The day I put an on My Sergeant's strip, I wonder how to be a better leader. Over the past few years, I have probably read more than ten books about the leaderships and attended many workshops that talk five levels of leadership and extraordinary leadership. The all the seminars and all the books did not make any sense until my introduction to SFC Branch. She has the vision and moral, ethical compass to empower subordinates to be a successful. SFC Branch leadership legacy, and the impact it makes is directly influenced by historical decisions she made by her values. SFC Branch planted a seed in my leadership ability that form which I consistently examine my performance as a leader. This paper is to shed light on how SFC Branch displayed Army leadership attributes in her leadership and how Impacted my leadership growth.
Leader attributes and competencies positively impacted the Army As a Businessman, I believe companies need a growth plan to improve, so do those who work for me. What I am implying is as we lead others, we must set them on a course for success as well. As Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric as stated in one of his speeches, "Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course."
This paper is an attempt to highlight what it means to be a great leader that carries strong Army leadership traits. A leader is someone that provides direction and motivation. I will further explain why, without proper leadership, we would have a difficult task to carry out our mission and will not able to live up to our army value. All the books I read over the years, and all the workshops I have attended all of them have one thing in standard "leaders are develope through discipline, hard work, training, and dedication." (Maxwell, 1998)
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In a book, the five-level leadership by John Maxwell states that leaders must have the passion to not only lead others but for leading them effectively. It reminds me of a quote that read in John Maxwell's book 21 irrefutable law of leadership. He says, "he who thinks he leads but has no followers is only taking a walk." As a businessman, I always looked up to Jack Welch's approach to leadership. As we all know, Jack Welch worked for GE for 40 years, succeeding his way through the ranks until he becomes chairman and CEO of GE. Under his leadership, GE, a corporate giant, grew in size and profit and became global dominance. Jack Welch once said that "Integrity is just a ticket to the game. If you do not have it in your bone, you should not be allowed in the Field" (Welch, 2005)
As a Non-Commission Officer (NCO) in the New Jersey National Guard, I have seen my share of corrupt leaders that failed as leaders also as a good human being. Some of them talk about the attributes that make a great Army leader but failed severely, living up to those Army values. One Staff Sergent he shall not be name always scolded younger soldiers about Character and Integrity and their lack of moral values, but, as an NCO, he failed to live by. He was first arrested in June 2018 in Salt lake city, Utah, during the panther Strike exercise, which made a National News. Shopper caught him for taking upskirt photos of the female shopper.
After this incident, he was caught four more times for taking photos up a female's skirt without her knowing. This NCO failed as a leader and not only a stain on the NCO community but, brought shame to all of us who knew him and saw him as a leader. During my time in the national guard, I also have seen so many great leaders that have the integrity to tell the bitter truth and keep their word. Their Intelligence and having enough curiosity and breadth of knowledge to lead others. The maturity that able them to handle stress and setbacks and perform their duties while respecting other's emotions.
Out of all these leaders, SFC Branch stands out for Her Integrity, Presence, Intellect, and her ability to lead is unmatched. When I hear the word "competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind- the accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers" (NCO Creed) it reminds me of SFC Branch. Her ability to handle stress and setbacks without being arrogant and having a sense of humor.
SFC Branch's ability to thrive on action, relish on unexpected changes. Her in-depth knowledge of her Job and strong persuasion skill and her ability to make a tough decision and fulfill the mission even when all the information was not available There were more than few occasions when during leadership conference call for the upcoming drill weekend she took control and bailed out our first Sergeant and was able to execute perfect convey operation to Fort Dix without missing our SP time. She was able to overcome obstacles of poor planning by our leadership and complete the task without taking credit for it. SFC Branch is such a person who has passion, and she is always excited about her work. She is still learning and growing as a leader and helping those around her to win and be successful.
SFC Branch has uncanny ability to see around the corners and her ability to gauge the future and anticipate the problem and be prepared to address the changes. During our Annual training, last year, she was able to plan training when our first sergeant traning plan did not martialize. She was able to gather resources and made sure all the soldiers received excellent training. A few years back, during our Cyber Blitze Anuall traning, our Command Post of the Future (CPOF) SFC Branch was able to switch to acetate map overlay was able to brief guest visitors and they did not even suspect that CPOF was not also functioning. This is one of an example that SFC Branch demonstrates her ability to see around the corners and anticipated what some of us did not expect.
One thing that I learned from SFC Branch is her ability to adapt to changes and not lose her focus. To make change more palatable, she always made sure everyone around her knew and were aware of how to react to changes. I met many "change agents," but we know the real deal when we discover someone who responds fearlessly in the face of the unknown(welch, 2005).
SFC Branch is that "change agent." SFC Branch is a person who sees the opportunities in a disaster even if someone's poor planning brings them. SFC Branch strategy is straight forward. She keeps it very simple and implements it like hell. It reminds me of a quote by Jack Welch, " if you want to win, when it comes to strategy, ponder less, and do more.” I do not think anyone else is more suitable for this quote than SFC Branch. SFC Branch relentlessly seeks out the opportunity to create a positive environment and foster esprit de corps. She executes this by look both inside and outside of our unit, and she is always seeking to find a better way or a better idea to make mission successful and avoids unnecessary risk. I've seen her less time evaluating and more time mentoring and building trust in the subordinates.
SFC Branch is one of those NCOs that always perform beyond all expectations. She continuously expands her Job in such a way that not only she makes look subject good, but the leadership also looks better. She manages her subordinates in such a way that when someone asks them about her, they will say that she is fair and cares, and she is willing to show tough love.
In my view, SFC Branch has conveyed six attributes of the army leadership that leaves long-lasting legacies in people mind, and NCO like me can emulate and improve my Army Leadership skills.
First, SFC Branch keeps her soldiers engaged. She does this setting organizational boundaries that enable high involvement, and she does this by setting a clear vision of where her platoon and whole company needs to go. SFC Branch does this by explaining why. I think she does this because when soldiers understand why a decision is made, they are in a better position to deal with any changes and be resourceful enough to decide the best way to work towards fulfilling mission.
Second SFC Branch Is always soldier focused and available to help. SFC Branch becomes a mother to a baby boy. I remember texting her with a question regarding the upcoming drill weekend. She promptly replies with the solution, and later, she followed up with about how the drill weekend went. This shows me that she cared and demonstrated her interest in my success and shows me that she is genuinely invested in my development. SFC Branch is an active leader not only because she accomplishes what she set out to do, but does so with the help of others. She always provides guidance and leads others toward success; this is true in my development as an NCO.
Third, SFC Branch is an example of a true leader. A leader who instills purpose, direction, morals, values, passion subordinate as well as her peers. When I was struggling to come up traning plan for my platoon she sat down with me and gave me the resources to come up with training plan that fulfills our company training requirements and help us exceed our expectation during Panther Strike exercise.
Forth SFC Branch is known to set the environment for the whole company performance to flourish as a result of soldiers' performance. She accomplishes this by outlining clear expectations, ensuring the subordinate and peers have all the resources available for soldiers to accomplished their Job. Last year right before Kosovo deployment, she scheduled foundry training for Humint soldiers to go and refresh their report writing skills, and due to this particular traning, Humint soldiers were able to perform at a very high level and be able to complete given task during deployment successfully.
Fifth, SFC Branch used uncertainty to inspire her subordinates. I've seen SFC Branch create a traning opportunity during cyber Blitze in 2016 Annual traning. When CPOF went down, Instead of stumbling, she immediately used blunder as an opportunity to teach soldiers how to prepare map overlay full-filling critical task 113-579-5060 from the METL task. I think that is innovation in Motion. I believe that is a perfect example of her Intellect and her Mental agility.
Sixth Attributes I admired about SFC Branch is that she gives feedback to all of her soldiers. She makes an effort to share feedback immediately and not let the unresolved question linger. I personally really like this attribute about her. I always saw her give good and sometimes not so pleasant feedback to her sub. I believe that the desire to improve is something we all want, and if the input helps your subordinate improve, then that is our contribution to bettering the unit and Army as a whole and strengthen our fighting abilities. SFC Branch is a leader who not only aspires for more but also did more to create transfer legacy that soldiers remember and espouse.
SFC Branch transfers her knowledge, expertise, and lessons learned onto newcomers leaders to raise the bar on the leadership.
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