JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Adding value, promoting the profession, understanding the Army Priorities and experiencing the Army’s history are just a few of the driving forces behind the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Headquarters Battalion's Leader Professional Development program.
“We are doing so much in terms of people; we are sometimes not connected with the big picture and what the Army is doing,” said Maj. Matthew Allen, the battalion executive officer who also oversees the LPD program “We brought the Leader Professional Development program to help increase knowledge about what the Army is doing so that Soldiers feel connected and build their knowledge.”
Soldiers spoke candidly about issues they and their fellow service members face during an LPD session Dec. 9, 2022, focused on “People First,” which is the Army’s top priority.
In addition to the open discussion, the session included a panel of six experts in the areas of mental, spiritual, physical and family health, which Master Sgt. Timothy Fisher calls his ‘People First’ pillars.
“This LPD gave me a good opportunity to think about what “People First” truly means in today's Army. When you consider that we're a peacetime Army for the first time in a long time,” said Fisher, the battalions S1 NCOIC who organized the session. “We can reset our top priorities and look at ways to improve how we take care of our Soldiers, Civilians and Families. While reviewing the Army Chief of Staff's "Army People Strategy," it was obvious that there was heavy emphasis on the health of our minds, our Families, our spirituality and our bodies.”
Throughout the session, the Soldiers in the room shared their own experiences and how they lead with the “People First” mindset.
Fisher says Army leadership has proven their willingness to tackle difficult subjects that tear at the fabric of the force, and this was a great opportunity to have a very candid leader-led discussion about that effort.
Building future leaders
In developing the LPD, Allen says the battalion is building a culture of learning.
“We are incorporating what we are learning in the LPD and reinforcing it in everything our Soldiers do.”
Allen goes on to say that it’s important to give the Soldiers a voice, which was demonstrated during the session.
The battalion’s leadership program strives to balance the needs of the Soldiers with the leadership requirements of the organization, seeking to support their Soldiers’ current and future service in the Army by expanding upon their knowledge about the Army’s Priorities.
“We must invest in our next generation of Soldiers because they are the ones who will make sure we have the best military in the world and continue to fight for Americans and keep our country safe,” said Lt. Col. Jay Bao, Headquarters Battalion commander. “I believe if we, as leaders, do not take the time to teach, coach and mentor then we are forgoing opportunities to cultivate the most powerful and lethal capability our Army has to offer.”
The battalion is taking a holistic, long-term approach with the program, which will not only focus on technical skills, but also leadership soft skills, building trust, shaping positive morale and value systems and improve camaraderie.
Bao believes these are the things that will help individuals be successful not just in the Army but also beyond the Army.
“If done right, the return on investment is exponential in the form of improved lives, relationships, mission capability, resiliency and readiness,” said Bao.
Upcoming themes for the series are readiness, leadership, and trust and respect.
The Headquarters Battalion’s Leadership Professional Development program uses a variety of resources to engage Soldiers such as scheduled programs, guest speakers, off-site learning opportunities and brown bag luncheons with the battalion’s command sergeant major.
The program is also led by the Soldiers themselves, giving them the opportunity to hone their own leadership skills.
In addition, the program also provides opportunities for Soldiers to learn about Army values from those who demonstrate those values best, our nation’s Medal of Honor Recipients.
The Medal of Honor series portion of the program focuses on studying four different recipients each year, but the battalion also seeks out living Medal of Honor recipients to come and speak to the Soldiers.
In the end, the program is about one thing and that is investing in Soldiers, according to Bao.
“Our People are worth the investment because the current and future state of America's freedom and way of life is worth fighting for.”