Get promoted in the Army by standing out from the crowd | - Leader Development for Army Professionals

Get promoted in the Army by standing out from the crowd

When you first come into the service, getting promoted seems easy. You do your job, and when you have enough time in service, you make E-2, then E-3. But sooner or later, it seems that you get stalled out. Your boss keeps recommending other people for promotion, but not you. What’s the deal? You’re just as good as they are, maybe even better. So how do you get out of this rut?

Learn to stand out from the crowd and get noticed.

Learn to stand out from the crowd and get noticed.

Just meeting the criteria for promotion is not good enough. You have to be above the standard if you want to get promoted. Average performance and enough time in grade just doesn’t cut it. Take the first step by volunteering for additional responsibility. When your boss says he needs someone to __________(you fill in the blank), even if it’s a crappy job, raise your hand and say, “Sergeant, I’ll do it.” Your pals may poke fun at you, but you have to show the boss that you are willing to do more for the team.

Teamwork is what it’s all about in the military. When you make yourself more of an asset to the team, you make the team more successful. Start by training yourself to max regular skills tests, such as physical fitness (APFT) and marksmanship. Get a military driver’s license. If you already have one, get qualified on every vehicle in your unit. Sometimes getting qualified on larger vehicles may take time, so take the initiative to learn everything about the vehicles in your unit and practice performing preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) on them. Start by reading the manuals and getting smart on the parts and terms. You will find that once you start learning, other Soldiers and NCOs will be willing to show you, especially since this means they can call on you for help when they need it. If they aren’t willing to help you learn, find someone else who is. In addition to vehicles, get qualified on every weapon in your unit.

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posted on 10/14/2011 under Articles
Jo B. Rusin is a retired soldier, who spent the majority of her career in Regular Army troop units from platoon leader to commander of a support brigade in the Gulf War. As a combat service support soldier, Jo B. served in units composed of both men and women from all racial and ethnic groups. She is a strong believer in the ability of soldiers to succeed, regardless of whether they are men or women or where they came from. Jo B. is the author of a number of military leadership books, including Move Out: The Insider's Guide for Military Leaders; Move to the Front: The Classic Guide for Military Women; and Women on Your Team: A Man's Guide to Leading Women.

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  • Part-Time-Commander


    This is some great advice Jo. The best leaders are mavericks. They don’t worry what other people think. They set trends, they don’t follow trends. Every great leader I’ve ever worked for did things differently than most other leaders. I tried to follow the same advice when I became a leader. I can truly tell you that it makes a world of difference.

    If you do what everyone else does, you will get what everyone else does. Don’t be part of the 90%. Instead, join the 10%. There’s always room at the top.

    • Preston


      I feel like that sentiment holds up very well in all aspects of life. In fact, doing something differently than the way other people are doing it is often what makes you a leader in the first place.

      If you have a better way to do something, do it. Others will catch on. The best way to improve a process is to go for it!

  • Preston


    Great practical tips that Soldiers can use TODAY to improve their promotion potential. Thanks, Jo!

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