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Leader development in perpetuity keeps Army rolling along

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By COMMAND SGT. MAJ. TOMEKA O’NEAL / Mission and Installation Contracting Command

I attended an exceptional professional military education course at the Army War College recently, and by far, it was a very thought provoking course in which we were engaged by the sergeant major of the Army, other senior command sergeants major, general officers, educators who hold a doctorate, practitioners and other professionals.

Moreover, these authoritative experts were fully engaged in broadening my horizons on more levels than one, but the most important perspective that I obtained from this training environment is that my growth and development is a continuous process, and the spectrum to which that growth and development is continuously advanced is not mutually inclusive or exclusive but a combination of both and how I accept the knowledge that is being shared with me by others.

The perpetuity of my continued growth and development is the process in which I share that knowledge with my subordinates, peers and seniors alike, and they in turn share it with their subordinates, peers and seniors as well. The process repeats itself, not in a circuitous motion but a linear and nonlinear motion that moves vertically, horizontally, intentionally and sometimes sporadically when every opportunity is considered a learning opportunity.

Why is leader development important to our Army, organizations, officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers and Soldiers? The easy answer is because we are told to do so in accordance with Army regulations, Army doctrine publications, Army doctrine reference publications, field manuals, Army pamphlets, etc., because the list goes on. Moreover, we follow commanders’ guidance and understand a commander’s intent in order to pursue the challenges we face in our Army and our organizations. Although the chief of staff of the Army has stated unequivocally that his No. 1 priority is readiness, we as leaders have to put that in perspective (content and context) of what is the totality of readiness.

Readiness culminates into the holistic approach that all leaders must take to ensure that not only individual readiness is important, but also the culmination of manning, training, equipping and leader development are encompassed in that assessment. Failure to manufacture balance between these four entities leave organizations with an unbalanced, uneven stool, so to speak, and an inability to perform its mission at the tactical, operational and/or strategic levels.

Notwithstanding, what is the correlation between leader development in perpetuity and the holistic approach to readiness in our Army to the unbalanced, four-legged stool? Well the correlation is that leaders at all levels are required to continuously learn, grow and develop themselves throughout their military careers. We, at all ranks, are required to attend certain professional development courses within the Army’s education and training system to ensure that we continue to stay abreast of our technical and tactical knowledge, skills and attributes that lend to the efficiency, proficiency and effectiveness of how our organizations uphold the Army standard, and apply reasonable standards to what we are asked to achieve.

We as leaders are required to develop our subordinates through ends, ways and means that may not always be conducive to an organization’s operational tempo. Nonetheless we must figure out a way to make it happen within the confines of the three domains of the Army Leader Development Model, which encompasses the Operational Domain, Institutional Domain and Self Development Domain. If leaders at all levels find the balance between these domains to develop and implement leader development training plans, then we, the Army, will continue to maintain a force that is ready to deploy, deter and defend our nation’s greatest resources.

Leaders must not only expose themselves to continuous developmental growth regardless of the grade, rank or position they hold, but also instill the same initiative in their subordinates to grow as leaders and thus the perpetuity argument is substantiated. We as leaders have to be stewards of our profession and encourage our Soldiers to be stewards of their profession as well. The end state is that our Army has a legacy like none other, and this is why it is imperative that we never miss an opportunity to share our knowledge, skills and experiences with those who follow because in turn, they are the leaders of tomorrow, and leader development in perpetuity continues to be the binding material that keeps our Army rolling along. n