From the Green Notebook

Lead with the best version of yourself.

General George S. Patton

General George S. Patton

Genuine Leadership – A Reflection

Genuine Leadership – A Reflection

Editorial note – This blog post is part of our Scribbles series. If interested in submitting creative content, view our guidelines here or contact Cassie Crosby at cassie@fromthegreennotebook.com.

Sketched by Scott Relleve

By Christian Lance Relleve

“The one quality that can be developed by studious reflection and practice is the leadership of men”  -Dwight D. Eisenhower

We have been ingrained upon to read voraciously of anything related to military leadership to further our professional development. We are encouraged to live by the values that have been taught to us preceded by notable historic commanders. These commanders have lived through and exemplified unique values of leadership. Of course, not all individuals will be able to live and abide by these values, but we may only invoke these qualities at a surface level if not fostered nor nurtured.

Genuine leadership is a perspective that has potential to lead to understanding true leadership. Not all individuals are meant to live through the values Patton has exemplified, such as his sheer forwardness; Eisenhower’s optimism; Shalikashvili’s studiousness; nor Marshall’s rigor and fairness. Let’s face it, some individuals of today do commit to try and live these values but are not genuine. It is all surface with no depthbluntly, an emulation. These traits have been proficiently demonstrated by these leaders because it is thoroughly distinct to them, in fact— Genuine. Genuineness comes from the heart.  Developmentally, Genuine leadership stems into three factors: art, passion, and reflection. The intent to live by these values is to realize an individual’s self-importance and his or her potential to become a genuine leader.

Phony: A Short Story

Phony: A Short Story

Editorial note – This blog post is part of our Scribbles series. If interested in submitting creative content, view our guidelines here or contact Cassie Crosby at cassie@fromthegreennotebook.com.

By Daniel Sukman

“James”

“Please come in, James. I am surprised to see you this afternoon. It’s unusual for officers to use my open-door policy. In fact, it’s unusual for anyone to use it.”

“Thank you, sir.” I replied. However, it didn’t surprise me that nobody had ever approached Colonel Stark to have a conversation. For the past six months, after he had assumed command of the brigade, Colonel Stark instilled fear among his subordinates. It wasn’t his physical presence. In fact, Colonel Stark was a bit on the diminutive side, standing only about 5 foot 6 inches and weighing perhaps 140 pounds soaking wet. What kept people away from Colonel Stark was how he treated his fellow human beings.

“So, what is it that you want?” Colonel Stark said, as he sat behind his desk, his eyes still looking at his computer.”

The First Sergeant Blues

The First Sergeant Blues

By Michael Burke

You have finally arrived: the pinnacle of what most NCOs aspire to be, a First Sergeant, the top of your organization’s NCO support channel. 

You’ve been grinding every day: taking care of Soldiers, mentoring young NCOs, and advising junior Officers. The weight of the organization is on your proverbial shoulders. Frankly, you’re exhausted.  

If you’re still reading this, it’s safe to assume you are either selected or close to being  selected for the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA). You are most likely battling internally. Do you continue serving, or coast gracefully into retirement?

The reasons you think it’s time to separate are the same reasons you are so critically needed. You are tired and frustrated because you take care of Soldiers but constantly struggle through bureaucratic limitations or differences in opinion with your chain of command. True, you are your organization’s senior enlisted Soldier, but at the same time, you also realize that you don’t have the positional power to make the changes you truly envision. 

Tailoring a Professional Development Program

Tailoring a Professional Development Program

By Dan Vigeant

I get it, you’re busy. Your attention is constantly pulled in a thousand different directions, seemingly all at once: unit training, administrative actions, training meetings, maintenance meetings, property inventories, physical fitness, and the list goes on. However, if you are anything like me, you want to spend at least a portion of your time on the development of the people you are responsible for. You know their personal growth and success will elevate your organization to the next level and sustain it long after you’re gone, but you just can’t seem to find the time.

The answer is you have to make the time, which is easier said than done. The training calendar just keeps filling up. However, if leader development is important to you (it should be), you will find the time to make it a priority. A successful professional development program will have unimaginable short and long-term benefits. To survive, it must be focused on the intended audience, scheduled within the unit’s battle rhythm, and reinforced through ink to paper. Though this post is generally geared toward developing a professional development program at the company, troop, or battery level, many of the principles can be tailored to apply at any echelon. 

Three Principles of Distinguished Leadership

Three Principles of Distinguished Leadership

By Allison Miller

While the mission of defining “good” leadership will indefinitely entertain reasonable minds, I wish to highlight three rather unconventional principles drawn from my observations and experience of various leadership styles and some advice I have received over the course of my career. While my targeted audience is mainly junior officers, the following principles can be effectively employed by leaders at all levels: (1) Be selfish for the lives of your Soldiers. (2) Make troop welfare a priority. (3) Be a personal leader. 

The Attributes of Effective Mentorship

The Attributes of Effective Mentorship

By Jeroen Verhaeghe

One of the key responsibilities of a leader in any military organization is the development of  the next generation of leaders[i]. This responsibility is crucial because the military grows its leaders from within rather than recruiting managers from the outside. However, leader development is not as easy as it sounds. Leaders have a multitude of tasks, from consistently accomplishing their missions, fulfilling all administrative requirements, keeping their supervisor and family simultaneously happy, honing professional skills, and meeting the daily short-term needs of those in their charge. However, there is one more crucial piece to the puzzle: developing the next generation of leaders.

Leaders must prepare the organization for the future by ensuring there is a next generation of leaders who, eventually, will take their place. This development usually occurs at the organizational or unit level by means of professional development programs, coaching, and performance evaluations. Equally, it occurs through personal mentorship, which will be the focus of discussion throughout this article.

The subject of mentoring is often treated informally, if at all, and no military that I know of has published doctrine or written reference on how to execute it[ii]. Therefore, among practitioners (especially in junior ranks  and due to lack of experience) there may be some apprehension to engage in a relationship like this because of the uncertainties on how to effectively engage in the practice. This article aims to dispel some of that apprehension by describing the attributes of a mentoring relationship and simultaneously provide concrete recommendations for all parties involved.

Again, since few written references exist, this article is also an open invitation for discussion;  I am acutely aware of the limitations of my own perspective. Open discussion can only further the common understanding on the topic and we all stand to benefit from that.

Why Some Commands Fail

Why Some Commands Fail

By Dennis Reilly

If you have served for any length of time, you are bound to have served in exceptional commands as well as some that simply miss the mark. The latter are places where no one wants to go to work and members regularly express their desires to leave the command as soon as possible. In my experience, failing commands share some common characteristics.

First and foremost, in a failing command, leadership is either unwilling or unable to address the issue of culture. Command culture is the glue that holds everything together and provides the direction in which the command is moving. Building a culture is hard, time consuming work. It is easy to get sucked into the demands of reporting, inspections, meetings, and the unending stream of phone calls and emails. These are necessary tasks, but so is the need to build a strong, focused culture within your command.  Commanders must clearly communicate their intent for a command climate focused on treating each other with dignity and respect and clearly communicate their expectations. 

Leadership Vignette: Mission Command and Command and Control (4 of 4)

Leadership Vignette: Mission Command and Command and Control (4 of 4)

LTC Kelly McCoy

This is the final in a series of four vignettes designed as a supplement to the 2019 series of mission command articles (Part 1, 2, and 3) led by General Stephen Townsend. The vignettes follow a fictional character, John Miller, through his career as an Infantry officer. Each vignette is a stand-alone story reflecting the principles of mission command and how it is applied in terms of leadership. 

If you did not read the introduction and the other vignettes linked above, we would encourage you to do so. Vignette number four follows.

Vignette 4: Commander’s Intent & Mission Orders

When communication is unreliable and the situation is evolving chaotically – establishing shared understanding and intent is critical. When MG John Miller realizes his original plan is about to fail, he must depend upon the trust he has established up and down the chain of command and develop new mission orders to prevent strategic loss.

Army Culture: Make Room for Recovery

Army Culture: Make Room for Recovery

By MAJ Terron Wharton

From January 2018 to June 2020, I served in key development positions as a battalion operations officer, battalion executive officer, and brigade executive officer. My key development time was the hardest I have ever worked in my life. Fortunately, I had great teammates, worked for wonderful bosses, had the opportunity to coach and mentor junior officers and NCOs, and formed lifelong bonds I will cherish for the rest of my life. Despite being part of a great team, stress took its toll, and by the end I was something of a wreck; my personal life was strained, I was mentally and physically exhausted, and, to add insult to injury, I had also gained about ten pounds.