'Leadership Is Inspiring The Best In Others'
January 22, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- From his first day as a young enlistee in the Army, Command Sgt. Maj. James Sims viewed his military experience as a journey in leadership, discipline, preparation and opportunity.
For 30 years, the Army has fulfilled that young Soldier's expectations in ways that built on his dedication and passion for serving the nation as a non-commissioned officer. Now, as the new command sergeant major for the Army Materiel Command, Sims is ready for the challenges, opportunities and experiences that come with serving as the senior enlisted Soldier at AMC and Redstone Arsenal
And like any good Soldier who knows there's always room for improvement, Sims knows his new role will allow him to build on the leadership philosophy that he began developing all those years ago, and aid AMC commander Gen. Dennis Via in the execution of his vision.
Sims officially assumed the role as AMC's command sergeant major in December, becoming part of a senior management team focused on leading civilians, and middle and senior-level Soldiers. Sims believes that anyone is capable of stepping into leadership roles and creating positive change, just by showing a bit of humility and offering a helping hand.
As a young Soldier, before he ever had a plan to become a command sergeant major, Sims was developing his own brand of leadership. Mirroring the Army's seven core values that fit into the acronym LDRSHIP (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage), Sims developed a philosophy that also fits into the acronym LEADERSHIP -- Loyalty, Engagement, Accountability, Dedication, Empathy, Resilience, Standards always, Humility, Intelligence and Perseverance.
"It is my belief that true leadership has nothing to do with seniority, position or title. Leadership is inspiring the best in others through action, attitude, trust and credibility, and truly igniting the human potential," Sims said.
Sims came to AMC from his assignment as the command sergeant major for the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Va., bringing with him a career that includes serving with the 528th Special Operations Support Battalion (Airborne), 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the 82nd Airborne Division. Sims has served as a command sergeant major for 10 years, and has served in multiple deployments, including tours to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. His awards include a Legion of Merit and a Bronze Star.
"Throughout my entire career, I have never been the type to go to work thinking about my next job. I always went to work focused on doing the best I could at my current job, allowing my actions alone to set the tone for my future," he said.
"Even in September, when I was notified via phone call that I was selected to be the AMC CSM, I never lost focus of my responsibilities to the Army and Fort Lee, even though I was so overcome with excitement that I inadvertently dropped the phone."
Sims went on to say, "this is the level of dedication the AMC workforce can expect out of James K. Sims."
Sims equates the highly technical abilities of the AMC civilian workforce to that of the Army's "superior chief warrant officers who are specialized in their craft."
"Since arriving at AMC, I have been in a constant state of awe with our diverse work force of military and civilians, and what they do for our Soldiers," Sims said. "As a Soldier who has served on multiple deployments, I have a true appreciation for the contributions of the entire AMC team, and utmost respect for the magnitude, impact and extent of services as well as responsibilities AMC has to this great Army and the U.S. force enterprise as a whole."
He is also impressed by the relationship that Redstone Arsenal shares with Huntsville.
"Without a doubt, the community of Huntsville is representative of the Army's goal of the total community concept, of one community one team," Sims said.
"The Redstone Arsenal and Huntsville community relationship is the epitome of the vision instituted by the Army and the Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure commission in combining resources, infrastructure and functionality to establish truly state-of-the-art installations, while also continuing to preserve taxpayer investment dollars."
Sims, an Army logistician by training, is very much serving in a role that affects the way today's Soldiers are led both in peacetime and on the battlefield. He is the commanding general's senior adviser on all enlisted-related matters, primarily focused on the quality of life for Soldiers, civilians and families across the command as well as the training of the non-commissioned officer corps and Soldiers, and tasked with executing the command vision. He provides advice, counsel and guidance to the Soldiers and civilians of AMC and its major subordinate commands, he is a member of the Sergeants Major board of directors, and engages the Army's senior enlisted leaders on AMC strategic themes, objectives and issues.
"As the command sergeant major for AMC, I want to really get out and meet the work force, and understand the challenges from their fox hole, from their perspective," he said.
"I want to tell the story of AMC and the people behind the success of this great organization. I want the Army to meet our diverse workforce; true unsung heroes who selflessly dedicates countless hours to ensuring the safety and readiness of our Soldiers."
Sims has had the privilege of serving in the Old Guard, a special unit responsible for conducting memorial affairs to honor fallen Soldiers as well as ceremonies and events to communicate the Army story to the nation and the world. He has served as a senior enlisted leader for nearly two decades, deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan; and serving Army executive organizations and leaders. Sims' experience gives him the knowledge needed to be a strong contributor in the Army's continuing transformation, and in how that transformation supports both the war fighter, and the combined, joint and coalition forces on the battlefield.
"I believe a person's career is an ongoing balancing act between opportunity and preparation," Sims said. "My way of thinking is you should always be prepared ahead of time in case opportunity presents itself. For any professional, Soldier or civilian, that means being physically fit, learning all that you can, listening to your supervisors and mentors, developing professional relationships, and furthering your education, so that you are ready to insert yourself when opportunities arrive.
"Do the basic things exceptionally well and the door to opportunity will open."
Sims was raised in a military family. His father was a Vietnam veteran and a Purple Heart recipient who brought discipline and structure along with the uniform into the home. Joining the Army at age 17 was easy for Sims.
"I found out more than three decades ago that the Army would be the answer to my call to serve," he recalled. "I understood, because of my relationship with the Army throughout my childhood, that I could make an impact on those I would have the privilege to serve with through the basic premise of my beliefs and the way I was raised. I also knew the Army would have an impact on me, one that I will cherish as long as I live."
During his career, Sims has seen the Army focused on post-Vietnam reconfiguration while still providing trained and equipped Soldiers to answer isolated conflicts; to stand guard in both Eastern Europe and Korea; and to respond to a wide range of battlefield operations in locations such as the Persian Gulf. He has seen the Army's role change, evolve and expand as the "wall" fell in Germany, the Cold War came to an end, and the Global War on Terrorism was executed throughout the world. During this time the U.S. was regularly called on for humanitarian aid in response to international disasters, and technology became a game changer on the battlefield.
"The Army continues to reconfigure, realign, refit and outfit a state-of-the-art force to meet any challenge -- the Army has and continues to evolve and transform to meet our nation's calling," Sims said.
Throughout his Army journey, Sims' diverse experiences and countless mentors have reaffirmed his beliefs, while shaping his proactive, yet humble leadership style.
"No matter how much the Army transforms, the basic principles of Soldiering and the attributes of great leadership will always remain the same," he said.
"A great leader is someone who has a strong foundation in values -- discipline, structure and faith -- and is always learning, always seeking growth, never fearing failure, always being selfless and giving when there's nothing left to give. It is through this basic belief, comes all else: great teams, great leaders, great citizens and a great Army."