[January 6, 2021] Working with great leaders brings many advantages, not all of which are directly related to learning how to think and act appropriately. First, as an enlisted soldier and then as an officer, I was able to see leadership from two different perspectives. In my opinion, the U.S. military is the best place to observe and learn from leaders. Today’s article is about what I believe are the best traits are for new, incoming Army Officers.
Yesterday’s article on 5 of the Worst Traits in New Army Officers was written to help junior-level leaders see what senior leaders see in them. By providing this list, anyone can compare their daily routines and look into their immediate future to see where they stand in the eye of a more experienced leader.
I could give a counterpoint to each of yesterday’s “worst” traits, and this would have been sufficient. Using those as a starting point, I’ll move into other areas for us to consider. Here are a few thoughts about what new Army officers bring that are their best traits:
- Trustworthiness: If I can’t trust you, I can’t follow you. A fundamental requirement for any organization or group’s success is for trust to be built and maintained. Without it, nothing will be accomplished to advance the interests of those individuals inside. An unfortunate trend in America has been the decline of trustworthiness and, consequently, the advancement of lawyers and detailed contracts, where a handshake in the past would suffice.
- Positive and Outgoing Attitude: It should come as no surprise that those leaders with an uplifting attitude attract others to them. Their likability factor is high. Their ability to attract people to them is measured, in part, by the conviviality. There’s an old love song by the Beach Boys titled “Good Vibrations” (see link for YouTube video, 4:23 minutes) that touches on this same theme; that we are naturally attracted to those that are good for us.
- Caring: Win their hearts and you will win all battles. U.S. Marine General Jim Mattas once said that “As an officer, you need to win only one battle – for the hearts of your troops. Win their hearts, and they will win the fights.” This similar to the great Chinese General/Philosopher Sun Tzu, who wrote the Art of War. When people know you are vested in them as a person, their development and well-being, dreams, and families, you are connected to their souls.
- Makes sound and timely decisions: Based on relevant experiences and quality training, new officers frequently lack this trait. However, I have found that those who exercise common sense, have a good moral sense of who they are, and understand people will do well in making sound and timely decisions. It is justifiable to put this trait on my list regardless of its level of difficulty. Good leaders are those that are always stretching themselves. It requires a degree of wisdom, intellect, and knowledge of your weaknesses and strengths.
- Reaching their Souls: Money, prestige, and comfort are unimportant to those who have their souls captured by great leaders. Only those who are genuinely great can reach into the souls of others. Indeed, part of this ability means showing that they care, are competent, and have the conviction to do well. A leader that can show that he knows what he is doing, demonstrates a real caring for his people, and will stand up for them, is the one who can capture their hearts.