Force Development director: Army values worthy of daily discussion
May 30, 2014
By David Vergun
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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 30, 2014) -- A Soldier's day is chock-full of activities, from physical training and inspections, to tactics and job-specific tasks.
Despite busy schedules, Maj. Gen. Robert M. Dyess said he encourages other leaders -- in his case branch or division chiefs -- to spend a few minutes every day in small groups with their Soldiers and civilians, discussing one Army value.
Dyess, who is the director of Force Development, G-8, spoke about values during his opening remarks at the annual Force Management, Functional Area 50 meeting in the Pentagon, Wednesday.
While Functional Area 50 leaders are involved on a daily basis with Title 10 processes, he said the Army is also about people, and values play a big part in shaping the Army as an institution, as much or more so than its budgeting, manning, equipping and training processes.
During a recent training and education week focused on processes, a three-hour block of instruction was devoted to values and ethics. At the time, he admitted to feeling the hours could have been better spent on relevant managerial and operational topics.
But after reflecting on it, Dyess said he had a change of mind, realizing just how important values are to making the Army what it is, namely a values-based organization.
Of all the Army values -- loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage -- Dyess said his own favorite topic for discussion is respect.
"We'd have fewer problems in the Army" like sexual harassment and toxic leadership "if more energy was spent on respect," he said.
By respect, Dyess said he views it more as having empathy for others rather than just sympathy.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno pointed out during a March 28 Pentagon ceremony, marking the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, that he and the sergeant major of the Army spend the majority of their time tackling problems like sexual harassment and other values-gone-wrong issues that a few Soldiers have.
Soldiers usually get an annual PowerPoint course for a couple of hours on values with a certificate that gets added to their personnel records, along with such things as their physical fitness test scores, Dyess remarked.
He said a daily discussion on values would be a lot more beneficial and that discussion would be most effective if everyone in the small group of say, seven or eight, could share their own thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Dyess revealed that he tries to learn lessons on respect and values by observing how other leaders lead. While a good leader is certainly worthy of emulation, he said a lot can be learned as well from a toxic leader, meaning behaviors to avoid in one's own leadership style.
While respect is a favorite value for Dyess, he said Soldiers should pick their own and that each is important.
Last week, Dyess met Retired Gen. Eric Shinseki. former Army Chief of Staff, at an area event and they had a chance to chat.
Dyess said he told Shinseki, "I really looked at you as a personal hero of mine because of the testimony you gave when you were chief of staff, when you were questioned about the force level that should be in Iraq and you essentially told them a much higher number than the Pentagon leadership was saying at the time. That to me was an example of personal courage.
"And, he looked back at me and said 'it was loyalty to the nation,'" Dyess recalled.
When Soldiers leave the service, they bring their Army values with them to civilian organizations where they are hired.
Dyess said six months ago, he got to visit two organizations, Southwest Airlines and ExxonMobil in Dallas, each with different cultures, but each with values similar to the Army.
Southwest was very people-focused, he said, "They were like 'if you don't have fun here, you will get fired.'"
They make their money by keeping the planes on the ground in the fewest minutes possible, he said.
"That's why you'll see pilots from Southwest helping clean the aisles for the attendants and even load baggage, if required, to save time and money," he explained.
You've got to like people and be people-focused to pitch in and do that, he said, pointing out that requires values like respect for others and loyalty to the company.
At ExxonMobil, the structure is less flat than at Southwest and more like the Army's hierarchy of brigades, divisions and corps, he said. For them, the values of duty and integrity come into play as they weigh risk in putting their dollars into research and development and planning out where the company is headed in the next 20 years.
Dyess admitted he'd be a better match with the culture at ExxonMobil, while his daughter, who just finished college, would fit in well with people-oriented Southwest.
Despite a difference in cultures that Soldiers may face one day when they leave the Army, cultures as different as Southwest is from ExxonMobil, Dyess said their Army values will serve them well regardless of where they may land.
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