order to achieve a desired outcome. Leaders should provide clear purpose for their followers and do that in a variety of ways. Leaders can use direct means of conveying purpose through requests or orders for what to do. Vision is another way that leaders can provide purpose. Vision refers to an organizational purpose that may be broader or have less immediate consequences than other purpose statements. Higher-level leaders carefully consider how to communicate their vision.
b. Direction - Providing clear direction involves communicating how to accomplish a mission: prioritizing tasks, assigning responsibility for completion, and ensuring subordinates understand the standard. Although subordinates want and need direction, they expect challenging tasks, quality training, and adequate resources. They should be given appropriate freedom of action. Providing clear direction allows followers the freedom to modify plans and orders to adapt to changing circumstances. Directing while adapting to change is a continuous process. For example, a battalion motor sergeant always takes the time and has the patience to explain to the mechanics what is required of them. The sergeant does it by calling them together for a few minutes to talk about the workload and the time constraints. Although many Soldiers tire of hearing from the sergeant about how well they are doing and that they are essential to mission accomplishment, they know it is true and appreciate the comments. Every time the motor sergeant passes information during a meeting, he sends a clear signal: people are cared for and valued. The payoff ultimately comes when the unit is alerted for a combat deployment. As events unfold at breakneck speed, the motor sergeant will not have time to explain, acknowledge performance, or motivate them. Soldiers will do their jobs because their leader has earned their trust.
c. Motivation - Motivation supplies the will to do what is necessary to accomplish a mission. Motivation comes from within, but is affected by others’ actions and words. A leader’s role in motivation is to understand the needs and desires of others, to align and elevate individual drives into team goals, and to influence others and accomplish those larger aims. Some people have high levels of internal motivation to get a job done, while others need more reassurance and feedback. Motivation spurs initiative when something needs to be accomplished. Soldiers and Army civilians become members of the Army team for the challenge. That is why it is important to keep them motivated with demanding assignments and missions. As a leader, learn as much as possible about others’ capabilities and limitations, then give over as much responsibility as can be handled. When subordinates succeed, praise them. When they fall short, give them credit for what they have done right, but advise them on how to do better. When motivating with words, leaders should use more than just empty phrases; they should personalize the message. Indirect approaches can be as successful as what is said. Setting a personal example can sustain the drive in others. This becomes apparent when leaders share the hardships. When a unit prepares for an emergency deployment, all key leaders should be involved to share in the hard work to get the equipment ready to ship. This includes leadership presence at night, weekends, and in all locations and conditions where the troops are toiling.
2. OPERATING - Operating encompasses the actions taken to influence others to accomplish missions and to set the stage for future operations. One example is the motor sergeant who ensures that vehicles roll out on time and that they are combat ready. The sergeant does it through planning and preparing (laying out the work and making necessary arrangements), executing (doing the job), and assessing (learning how to work smarter next time). The motor sergeant leads by personal example to achieve mission accomplishment. The civilian supervisor of training developers follows the same sort of operating actions. All leaders execute these types of actions which become more complex as they assume positions of increasing responsibility.
3. IMPROVING - Improving for the future means capturing and acting on important lessons of ongoing and completed projects and missions. After checking to ensure that all tools are repaired, cleaned, accounted for, and properly stowed away, our motor sergeant conducts an After Action Review (AAR). An AAR is a professional discussion of an event, focused on performance standards. It allows participants to discover for themselves what happened, why it happened, how to sustain strengths, and how to improve on weaknesses. Capitalizing on honest feedback, the motor sergeant identifies strong areas to sustain and weak areas to improve. If the AAR identifies that team members spent too much time on certain tasks while neglecting others, the leader might improve the section standing operating procedures or counsel specific people on how to do better. Developmental counseling is crucial for helping subordinates improve performance and prepare for future responsibilities. The counseling should address strong areas as well as weak ones. If the motor sergeant discovers recurring deficiencies in individual or collective skills, remedial training is planned and conducted to improve these specific performance areas. By stressing the team effort and focused learning, the motor sergeant gradually and continuously improves the unit. The sergeant’s personal example sends an important message to the entire team: Improving the organization is everyone’s responsibility. The team effort to do something about its shortcomings is more powerful than any lecture.