(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — As stewards of our Army profession, we are trusted by the American people to accomplish today’s missions while preparing for tomorrow’s challenges. As leaders it is imperative that we develop ourselves and develop others to continue to uphold our standards, values and ethics. Our individual actions and choices have direct impacts on both the culture and climate of our organizations. Our efforts, or lack thereof, can have lasting effects on generations of Soldiers, families and civilians.

We have field training exercises, ranges and Combat Training Center rotations to build our tactical and technical expertise. But we must first remember to develop our moral foundation. Character is essential.

Change starts with engaged leadership. No matter what techniques we use to develop ourselves or others — counseling sessions, leader professional development seminars or courses — the most important thing we can do is truly know and care for one another. Having regular, face-to-face interactions with our battle buddies and subordinates help us to understand one another’s history, plans and current challenges. We must listen, understand and help each other achieve our goals. When we listen, we must listen to every voice, not just of those who have similar life experiences. Seek out and engage individuals with diverse viewpoints and backgrounds to improve our teams and our Army. When we are not engaged and do not show dignity and respect to our teammates, there will be hurtful and harmful effects to service members, families and units.

Caring, consistent, engaged leadership improves readiness. Communicate to those in your care and on your teams. Show interest in them as people and professionals. This is our Army. This is our profession. Let’s own it, steward it and commit to making improvements toward a stronger, more inclusive and ready Army.

Victory starts here — victory through skill.