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Essay: Leadership Attributes and Core Competencies for United States Army Success

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  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: 1 February 2018*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 755 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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Leadership attributes and core competencies are vital to the United States Army because they are required for training, professional growth, and successful missions.  “Leader competence develops from a balanced combination of institutional schooling, self-development, realistic training, and professional experience,” according to Army Doctrine Reference Publications (ADRP 6-22), which covers Army leadership and its competencies.  According to ADRP 6-22, soldiers can learn leader competencies and their leaders teach them once they are at their unit.  Leaders in the Army teach soldiers to lead, develop, and achieve through competency-based leadership as they gain personal experience and progress through their careers.

Army leaders use a competency-based approach to help a soldier develop early on in their career and they pass down core leadership competencies to newer soldiers through training – a key component for unit readiness. Mission Essential Task Lists (METL) determine the type and level of training for soldiers to meet the standard for the unit.  According to ADP 7-0, Commanders are responsible for the training of soldiers while Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) directly administer the soldiers’ training.  NCOs lead physical readiness training (PRT), assist soldiers with weapons qualification, as well as teach general soldier skills.  The training that leaders engage their soldiers in can result in a life or death situation and can be the difference between survival and death. In ADRP 6-22, the leadership competencies suggest to lead by example, to influence beyond the chain of command, to resolve conflict, to build trust and to communicate.   Leading soldiers teaches new soldiers how to be in charge of others by showing how to lead with the experience of seeing it in action.   All of these suggestions create positive training environments and motivate subordinates to create a better fighting force.  

Professional growth is important to a leader and leaders provide a learning environment, as well as resources for subordinates to progress. Another competency of a leader is to develop their subordinates. ADRP 6-22 explains the competency of developing a positive environment, themselves, others and to be a steward of the profession, and to foster esprit de corps.   A leader will encourage their subordinates to go to Army schools such as Air Assault, Ranger, or other badge earning schools.  They also recommend their soldiers to self-develop by attending college, taking correspondence courses, and go to a promotion board when they are eligible.  They utilize mock boards and study material for their subordinates to progress in their career for promotion.  Leaders prepare themselves before they can help subordinates grow. Building a cohesive team allows leaders to spend more time providing resources and mentoring their soldiers since everyone is carrying their own weight.  By encouraging their subordinates to take initiative, leaders push soldiers into leadership positions and allow them to make decisions.  A competent leader and followers meet mission success.

 Great leaders achieve successful missions by performing at the highest level of professionalism. ADRP 6-22 says the third leader competency is to achieve results, which encompasses mission success.   A leader develops and executes plans according to their mission.  Getting results by a subordinate is the same as if the leader gets results since they are in charge of the subordinate.  When a leader is in charge of a detail or exercise, even if they accomplish nothing by themselves, if their subordinates achieve their mission then the leader does as well.  In that case, leaders receive awards and other accolades for reaching mission success due to their subordinates’ performance. Subordinates learn success from their leaders and they teach it to their soldiers to accomplish missions in the future for the Army.  Leaders start their soldiers out with small and easy tasks to show them how to consistently accomplish tasks.  Consistently accomplishing tasks leads to larger tasks being successful as well as gives the soldiers’ confidence for their next mission.  

Leads, develops, and achieves are the core leader competencies and they foster an environment to maintain a better Army.  Leader competencies are very important to the US Army because they coincide with training, professional growth, and successful missions.  “The Army leader is responsible to lead others; to develop the environment, themselves, others, and the profession as a whole; and to achieve organizational goals,” according to ADRP 6-22.  There are many types of leaders in the Army and their collective goal is to make a better organization that achieves mission success.  Soldiers learn leadership through work experience, life experience, and they carry on traits from previous leaders.  Competent leaders teach their subordinates how to be competent, which creates an intelligent, more adaptable, and stronger Army.

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