03 September 2014

Adapting Leadership to Meet the Digital Future

I am sure you all have heard about Army Learning Concept 2015 and the way ahead for our Army. I have sat in on a few briefings from many other regarding the changes that are coming and it will be challenging. But it is not anything that we as NCOs cannot handle. We have been adapting to change since the inception of our Corps.

When I first enlisted, we learned how to conduct land navigation with a map, protractor, and compass. I did not know what a PLGR was until I got to Korea in 1997. My crew, a SPC and PFC, gave me a block of instruction. Now we have Garmens, FBCB2, and many other toys and trinkets. I remember when we transitioned from PRC77s, 442s, and 524s for communication equipment. I know, I am dating myself here. The Army moved to SINGARS when I was in TRADOC at Ft Knox. We were teaching from old POIs and I did not get smart on the new communication equipment until I got to Ft Carson with 3rd ACR. Again, I got “schooled” from my crew, a SGT, SPC, and PFC. I have changed weapons platforms my entire career. I started with M113s, moving to M1025s, to Bradleys, to M1114s and M1151s, to Strykers, and then to MRAPs. With each change, we became more lethal on the battlefield. With each change, technology was moving us that much further ahead of any enemy on the battlefield.

We now have the most tactically sound force our Army has ever fielded. Our NCO Corps is made up of seasoned warriors with multiple combat tours in multiple theaters. Each one of you has something to bring to the fight. The challenge is passing that knowledge and experience on to our younger NCOs and Soldiers within our ranks.

Technology is everywhere. There are knowledge centers all over the web, Facebook, RallyPoint, and other social media. TRADOC is recording training and placing it on podcast so students and Soldiers can train outside of the classroom. Our Army and NCO Corps are moving fast with these digital upgrades and changes. The train is moving out, and we better get on board.

So what does that mean to us, the NCO Corps? It means we have to adapt our leadership style to meet these changes. Does that mean podcast counseling sessions? Absolutely not. Does that mean not taking accountability because you “didn’t get the email or text?” Absolutely not. It means staying true to the values, ideals, and traditions that got us here. Train your Soldiers. Develop them. Allow them the opportunity to excel. Conduct regular small unit training events. Put that young SPC or SGT in charge. Let them plan, resource, and execute training for your squad or team. Give them proper AAR comments and allow them the opportunity to add the improvements to the next training event. Ensure your Soldiers understand the importance of inter-personal skills. Talk to them. Counsel them. Conduct NCO calls.

These are just a few things we have inadvertently moved away from over the years. We need to get back to them.  

The way ahead is digital. The way to get there is not. What are you doing to combine the digital present and future, our history of rich traditions, and the need to train and develop our future Leaders?

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.

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