PENTAGON, Oct. 23, 2020 — The Office of the Army Surgeon General and the U.S. Army Medical Command hold regular leadership seminars to support their Leader Development Program. The goal is to build agile and adaptive leaders for today's environment by sharing the learning, teaching, and personal development experiences of senior leaders.
On Oct. 23, 2020, the leadership series featured Gen. Joseph M. Martin, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, who discussed his perspective on leadership and leader growth. The lecture was delivered virtually.
Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, The Surgeon General of the Army, welcomed the Vice by stating how much Army Medicine values the stories and experience of leaders such as Martin. He thank Martin for taking the time to share his leadership philosophy and experience.
Martin covered the current strategic environment and stated that the nation “expects us to secure this county and that’s what we will continue to do.” We need to carry out our mission essential tasks and warfighting competencies, he said.
Martin talked about the foundation that underpins the entire Army.
“We rely on a foundation of people,” Martin said. “If your foundation is weak, you’ll always be reacting to people problems. People need to be your first priority.”
You have to care for your Soldiers, he said. “Done right, I can tell you, based on watching and personal experience, that you will create a foundation where Soldiers feel part of an organization that is bigger than themselves. They have relationships based on trust, mutual respect and empathy.”
“People are first in the Army,” Martin said, “Officially. In word, in deed, and in resourcing.”
He discussed servant-leadership. How do you truly know your Soldiers, he asked.
You need to be responsible for, instead of in charge of, your Soldiers, he said. “If you build relationships based on trust, mutual respect and empathy, they will know the difference between firm and fair and being toxic.”
“If you don’t know what a toxic environment is, it’s where Soldiers don’t want to come into work. They don’t feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Their leaders don’t motivate them personally — they may motivate them to not do something. All individual initiative is destroyed or significantly degraded.
“Magic happens when you set high standards, give people the freedom to take discipline initiative and demonstrate that you truly care for them,” he said.
Other key points Martin made related to situational awareness. Understanding your surroundings and the ecosystem that exists around you is important so you can lead your team through it.
“Never stop preparing,” he said. “If you think you are going to command a hospital, or part of a hospital, or a medical platoon, you may not have adequate preparation. Always be preparing to provide the best leadership your Soldiers need.”
“Always maintain your humility,” Martin said. He asked the audience to remember two things: there’s a long line of guys who can do your job, and you will be remembered for your humility, no matter how valorous you are.
“The medical enterprise needs to continue to provide quality health care for all of our Soldiers and families,” Martin said, “but you have to be flexible and agile, in the way Army Medicine has this year — able to respond to crises.” In doing so, remember to go back to delivering quality health care to our Solders and families, he said, keeping the medical structure we need to accomplish our mission.
Finally, Martin left the audience with some numbers related to time management: 14, 2, 1 and 7. He admits he is not a workaholic; however, the demands on his time are high, and he tells his staff not to schedule more than 14 hours of his time each day. The 2 is two hours of personal time where he can do what he wants — reading, answering emails, but also non-work-related breaks. The 1 is PT. Finally, the 7 is seven hours of sleep per night.