Q&a | AskTOP.net - Leader Development for Army Professionals

Guest Post By SGM Thomas D. Clementson Leadership is an Investment.

I was a good supervisor but I shortchanged many of these people because I was shortsighted. I know better now.

To be the kind of leader I want to be requires much more investment in our subordinates and in ourselves. A supervisor can follow organizational doctrine and be successful but a good mentor has to open many more doors to increase their knowledge and arm themselves with useful tools they can leverage to develop their people beyond professional acumen.

We all have dreams and are eager for someone to believe and invest in those dreams. Many of the young people I’ve encountered have goals that take them beyond a stint or two with the Army, and from a big picture perspective it is more than okay. There are only a finite number of senior positions for our young people to work toward and it is a highly competitive climb.

posted on 10/20/2014 under Articles, Site News
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  • facebook_ronald.l.nelsonjr


    It’s been a while since I have been to Asktop.net, but something inside me said I should check up on the website. I was surprised to see an article on Leadership, it’s not that I wouldn’t expect an article on the topic, it’s more that I had discussed the importance of Leadership and Mentorship with our unit and this article touched on a lot of the things I have planned for my NCODP later this month.

    SGM Clementson start his article talking about leaders that lead by the book, they do everything that the Army and their Commanders ask of them, but don’t quite connect to their Soldiers. I have several young leaders in my Reserve unit that are just like that. They do the counselings they are told to do; they make sure all their Soldiers check all the blocks to ensure they are off our “nasty gram lists” and then forget about the Army until the Commander or First Sergeant calls with the next list. While these types of leaders are not bad, I feel they lose connection with their Soldiers, and each generation of Leaders becomes less and less connected.

    Investing in your leadership and mentoring your subordinates is becoming more and more rare (or at least in the Army Reserves) and I like the method that that SGM Clementson discussed in this article. When you take the time to show your Soldiers that you are invested in them, it shows in their investment in the Army. When I PCS’d to my current unit I heard many times from leaders and Soldiers within the unit “Well I use to be motivated or I used to care, but I feel like the leadership doesn’t care about me.” I will be honest; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had to take a step back and look at how the NCO and Officer were conducting business and it turned out that all the NCO’s were just checking the box, making sure their Soldiers were on the “nasty gram list” then checking out. I couldn’t believe it; I started to talk to the Soldiers and the NCOs to figure out why things were the way they were. Come to find out, like the Soldiers they were leading now, they too didn’t receive any kind of mentorship or guidance. When it came time for them to step up, they were told, these are your people, these are your lists, make sure your Soldiers are good to go. Because the Leaders before them didn’t invest in them, they didn’t know how to invest in their Soldiers when it became their turn to lead.

    So where do we go from here? SGM Clementson’s plan is a good start, sit down with your Soldiers, figure out who they are, what they like, where they want to be, and then help them achieve their goals, but don’t forget to achieve your goals too. This was an excellent article and I hope that all the leaders that read it take stock, if you are one of these leaders that just follow the book and check the block, try new things, like SGM Clementson said, you have to play to your strengths, but you should also work on your shortfalls, and in mentorship is your shortfall, try out some new ideas. – SSG Nelson

    • SGM Tom Clementson


      SSG Nelson – Looks to me like you’re off to a good start with your new unit simply by making some keen observations on the climate. While we often cannot change the pieces we might like, we can influence much simply by doing what we know is right. In situations like the one you described I’ve taken a couple of approaches that seem to work. First, create systems that make meeting the command’s requirements more efficient. The time you’re able to save give you the bandwidth to go the extra mile in mentoring your troops. Second – once you’ve started mentoring at the individual level and have a better understanding of who your people really are – look for ways to develop the whole team. The team should have a vision and understand who they are collectively – you can drive that within your team but their input is important. It should be based on not only who they are but the command’s priorities and mission. When you are able to nest these things everyone will be able to execute based on the commander’s intent, coupled with their individual and collective strengths. You’ll find that this inclusive approach will not only serve as an azimuth for your troops, but gives them buy-in that keeps the machine running in an absence of guidance or during a crisis. Too often we discount what our Soldiers can teach us – a missed opportunity in every case.

    • Mark Gerecht


      SSG Nelson,
      Thanks for your feedback and support of ASKTOP.net We are always looking to help folks grow as leaders. If you would like to share your experience and lessons learned please consider writing an article for ASKTOP.net!

      Thanks Again

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