Communicating the Culture of Leadership
82nd Sustainment Brigade commander, Col. Christopher J. Sharpsten

Fort Lee, VA-- The 82nd Sustainment Brigade is charged with the mission of supporting the XVIII Airborne Corps and 82nd Airborne Division in its execution of the Global Response Force and must be ready at a moment's notice to translate the intentions of command into action by aligning resources behind a common goal. Brigade commander, Col. Chris Sharpsten believes it's essential for the brigade to infuse every team member with his vision, goals and expected results in order for the unit's diverse mission set to be successful.

Col. Sharpsten recently shared his beliefs in leadership with the graduating logisticians of the Captains Career Course 12-005 at the Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Va. Col. Sharpsten and a panel of command teams built from the 659th Maintenance Company, 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the 249th Quartermaster Company, 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, met to discuss the essential qualities of leadership and how they are made to permeate through the leadership of the 82nd Sustainment Brigade. The graduates listened intently to Col. Sharpsten as he articulated the culture of leadership in the 82nd Sustainment Brigade.

The program began with Col. Sharpsten introducing the graduates to three rules of leadership. These rules form the foundation of his leadership style and are taught to all of the brigade's incoming officers. These rules are: 1) when in charge, take charge, 2) find problems and solve problems, and 3) audaciously execute your commander's intent.

"When in charge, take charge" is a rule of leadership that highlights the importance of never abandoning one's leadership responsibilities. Effective leadership requires that a leader encourage an expression of opinion from team members, but reserve the sole right to make the decision, especially when faced with adversity.

"Find problems and solve problems" is a rule of leadership that highlights the importance of being proactive and anticipatory. Effective leadership requires that a leader act diligently to assess a situation and act deliberately to solve conflicts.

"Audaciously execute your commander's intent" is a rule of leadership that highlights the importance of having a passionate commitment to the success of the mission. Effective leadership requires that a leader never waver from accepting and promoting the vision of the team and remain undaunted when faced with adversity.

In addition to Col. Sharpsten's address, the program provided a two-hour question-and-answer period. The leadership panel fielded a wide range of questions from the graduates, from how to interview for a company command position to handling shortage annexes in change-of-command inventories. The two most compelling questions were: 1) "what are the best attributes of a company commander?" and 2) "what are the command's most challenging difficulties?"

The leadership panel responded to the first question with a list of attributes that included being confident yet humble, having a clear vision of your command, being "up-front" and visible, and genuinely caring for the well-being of your Soldiers.

The response to the second question the leadership panel stated was that there will always be challenges to overcome and problems to solve, each requiring a different solution. Always be prepared to weigh the facts of the situation and execute the commander's intent. The session concluded with a small group discussion on the importance of empowering subordinates to do their jobs.

As the Army continues to downsize, Col. Sharpsten recognizes the importance of receiving more output from less resources within the 82nd Sustainment Brigade. He is confident that the rules of leadership emphasized under his command will maximize productivity in future operations and mature leaders of all ranks to accomplish a variety of mission sets, anytime, anywhere.

Page last updated Thu November 29th, 2012 at 00:00