KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The U.S. Army is undoubtedly an ever-changing organization – made up of soldiers who pride themselves on their ability to adapt, overcome and defeat any obstacle they are faced with.
The soldiers who make up our organization are held to that standard. We are trained to always have situational awareness and know our surroundings.
As the “backbone of the Army,” the NCO corps is expected to coach, train and mentor their soldiers, as well enforce those standards and uphold the fact that any given situation can change at the drop of a hat.
With those obstacles comes a lot of change, something that is a constant within the Army.
Even though things may change, the goal is always the same; the accomplishment of the mission, whatever it may be.
To accomplish that mission, NCOs, to include myself, must not only understand the landscape, objectives and key points within the mission, but we must also know the soldiers we oversee who are tasked with completing that mission.
We receive new soldiers in our units all the time, either fresh from training or as transfers from other units.
When this occurs, it is important that we remember that even though the most notable change is a couple of new faces within your formation, those new soldiers are different than the ones we had before.
While all soldiers are expected to follow and obey the same rules and regulations within the Army and their respective units, how we motivate Soldiers to accomplish the mission and adhere to those standards must change with each individual Soldier.
Even within those black and white rules are certain expectations each NCO has for their assigned soldiers.
We are not their grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers or friends. However, we, as NCOs, should adapt some of the traits of those roles when training and mentoring our soldiers.
Grandparents are looked at as wise and respected elders – trusted people whose experiences and stories provide you with priceless, sage advice.
Whether your know it or not, your soldiers often look to you like they do their grandparents.
You are their elder; and while you may be younger than them, you, as an NCO, have proven that you have experiences in your Army career that can benefit their growth and maturity as a Soldier and a person.
Much like our grandparents, not everything you say or do is going to be understood at the time, but it is your job as an NCO to share that experience and wisdom with your subordinates, so they can use it as they progress in their careers and enable them to make positive decisions.
Mothers and fathers are looked as the heads of the household. As an NCO, you should embody that concept. You make sure they follow the rules, and when they don’t, they know you are going to find out and take corrective action.
You are the voice of reason, and while everything you say may not be liked, they should know that you do and say certain things because you care about their growth as Soldiers.
A soldier may look up to you as an older brother or sister. While you are not “buddy-buddy” with them, they know they can turn to you in times of need, especially when others do not understand, and that you will help guide them.
An older brother or sister sets the example, and provides a role model within your own “family” to look up to.
Like all families, you see each other at your best and worst. Like family, though, your Soldiers should be comfortable enough to laugh around you and share common interests.
NCO-subordinate relationships are often dynamic and complex.
People switch units, change stations or separate from the Army, all of which make establishing and maintaining these relationships challenging.
All NCOs, from a sergeant to sergeant major, have soldiers they supervise and counsel who report directly to them. It’s important for NCOs to have soldiers who trust and respect them as leaders.
If a soldier isn’t comfortable coming to his or her leader in confidence, someone he or she should look up to and trust, then what good are we as NCOs?
With every soldier we see, it is our job as NCOs to figure out how to efficiently handle and mentor each individual subordinate we have throughout our Army careers.
Some may need more of a grandparent figure.
Some may respond more to a fatherly- or motherly-figure.
And some may just need someone to talk to.
All soldiers however, need a little bit of each.
We must find the best way to get through to our soldiers, adapting our leadership style to suit the Soldier and situation, when necessary.
If we fail to effectively adapt, then we as NCOs have failed our mission.
Our soldiers must follow the rules, but will only do so if we set the example.
Every soldier we have has a different background and personality, and will respond differently to your leadership style.
Each soldier cannot be motivated in the same manner. While all soldiers must adhere to one set standard, we, as NCOs, must find the most effective way to guide each individual soldier as a means to accomplish the overall mission.
Doing so will ultimately instill trust, increase esprit de corps and strengthen overall morale amongst your soldiers – this, inherently, leads to mission success.
We are the “backbone of the Army,” and our jobs are to provide structure, support and guidance for our subordinates so that we meet our commander’s intent and accomplish whatever task we are assigned.
The role we play as NCO’s is of the upmost importance; a role that should be taken seriously and professionally.
By effectively adapting our mentorship and guidance to our subordinates, we do just that.
||KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AF
||FORT CARSON, CO, US
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||JEFFERSON CITY, MO, US
This work, Get the most out of each individual Soldier – an NCO’s job, by SGT Clay Beyersdorfer, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.