Posted on Nov 7, 2013
1SG Eric Rice
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We have professional schools that must be attended to progress through the ranks but do we really get the necessary tools to be effective leaders. We have seen phrases thrown out such as "Toxic Leadership" over the past few years and that seems to be the only thing discussed. In order for the Army to reach its potential we must give the required tools to accomplish this. For instance the fundamental of Leadership, basic Psychology, and a course that drives efficiency such as Total Quality Management or Lean Six Sigma.
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Responses: 10
LTC Paul Labrador
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Yes the Army teaches leadership skills.  It has some of the best schools around.  However, like the old saying goes: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink".  Just because you've attended a top leadership program doesn't necessarily mean that you have integrated the lessons effectively or that you have the skill or capacity to execute what you have learned.  There is still the human factor involved.  This isn't the Matrix.....yet.... ;o)
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SFC Stephen Hester
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The Army teaches leadership but I think we spend less time on developing leadership skills than we do on MOS skills. I considered myself a pretty good leader (just like every other NCO) but I didn't know what I didn't know. What I have learned about leadership outside the Army has really opened my eyes. Perhaps the Army should bring in retirees and veterans from the corporate world to help revamp the program.
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LTC Bridget Kroger
LTC Bridget Kroger
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Being at war for 13 years cuts into the time to train. The units now go on rotation, come home and prepare to leave again. Every unit is tired and the last thing they need right now is someone coming along and telling them how they suck at what they are doing and to give them a better way to do it. They need time and personnel. How do you fit additional training into an already hectic work day?
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SFC Stephen Hester
SFC Stephen Hester
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That's a great question, Bridget. First of all no one is telling anyone that they "suck at what they're doing" and we should ALWAYS be looking for better ways to do business.

One of the challenges I faced as Senior NCO was dealing with the barrage of "hey you" and other bullshit taskings that interfered with my ability to execute the training schedule. We were always told that the training schedule, once signed by the Battalion Commander, was non-negotiable but if I were tasked with something by my Company Commander or First Sergeant then the training schedule went by the boards with the usual explanation "this just came from Battalion". So just how was I supposed to train my Soldiers in this environment? That's a good question that led to some very spirited discussions in training meetings and in the motor pool.

After 13 years of war we should have been able to trim all the fat from our training but it seems as if some things have only gotten worse. I've been retired for 6 years but I still keep in touch with people I served with and most of them tell me that the amount of bullshit that cuts into training time has only increased.
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SFC Materiel Readiness Branch Ncoic
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In my opinion, leadership can not be taught. My influences have always come from NCO's that embodied The NCO Creed. The Army can develop leaders and does a good job of it, for the most part ... but true leadership comes from within.
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SFC Stephen Hester
SFC Stephen Hester
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I'll agree to a point. We can teach the theory and practice the skills but that in and of itself does not guarantee one will become a good leader any more than teaching and practicing sports skills will make one a good ball player. The desire and the natural ability must be there also.
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CSM Mike Maynard
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I would have to say that there is no mechanism in place to teach Leadership institutionally. 

NCOES does not do a sufficient job of teaching leadership at all.

Now, the one thing we do well though is put folks in positions of leadership and give you Soldiers and let you "practice" and learn on the job.

Practical experience is great, but we do need to build an educational capacity prior to the experience and this is what our NCOES should be about.

Interestingly, I just sent one of my Army SSGs to an Air Force PME for their TSgts. He said that the course was primarily about leadership. Maybe they are getting it right.

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1SG Eric Rice
1SG Eric Rice
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CSM Maynard,

I would like to see what the curriculum is that the Air Force is teaching. If they are getting it right there then we should adapt it to our own professional development model even if that means we implement it at the local level. Currently I am an SLC Senior SGL at the NCO Academy and I do my best to influence our Senior NCO's to seek additional leadership training and encourage their subordinates to do the same. I do believe that we can do better with NCOES if the right people will listen.
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Lt Col Aerospace Planner
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Not sure teach the NCO's at NCOA.

After ROTC we have to do Squadron Officer School as Captain. It does have some good stuff in the curriculum, but a lot of the subject matter is more how to manage versus how to lead. Their is a big difference. Unfortunately the Air Force tests us on a lot of useless knowledge on the subject like which person came up with 5 tenants of X. It does get into group dynamics and how effectively manage teams. It gets into personality types and how you have to approach each person differently. We of course get reiterated on some basic subjects that we learned in ROTC such as authoritarian and democratic style of leadership and when it is appropriate to use the different types. Then there is the morale and ethical leadership subjects like making hard a decision being the thing to do versus the popular decision. That's about it in a nutshell.
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WO1 James Frye
WO1 James Frye
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Having gone to Air Force NCO Academy last year, and never been to an Army course other then CST I can't speak on the Army's vs Air Force. NCOA brought back its test I believe, but the entire course is aligned to have you think of your subordinates, peers and supervisors. They are a bit mechanical in the way you apply it, and you have many peer evals and several instructor evals. I think this is one of the better take-away things as most people cannot give or receive feedback's. As far as leadership, you learn a lot of simple yet sound leadership principles. I think they are not great in teaching the application of it personally, however experiences vary. For the variable, we had some Coast Guard folk's that thought the Air Force was weird. For example, during retreat and other ceremonies we do not add the flourish their service add's to it, or not referring to each other by our MOS.
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