News: Creating great leaders
Story by Staff Sgt. Teresa Gonzalez
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - As a Platoon Sergeant I understand that leaders are not born, leaders are made. Therefore, it is my responsibility to make "Leaders" out of my junior non-commissioned officers. I recognize that well-trained and knowledgeable Soldiers operate more efficiently and are more agile, enabling the Soldier to seize promotional opportunities and to successfully navigate the rank system. Soldiers with talent and leadership skills are becoming even scarcer resources than ever before; and this is why we (senior leaders) must teach our lower enlisted Soldiers the qualities required for a leadership position.
The Casualty Liaison Team mission is to provide accurate casualty information (reporting and tracking) in a timely manner at the 10th Combat Sustainment Hospital, as well as assist the commander in keeping accurate casualty statistics throughout the course of company operations. They also act as a liaison for each affected commander providing status reports to the affected unit and inform the unit if the Soldier leaves the theater.
In addition to their number one mission of Casualty Operations the 2/623rd Team, from the Illinois National Guard, serves an integral part of the overall 271st Human Resources Company mission. Although the main focus of the team is to submit Defense Casualty Information Processing System reports, compile casualty data, and submit it in a timely manner; we are responsible for various unit requirements that are essential to mission accomplishment.
In a simple strategy, I have assigned individual tasks to each one of my Soldiers; tasks that are concurrent with our chain of command requirements. The 271st Human Relations Co., 10th Sustainment Brigade Troops Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade requires that we conduct training, have a unit safety officer, perform sensitive Items reporting, conduct Army Physical Fitness Tests, and keep up with leadership development.
By giving ownership of a task to a Soldier, the Soldier will have the ability to create a plan of action, affords them the flexibility to solve problems, as well as gives them more responsibility and holds them accountable. Furthermore, the Soldiers implement their ideas and creativity, where they will start recognizing their strengths and weaknesses at an early stage in their careers.
Sgt. Craig Smith, a native of Springfield, Ill., is the non-commissioned officer in charge of the team. He is responsible for conducting monthly counselings for all the lower enlisted Soldiers on the team. He makes an assessment of strengths and weaknesses and provides feedback on things to sustain and areas that may need improvement in their skills and abilities.
Sgt. Matthew Jochums, a Springfield, Ill., native, is a Squad Leader for the platoon. He is responsible for the overall training of the team. Jochums implements training subjects as required by higher. He arranges the time and the place in addition to ensuring that the information is adequate and presentable. He is allowed to implement the training in whichever way he feels comfortable without compromising the integrity of the information.
Spc. Michael Snyder from Springfield, Ill., is the safety non-commissioned officer for our section. He conducts weekly inspections of the Soldiers' quarters to ensure that no violations are taking place. He specifically looks for electrical hazards, welfare standards, and anything else that could possibly cause an unsafe environment for the Soldier. Snyder has created his own tracking system, and ensures to communicate updates as they come down from our supporting elements.
Spc. Christopher Mesey, a native of Carland, Ill., is the sensitive Items NCO. Masey completes weekly inspections of our weapons, pro-masks, and other sensitive items as required. In addition, he has also arranged for weapons qualification ranges, allocating the place, time, and ammo as needed. He has an ability to make things happen with little supporting systems, making him an outstanding asset to our team.
Spc. John Russell, from Fairbury, Ill., is my APFT Training NCO. He is responsible for implementing APFT schedules tailored to individual needs. He assists Soldiers with nutritional information according to dining facility's standards for those who need it. Russell makes the APFT schedule for testing and provides assistance during testing as needed.
This simple talent management solution may sound "too simple," for some, but in reality it takes a lot of succession planning. Succession planning provides a systematic approach for leaders to identify, assess, and develop Soldiers to ensure they are prepared to assume critical roles in the future. As a Senior Leader, this strategy allows me to see them in action, constantly observing, communicating, making on the spot corrections, and setting a standard of leadership requirements.