Leadership and the Patch Ceremony

By | October 4, 2018

[October 4, 2018]  As leaders we often discuss the importance of bringing new people into our organization and helping them adopt the institution’s culture.  Leadership means many things but to accept someone is a part of taking care of them.  The U.S. Army has a patch ceremony that begins this process as a formal recognition that new members of the team are accepted.

New members of any team often feel left out and neglected.  True, they have yet to earn the trust and confidence of other team members and that is to be expected.  For a short article on this see my article from yesterday about earning your spurs and how leaders can use this as a way to better care for their people.

Accepting new people can be difficult.  Many folks look for the negative in others, make judgments without basis, put themselves on a higher moral ground, have an uncaring attitude, or just don’t appreciate the work it takes to bring someone into their organization.  Resistance to this is human.

That is why the Army uses a formal process, through its patch ceremony, to begin to break down the barriers between newcomers and old veterans.  The ceremony is typically held with all members present to witness what is about to take place.  All newcomers are stood facing the larger-number of current members.  The commander then makes a short speech and physically places the patch on their left shoulder.  They are then congratulated.

Of course, accepting newcomers (or strangers) is an ancient idea written in the philosophical texts of sensible men, millennia ago.  The basis of Christianity is to love thy neighbor.  It would be wise for us to listen to this advice and ensure that newcomers are welcomed by us.

“You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feeling of a stranger, for which you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 23:9, the Holy Bible

Leaders who provide a clear pathway for accepting new people into the fold of their organization will find that the practical results have merit.  Welcomed newcomers will integrate faster, be helpful quicker, and become more productive team-members.  That is what leadership is about.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

19 thoughts on “Leadership and the Patch Ceremony

  1. Terri

    I would have to agree that if more organizations did something similar, it would greatly enhance the assimilation of new employees into the existing workforce, thereby increasing acceptance and productivity.

  2. Albert Ayer

    Very good article on something I knew nothing about. Much appreciated.

  3. Bryan Lee

    I would hope that all groups do something like this to encourage new members to be part of the group and to begin the process of being trusted. It is important for leaders to make sure new people are brought in and acclimated as quickly as possible so that they can begin contributing to the group’s mission. I found this in my workplace and I’m sure it’s the same elsewhere. It also is a morale booster! That alone should not be overlooked.

  4. Mark Evans

    My cousin Susan recently joined the US Army and she told me about the patch ceremony she was in when she arrived at her first unit. THere is pride in the patch and it is encouraged; not because it is a piece of cloth but because it symbolizes the bravery and dedication of those who came before them and now they are part of that honored team.

    1. Eddie Ray Anderson,

      Yes, thanks Nick. I never even heard of this before, much less actually saw one. Effective, I’m sure.

  5. José Luis Rodriguez

    There’s always something new or a bright idea that comes up and should be recognized. This is one of them. Good for the army.

  6. Roger Yellowmule

    I was in the US Army for a couple of years, liked my experiences and gained a lot from them. We didn’t have the patch ceremony at that time but we were required to sew on the new patch immediately and to tell out platoon leader what it meant symbolically. Now they use velcro!

    1. Eric Coda

      Same here. Most armies across the world now use patches of some sort to distinguish them from other units. The reasons are multifaceted.

  7. Willie Shrumburger

    Wow, I find that there is a lot of creativity out there and this is one of those that should not go unnoticed. I wonder what the other military services do. I’m sure they haven’t dismissed the patch ceremony as just one method of getting new people to be accepted and (perhaps) trusted.

    1. Georgie M.

      Yes, what do they do? Maybe someone reading this can point to what the other military services. do.

  8. Billy Kenningston

    Just got back from walking my dog and got my first cup of coffee. Read your article and like it. Well done!

  9. Janna Faulkner

    I never knew the army did this. Thanks for the update. I would hope all organizations and groups do something to ensure new members are accepted quickly.

  10. Army Captain

    The ‘patch ceremony’ is a relatively new development in the US Army. But the reason is exactly as you state. They want to speed up the time that it takes to integrate new soldiers into their units. Good for them.

    1. Gil Johnson

      This is new to me but looks like a great idea.

    2. Len Jakosky

      I never knew and thanks for the confirmation.

Comments are closed.