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Leader Development Part II: Materialize Your Educational Program

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The last post introduced the leader development concept and why it is important to be deliberate in it with your subordinates. Knowing its importance is the first step, but now what? How do you materialize your leader development program in your organization?

No Army manual or official publication, to include ADRP 6-22, tells you how to structure your specific program. Common program methods include a professional reading curriculum, studying history, and celebrating unit tradition. A specific plan that works for Commander A may not work for Commander B. Develop a program that fits your experience and personality. Leverage methods that work for your personal leadership style, organization’s structure, and training calendar.

There are numerous quality resources written by leaders that share their leader development experiences. Some examples include the Maneuver Self Study website that provides numerous options, and From the Green Notebook outlining several approaches and ideas in a leader development blog series. Below are the leader development program components from my company command that I utilized. All components may not work for you, but I share them to add options to select from for your own program. Continue reading → Leader Development Part II: Materialize Your Educational Program

Leader Development Part I: Where to Start

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During my company command, my brigade commander routinely emphasized that a leader’s legacy is the time they invest in their subordinates’ development and future. There is a considerable amount of professional content beyond my simple blog that focus on leader development. Is leader development that important? ADRP 6-22 states that, “Army leader development creates competent and confident leaders capable of leading trained and ready units. The concept acknowledges an important interaction that trains Soldiers now and develops leaders for the future.” Developing your subordinate leaders increases their professional maturity, capacity, and understanding. That ultimately improves your entire organization’s capabilities, but more importantly, prepares your leaders to be successful in future positions of increased responsibility.  By investing time and effort in developing your subordinates and team, you directly help in making the Army better.

If not familiar with the Army’s leader development concept, they structure it into three domains: institutional, operational, and self-development. Institutional domain development occurs at key military courses such as Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) and Captains Career Course (CCC) for officers, and Advanced or Senior Leaders Course (ALC, SLC) for NCOs. Self-development includes the methods leaders personally pursue to learn and mature; they are not part of any formal program imposed on them. This often includes a personal reading program; reading this blog can even contribute to your self-development program. Leaders don’t direct self-development for their subordinates, but have a responsibility to emphasize to their subordinates why it is important, and encourage them to structure their own self-development program (addressed in a future post). Finally, the operational domain encompasses the learning that leaders achieve in their assigned operational units; it is what I address in this blog series. Continue reading → Leader Development Part I: Where to Start

Coaching – An Essential Leadership Tool

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By Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Thomas Bowen

Coaching your followers, whether they be US Army Soldiers, West Point cadets, or civilians, is an ideal way to cultivate their involvement in solving their own challenges, engage them relationally, and exercise your leadership.

Although the term “coaching” could connote athletic drilling by your football or softball coach, here we mean it to be impromptu, one-to-one interactions between a leader and his or her led. Alternatively, “coaching” could conjure up visions of a long-term mentor-protégé relationship; in this context, we will confine the term to mean preemptive, informal, in-the-moment interaction between a leader and a subordinate. A coaching interaction can take place on the side of a Stryker infantry vehicle, on the parade field, or in the aisle of a warehouse. As a leader, you take advantage of a coaching moment when you see a follower struggling, or potentially struggling, with a task. Out of pride or embarrassment your follower may not approach you with his or her problem, whereupon you approach that person to avoid a potentially disastrous situation. Continue reading → Coaching – An Essential Leadership Tool