Former President John Quincy Adams once said that when individuals can easily influence others to believe, self- educate, take initiative, and excel, theyre considered leaders. Encouraging others to believe in themselves motivates them to build the confidence necessary to follow their aspirations and capitalize on their abilities. To touch bases with higher learning, self-development is required. Taking initiative and making the necessary strides to achieve excellence sets the pathway for so a person can reach their full potential and increase their level of growth. Finally, leading by example sets the tone in the approach of mentoring. Defining, for oneself, what a leader is and how to become a more successful one is an important step to maximize the potential for growth, allowing one to become a mentor to those around them.
All leaders begin by following, at which point they are shaped by those who lead them. A leader does not gain the knowledge and skill right out the gate, but rather, a leader is led into that position. A competent leader learns to make the tough decisions to complete the mission, even in the absence of orders. This position is so vital, it can either make or break the Army as a whole. Righteous leaders make righteous followers, and toxic leaders make toxic followers. As a follower, you have to seek out a person that can motivate you to go beyond your limits. Developing such traits as judgment and work ethic, along with gathering the positives and learning from the negative traits of one’s own previous leaders, can make a Soldier a leader.
All leaders are tasked to fulfill three competencies: lead, develop, and achieve. Decision-making is what sets leaders apart from the followers, along with the application of a strong work ethic. Correct decision-making separates the good leaders from those who need a bit more practice. The decisions that are wise and precise to the mission are influential to the next generation, because the next generation is always watching for someone to emulate. A competent leader empowers subordinates to improve their own deficiencies and learn to observe to learn from the mistakes of others. Work ethic entails the resiliency that a superior displays in ensuring the completion of a task. This hard work demonstrates the ability to make decisions under high duress when necessary, or it means listening and applying manpower as ordered. A good leader works along with their Soldiers, allowing them to identify deficiencies in process in a manner that cannot be done from the outside looking in. The ability to do these things ensures one will fulfill the achievement competency of leadership.
While all leaders face challenges, the important thing is learning from mistakes and overcoming those challenges through leadership attributes and characteristics. A leader must invest their time into improving their self-development and self-educating. Character, presence and intellect are key components to becoming a leader. Having the character of a leader compels others to listen and follow someone with respect, even when their rank may not warrant assigned authority.
Confidence plays a large role in character, as one cannot persevere while remaining calm and composed without that confidence. Presence, like being with your Soldiers during the good and bad times and showing them that no one is above the tough times, builds that loyalty between a leader and their subordinates. Having military bearing, being physically fit, being confident, and displaying resilience are all contributing factors for presence. Intellect involves improving one’s mind to build mental agility, innovation, correct judgement, and form the skills necessary to solves workplace conflicts and help one’s Soldier with their intrapersonal and interpersonal concerns. With mental agility comes a natural ability to solve problems. Combined, these components serve as the basis for a leader from which they can learn to be more successful and develop their subordinates to do the same.
Leadership begins with being a follower, and a future leaders knows how to take in the successes of those appointed above them to craft a style that can empower them and maximize their leadership potential. When crafting one’s style, the ability to make decisions must be a consideration because this skill sets leaders apart from their subordinates. A follower must trust their superior, above any individual. Character, presence, and intellect are the attributes of a leader, and, from these attributes, a future leader can build their style. With consideration for the leader competencies, a follower can learn to provide purpose to other Soldiers, motivate them, and direct them to accomplish any mission given, making them a successful leader.