COMPASSION LEADERSHIP
BY: Mr. Andre L. Revell II

This article is part of a Leadership Series to showcase our units and leaders who are excelling.

ARLINGTON, Va. - As missions change, technology is modernized, and global alliances and partnerships are strengthened, the Army's greatest asset remains the same: its people. Soldiers and civilians living and leading by the Army values have been and will always remain the number one component to the Army's success. The responsibility to defend our nation requires a commitment by all to treat everyone with respect, collaborate broadly and always do the right thing. This is paramount to leaders responsible for providing the highest level of care, support and advocacy for our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.

The Fort Stewart Warrior Transition Battalion, led by its Commander, Lt. Col. Michael Hicks, has established a strong reputation of respect, collaboration and quality support among its Soldier population and workforce. The leadership attributes their success to a unique leadership style that can be summed up in two words.

"The phrase is 'compassion leadership.' You must be able to lead your Soldiers and staff with the same care and compassion you would have with your own family," says Headquarters Company 1st Sgt. Bryant Gray.

Compassion leadership begins with collaboration. In order to deliver the best quality care to Soldiers, leadership must leverage the talent, education and institutional knowledge already available within their command. Within the WTB, as with most Army organizations, these are commonly found in the civilian staff. By soliciting input from the civilians, the leadership has been able to make informed decisions while establishing a relationship of trust with its existing staff.

"Civilians are an invaluable contribution to the mission, command and overall success of the WTB. Smart WTB commanders leverage their civilian cadre. Without this relationship, leadership is doomed to struggle and/or fail to provide the best quality care to our Soldiers and their Families. The same way NCOs are the backbone of the Army, civilians are the backbone of the WTB," says Col. Matthew St Laurent, U.S. Army Medical Command Deputy Chief of Staff for Warrior Care and Transition.

Army G-1's approach to workforce development has been the cornerstone of the Fort Stewart WTB's success. "You want the right individual, it's all about talent management," says Alpha Company 1st Sgt. Michael Thompson. "You want someone who has things to bring to the table but they're also a sponge when it comes to the knowledge," he added.

Talent represents far more than the training, education and experiences provided by the Army. It includes, the fullness of each individual's life experience.

"Working in the WTB requires the right work ethic. I hired a [National Guard] Soldier who works as a guidance and marriage counselor in his civilian job, which has really paid off especially in our hard cases," says Critical Care Unit 1st Sgt. Johnny Goenen. "His ability to counsel certain Soldiers, has really allowed us to smooth a lot of things over."

Having a commander with the right skills, knowledge and behaviors has proven to be effective at the WTB. "We have a good balance of the medical mindset and combat mindset in our commands, but our ability to keep the mission medically focused has proven effective," said Alpha Company Commander Capt. Aaron Williams.

Having Commanders who are dedicated to the mission and care of their Soldiers is a priority at the WTB.

"Growing up through your commissioning source you're always told 'Mission first, Soldiers always.' Here our mission is Soldiers," says Headquarters Company Commander Capt. Joseph Carothers. "This makes it really easy to care because there are no other competing priorities."

As 1st Sgt. Goenen stated, "Soldiers don't care about what you know, until they know that you care." Compassion leadership is a blend of the right talent, collaboration and a genuine belief in the mission. With this combination, an organization, its people and its mission can be successful.