Learning to lead
March 28, 2013
What makes a great leader is a subject that has been debated for decades, but what has not been debated is the Army's ability to produce them. With household names of former Army leaders like Gen. "Stormin'" Norman Schwarzkopf and Lt. Gen. George "Old-Blood-and-Guts" Patton, it is easy to forget about the leaders the Army is still producing today.
Some 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers from the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade recently took the time to reflect on what they have learned from their leaders as well as what it means to be a leader in the U.S. Army while attending the brigade's Talon Academy.
The academy is a week-long course that consists of various activities designed to prepare the Soldiers of 2nd CAB for their first formal leadership training -- Warrior Leader's Course. In addition to the numerous classes they take in the course the students also learn how to conduct in-ranks inspections and physical training using hands-on training.
Pfc. Mark A. Jones, an avionic mechanic assigned to Company D, 2nd Aviation Battalion (Assault), 2nd Aviation Regiment, originally from Burrowsville, Va., was one of the Soldiers who attended the training.
"It raised my confidence a lot. I learned that everyone is scared the first time they step in front of a formation," said Jones.
Although the academy is their first formal experience with leadership training, Soldiers begin learning about leadership as soon as they enter the Army. Their leaders have a direct effect on their view of a good leader.
"My leaders in my civilian job, before joining the Army, were not that mature and didn't really trust you to accomplish tasks on your own," said Jones. "But I have learned since joining the Army that to be a good leader you must be willing to trust and listen to the Soldiers below you."
Recognizing the qualities of a good leader will assist one in becoming a good leader, said another Soldier in the academy.
"The qualities I think is necessary to be a great leader would be for him or her to be caring, understanding and be accountable to their Soldiers," said Spc. Michael Hanspard, a food service specialist assigned to Company E, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, originally from Songtan, South Korea.
While many of the Soldiers attending the training have not yet taken the big step into the ranks of the noncommissioned officer corps, they already have strong feelings about what they can bring to the table and what the opportunity means to them.
"I know that I would bring compassion, communication and understanding because I dealt with a lack of communication since joining the Army," said Hanspard. "When I am an NCO, these are the things that I want correct so my future Soldiers won't have an ineffective leader."
Even after leaving the Army, the lessons on what is a leader and what is qualities to empower will benefit these Soldiers in their civilian careers.
"Since I joined the Army, I have learned how to be a stronger leader and a better communicator. Those qualities are valued everywhere," said Hanspard.
"With the drawdown in Afghanistan, the shifting of focus to the Pacific and shrinking of the armed forces, it is these future leaders that will be essential to maintain our readiness in the future," said Staff Sgt. Brett R. Bazaar, an instructor at the academy. "The leadership values these Soldiers learn and internalize will be what will shape our future not only as an Army but as a nation."