Lead with the best version of yourself.

Building Cohesive and Effective Teams

by Mitch Butterworth

“It is not what [leaders] know or how bright they are that leads to success or failure; [rather] how well they work with others, and how well they understand themselves.” – R.J. Burke                                                                                                                       

The US Army relies on cohesive and effective teams (CET) to perform tasks, achieve objectives, and accomplish missions. To build CET, the Army relies on the concept of Army team building. Army team building helps teams to reach their collective goals through the application of leadership exercises, activities, and techniques. In this article, I will provide two examples of leadership activities or techniques designed to build CET. Those two examples are humble leadership and authentic leadership. 

Humble Leadership

The idea of applying humility to leadership and organizations was advanced by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. It is important at this point to address the negative view often associated with humility or humble leadership. Humility or humble leadership is not poor self-esteem, passivity or meekness. Generally speaking, humble leaders are described as other-affirming, self-effacing, and people oriented. ADP 6-22 defines humility as a leader being unselfish and working towards something more important than themselves. 

What are the specific humble leadership behaviors that drive the building of cohesive and effective teams? 

4 Types of Officers; and How to Develop Yourself and Others

By Joel Smith 

The Four Types of Officers

As a young officer I read German General Kurt Von Hammerstein-Equord’s four officer categories; they are 1) the clever, 2) the industrious, 3) the lazy, and 4) the stupid.

“I divide my officers into four classes as follows: the clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can, under certain circumstances, be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite nerves and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.” (Von Hammerstein, 1933)

“You can use the brilliant but lazy man as a strategist, a brilliant but energetic man as a Chief of Staff, but God help you with a dumb but energetic man.” (Gen Douglas McArthur)

 By swapping out a few terms for contemporary ones, we get four base archetypes:

Lazy and dumb: Doesn’t do much, but doesn’t cause problems, can be of use under certain circumstances. Needs supervision and you can trust them with simple tasks.

Lazy and intelligent: Has the intellect necessary to make strategic decisions, and doesn’t expel too much energy on inconsequential issues.  They focus their energy on gaining efficiency, saving cost, and reducing risk over the long-term.

Hardworking and dumb: Not self-aware, doesn’t know what they don’t know, and won’t ask for directions. They actively make things worse. These people can be quite affable and charming. They often ‘talk a big game’ but can’t deliver, they are dangerous.

Hardworking and intelligent: Tackles problems, relentless, does not accept defeat. This type, when armed with commander’s intent and end state, will find a way to solve any problem necessary to achieve results.

The Impact of Moral Efficacy on Army Readiness

by Marc Meybaum, Cole Cannon, & Brian Martinez

You stand in the hot sun of a motor pool staring down at a sea of equipment layouts. You have been desperately trying to manage the ream of property book pages as you conduct your change of command equipment inventories. You have been acclimating to your new unit over the past few weeks and are very eagerly trying to earn their trust. 

You have reached a decision point, the equipment in front of you is in no way serviceable. 

Your outgoing counterpart informs you this is exactly how they received it and it will never be needed. Your timeline is tight, and you know this could really slow you down. The supply representative assures you that this will “take care of itself,” and there is no need to make an issue where one doesn’t exist. Although his words are tempting, you know they don’t sound quite right, though they don’t sound fully wrong either….

Lessons from Large Scale Combat Operations, Part III

by Larry Kay, Josh Cosmos, Dan DeNeve, Nicole Courtney, Jeremy Mounticure

Editor’s Note: In this final article of our three-part series, the authors will describe the staff’s attempt to create “decision space” for the commanding general, while also highlighting where they fell short in planning and execution.

The term “decision space” is so frequently used that you would assume it is defined in doctrine, but it is not. Ultimately, they think it best to reference the conventional wisdom of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who opined on the definition of obscenity during Jacobellis v. Ohio in 1964, “…I know it when I see it…” While we do our best to define decision space below, each commander (and staff) will likely “know it when they see it.”

Lessons from Large Scale Combat Operations, Part II

by Larry Kay, Josh Cosmos, Dan DeNeve, Nicole Courtney, Jeremy Mounticure

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part article, stay tuned for the final part tomorrow. In the previous article, the authors discussed the importance of aligning planning with targeting as well as illustrating a sense-making model which can inform when and why a staff should adjust their planning horizon. In this next post, they aim to explain the importance of assessment-driven planning, finding flexibility in a battle rhythm, and the natural tension between deception, dilemmas, and risk.

Lessons From the Dark Side: Leadership by Vader

by Eric Shockley

The presentation with the Emperor had not gone well. Progress on the completion of the Death Star had been slow.  Delays, complications with contractors, hiring challenges, and the ongoing war with the Rebel Alliance had all negatively impacted the site becoming fully operational. The Emperor had honed in on every task with a Red completion status, quizzing Vader relentlessly for over six hours. He’d been on the job for all of two days. As he let out a slow sigh, he remembered that this was the life, the constant demands simply a given now that he was a senior leader.

A Lesson from History: Never Present the “Throwaway” COA

by Rick Chersicla

From 431 BC to 404 BC, the two preeminent Greek city-states of the time engaged in what would be a generational struggle. This war (really a period of intermittent conflict with the occasional stretches of peace) commonly known as The Peloponnesian War, was a struggle for hegemony between the land power of Sparta, and the rising master of the sea, Athens. The best account of the war is that written by Thucydides, himself a veteran of the fighting. Thucydides’ sweeping work (one he wrote with the intent that it be a “work for all time”) contains a multitude of lessons in diplomacy and international relations. 

Beyond its obvious utility for historians, diplomats, and the strategists, the nearly 2,500-year-old work also holds relevant lessons for any boardroom or operations center given its timeless lessons on communications and leadership.

Yours, Mine, Ours: Identifying Responsibilities Amongst Leaders

Yours, Mine, Ours: Identifying Responsibilities Amongst Leaders

by Andrew Wilhelm and Michael Hellman

In the winter of 2021, my new Platoon Sergeant and I sat down over coffee and began building our new partnership. I had seven months of Platoon Leader time under my belt and a relationship with my first PSG that we both considered highly effective. However, I understood the importance of establishing initial expectations and wanted to set our team up for success. During that initial counseling, SFC Hellman and I discussed our families, backgrounds, and goals for the Army. We spoke frankly about the Platoon’s strengths and weaknesses, set joint goals, and identified an initial action plan. By the end of the session, it was evident that we would work well together and that the counseling had gone well. But, as would become his habit, SFC Hellman showed me how we could improve our session. He introduced me to the “yours, mine, ours” exercise.