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What do junior leaders want?

Senior leaders to give guidance and get out of the way.  The good ones, at least.  Problem is, we manage to the mediocre, because they're the ones that bite us in the ass, as senior leaders.

Food for thought. And a staggering sense of deja vu to this feller who has been around the Army since the late 50's...

We never learn. Generals want to recapture their youth, and thus deny it to others. That and the fact that we obsess about stupid shit and call it discipline.

 Trust

Many of our top officers had wide latitude to conduct combat operations and solve complex problems while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, they find themselves back at home station “reestablishing garrison systems” and being micromanaged. Gone is their freedom. Top performers for the most part possess ingenuity, innovative thinking, independence and drive. While some top performers are just really good at executing orders, most are able to execute an OODA loop without much guidance. They can plan, lead and solve complex issues without much help from their superiors. And, they have done this in complex environments. But now they find themselves having to put together lists and trackers and brief every aspect of their command and their soldiers to superiors. Gone is their independence because their senior leaders don’t trust them.

Forcing leaders to fill out pages of high risk trackers to be briefed to generals rather than allowing commanders to own their companies is just one example. Having COMET teams run around post stopping vehicles to ensure they have their warning triangles is another. Carrying around a standards book as an inspectable item? Does that show trust? Most senior leaders might consider these examples inane, but to a junior officer in command, they are not. An officer leaving command is at the last good point in his career to get out before time served is greater than time left to retirement. He is making choices about whether or not to stay in. When he was trusted more with live ammunition and a hundred million dollars worth of property than he is when he is out of combat, he has much incentive to decide to bolt for a corporation that values his independent ways. He wants to see coupled actions, regulations and policies that have a specific focus and that work, not shotgun blasts that don’t fix the problem and show a lack of trust.

Read the whole thing over at Small Wars Journal - A Junior Officer's Perspective on Brain Drain
by Darrell Fawley

8 Comments

Good stuff that, but I have the distinct feeling that all those words are for naught since in terms of retaining leaders with key experience is something that has long been a problem for the Army and I don't see that changing. I think it is interesting that the good Captain suggests making officer promotions more like NCO promotions which at least from my perspective as a lower enlisted soldier from 2008 to 2012 is even more broken than officer promotions. But then again I have always maintained that the Army screwed up by eliminating the specialist promotion track and fully centralizing NCO promotions to begin with.
 
A fish (or a military) rots from the head down.

There is an absence of leadership and trust at the CINC and SECDEF levels, and most of the next several echelons.  It is clear that good leadership is neither valued nor rewarded.  Indeed, when we see it being punished or neutered, if not eradicated at lower levels, it does not take a genius to figure out what is going on.

Good people and great leaders want to be part of winning teams, and to excel, and exercise responsibility and function in a meritocracy    Liberal socialists expect mediocrity, and punish personal success or initiative, and instead hope for individual failure and dependency to sustain the illusion of their omnipotence and benevolence.  And, to sate their lust for power and personal gain.

Since November 2008 we have witnessed the culmination of American exceptionalism and freedom, and what is likely an irrevocable precipitous decline into socialist rot where a falling tide mires all boats in the mud, or crushes them on the rocks.

Our nation desperately needs a true leader, in fact many of them.
 
I kinda think CWO's have the best of both worlds. If I could do things again differently, I think I might have focused on a CWO career track.
 
 I've called this the "Reverse Charlie the Tuna Syndrome" for over 40 years now. Charlie the Tuna was, if you recall, always rejected by the Starkist fisherman's hook because he didn't taste good, despite his constantly trying to demonstrate his "good taste" by various artifices. The point of the ads was that Starkist tried to catch and can tuna that would taste good, i.e., accomplish the mission.

The "reverse" of that is that the unseen Corporation falls for the "I've got good taste" gambit, hooks the bad-tasting tuna, and you get to eat yuck out of their can.

After the Vietnam war wound down, the military found itself with too many officers. I guess it REALLY wanted to keep the best of them, so it introduced the Controlled OER System to emphasize each officer's best points in a mandatory scoring system for the Efficiency Reports. The problem was, that the wrong things got weighted heavily in the points system. An officer could work hard to get a lot of practical and combat experience, be rated high on scorable exercises, etc, and be badly outscored by another officer who "filled all the right squares", such as getting a Master's Degree or doing the next level of Professional Military Education well ahead of his contemporaries.

The result of this was the retention of many officers who had yet to learn the lessons taught at the School of Hard Knocks, and then had to learn them on very short notice when the next dust-up came along, while plenty of officers who had graduated Cum Laude from that same School failed promotion and were let go.

History repeates itself.
 
Frank - or, as we Os call 'em, "Spec4's with a club card..."
 
When I was a rifle company commander in combat, I carried a CEOI in my right front pocket.  It was very useful in calling for fire support, coordinating helicopter and fast mover support, and when talking to other commanders.  On rare occasions I experienced the stacked helicopter syndrome with the battalion commander, brigade commander, and corps commander offering advice and guidance, but for the most part I was the King of my domain and it stayed that way as long as I was perceived to be doing my job.

Some months later as an infantry company commander I kept a little notebook in my pocket in lieu of a CEOI.  This notebook was issued by the Corps Commander and was mandatory for all commanders/leaders from Division down to squad.  It dictated every aspect of our daily lives and left nothing to chance.  There was only way to do things in the Fifth United States Corps and you'd better do it the way the little notebook spelled it out.
 
 Ah, V Corps...I remember it well. "It will be Dumb." Or something. 
 
Haven't people read any history? Hell, have they not seen with their own lying eyes what works and what does not? It seems to this innocent that a lot of bad ideas are taken entirely too seriously by people in powerful positions.  Ah, one of the many reasons why I drink more than is good for me.