Army Leadership-A Personal View

By Dandridge, Larry | Army, January 2008 | Go to article overview

Army Leadership-A Personal View


Dandridge, Larry, Army


Leadership is taking the point position when your unit or flight is expecting contact with the enemy. Leadership is flying a crippled bomber to the ground when one of your wounded crewmembers cannot bail out. Leadership is keeping your young soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors and coast guardsmen alive and never leaving your wounded behind. Leadership is writing a dead trooper's family a personal letter immediately after the battle.

Leadership is not glorifying war. Leadership is not doing "anything" just to get promoted. Leadership is not winning the battle at all costs, nor is it losing a war to avoid casualties. Leadership is not found in the security of a well-fortified command bunker, nor is it found in a plush officers' field mess.

No compromise of the integrity of one's word, deed or signature is leadership. Setting high standards and seeing that they are met is leadership. Intelligence, dedication, creativity and selflessness are leadership. Stamina, vigor and commitment are leadership. Spontaneous, contagious enthusiasm is leadership. Initiative, self-improvement and professionalism are leadership.

Leadership is rewarding a soldier, sailor, airman, marine, coast guardsman or civilian with the appropriate recognition immediately after exceptional service. Leadership is commanding and managing. Leadership is establishing and meeting, in priority, specific objectives. Leadership is managing by exception, using job enlargement and seeking job enrichment.

Being humanistic is leadership. Trusting well-trained troops and their ideas and decisions is leadership. Knowing where the mission is, when the troops and materiel are to be there and how many troops and systems are needed to win is leadership. Blocking out periods of private time to accomplish creative work and recharge is leadership.

Leadership is treating men and women equally without regard to race, color, creed, religion, age or customs. Leadership is visiting your wounded and sick frequently. Leadership is knowing and living by the Constitution, the Code of Conduct, the Geneva Conventions and the basic human rights of all mankind. A leader is assertive but not aggressive. Leadership is neither ruthless nor mindless discipline, but it is the ability to do the right thing at the right time, by putting the whole before the parts. Leadership is not a good efficiency report, nor is it paper readiness. Leadership is not a court-martial for every mistake, nor is it leniency for serious violations. A leader is fair, predictable and consistent.

Giving a superior sound professional advice, even when you know he or she does not want to hear it, is leadership. After you have given your best advice, following all legal, moral and ethical orders, even when you do not agree with them, is leadership. Leading when you can, following when you should and getting the hell out of the way when you have nothing to offer is leadership. Learning the language, culture and customs of a host country is leadership. Staying in top physical condition is leadership.

Leadership is a general who knows the friendly and the enemy situations, knows the immediate action sequence for the M16 rifle, knows his driver's first name and those of his family members. Leadership is a private who knows that he or she is in the chain of command and may have to take over when senior in rank. Leadership knows that a water truck in the desert is worth more combat power than an extra armored cavalry regiment.

Not forgetting that the past is our heritage, the present is our challenge and the future is our responsibility is leadership. Not being overweight, not smoking, saying no to drugs and not drinking alcohol in excess is leadership. Delegating authority, commanding confidence and respect, and accepting full responsibility for your actions is leadership. Ingenuity, sociability, tact and tenacity are leadership. Cross-training is leadership.

Leadership is not being right all the time, and it is certainly not being wrong most of the time. …

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