Effective leadership is based on mutual trust, respect, confidence, and
understanding between you and those soldiers under your direction. There are no rules
or formulas to tell you exactly what to do in each situation. This is true because an
action that is wrong in one situation may be right, just, and fair in another. Leadership is
more an art than a science. Always make sure your standards are reasonable and fair.
Fear creates a false climate which will not hold up under the stronger fear generated in
battle. Problems in a unit are rarely caused by soldiers. They are almost always
caused by a lack of good leaders or by leadership mistakes.
INCIDENT IN THE BARRACKS
Staff Sergeant Butler was a platoon sergeant in an ordnance company.
Sergeant Boyer was a squad leader. Staff Sergeant Butler had been concerned
because SGT Boyer was always complaining about the lack of enough coercive
power to motivate his soldiers to do the job. SGT Boyer wished he had been in the
Army in the old days when sergeants could physically beat soldiers or make them
go on punishment marches until they dropped. Staff Sergeant Butler tried to talk to
SGT Boyer about how to motivate his soldiers and how to properly use the
disciplinary tools that are legal and available: Withdrawal of privileges, oral and
written reprimands, and company discipline. SGT Boyer was never satisfied. He
would say, he just did not have the necessary punishment power to get good
performance from his soldiers.
Private Mendez had been in SGT Boyer's squad about two months.
Conscientious and hard working, PVT Mendez had said he might like to make a
career out of the Army.
One night, PVT Mendez left his key in his room by mistake. When he returned
from pass at midnight, he realized his mistake. The CQ did not have another key.
The only one who could be reached with another key was the company
commander. The commander was called, and he came in and let PVT Mendez in.
When Sergeant Boyer heard this, he was furious. He felt that this incident
made him look bad with the commander. He decided to teach PVT Mendez a
lesson. The next day, he called PVT Mendez in. He told PVT Mendez he was
going to give him a practical lesson on forgetfulness. He even had prepared a
lesson plan with an objective, a teaching point, and practical application. The
objective was "never forget your key again." The teaching point was that without a
key you can't get in, and that causes trouble for others, like your commander and
squad leader. He had prepared a special practical application to drive home the
teaching point. He had found a large wooden key about 1 foot wide and 3 feet
long. He attached this key to PVT Mendez's waist with a chain and locked the
chain. He said PVT Mendez would wear the key in the company area all day.
Figure 1-2. Incident in the barracks-counseling exercise (continued).