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Army Leadership: Doctrine and the New FM 22 -100

The foundation of leadershipis character.”
-General Alexander M. Patch


Within a unit, leaders are responsible for the cohesion and disciplined proficiency that enable soldiers to effectively train for, fight and win the nation’s wars. But more fundamentally, Army leaders at every level have a solemn duty to embrace values. As Heraclitus said millennia ago, “A man’s character is his fate,” and the destiny of the led is bound to the leader. Those soldiers whom sergeants train, captains maneuver and generals commit are first America’s sons and daughters. Given the great responsibility leaders have to the nation and to its people, the Army is committed to values-based leadership that reaches for excellence every day.

This fall the Army will release the new Field Manual (FM) 22-100, Army Leadership. From a humble start as a 1948 pamphlet titled Leadership, the doctrine has evolved into a comprehensive electronic treatise published on the World Wide Web. The 1990 edition has served our Army well, but the 1998 manual takes a qualitative step forward by:

  • Thoroughly discussing character-based leadership.

  • Clarifying values.

  • Establishing attributes as part of character.

  • Focusing on improving people and organizations for the long term.

  • Outlining three levels of leadership – direct, organizational and stra

  • Identifying four skill domains that apply at all levels.

  • Specifying leadership actions for each level.

More than 60 vignettes and stories illustrate historical and contemporary examples of leaders who made a difference. The manual captures many of our shared experiences, ideas gleaned from combat, training, mentoring, scholarship and personal reflection. The Center for Army Leadership (CAL), US Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, recruited novelist and former infantryman Ed Ruggero to help turn this manual into a story about leadership. Ruggero’s marching orders were direct-“I want this manual to read so that a young sergeant or lieutenant who gets to the bottom of page 10 is curious about what’s on page 11,” stated CAL Director Colonel John P. Lewis. Feedback from soldiers – sergeants through generals – has been resoundingly positive: “Inspirational;” “Lively, interesting;” “I thoroughly enjoyed reading this manual – which says a lot for a field manual.”

The familiar concept “be, know, do” remains at the 1998 manual’s heart. By comparison, the 1990 manual loosely connected principles, factors, ethics, competencies and styles to define leadership. Today, FM 22-100 provides a specific framework with 23 dimensions to describe a leader of character and competence, the same features found on the front side of officer evaluation forms. For the first time, the Army directly links doctrine and formal leadership performance evaluation.

The manual comprehensively discusses how leaders from sergeant to general officer lead by influencing, operating and improving their people and soldiers. Everything in the manual flows from this axiom: Leaders of character and competence act to achieve excellence. After describing leadership’s common facets, the manual then explores what is different at higher levels. The framework applies to leaders at any level, in any situation, just as Army Values apply at all times to all soldiers.

Be: Values and Attributes

Leaders of character-this phrase echoes across time and throughout the ranks. Character describes who a person is inside, and at the core of Army leaders are Army Values. The Army has published, promoted and explained the seven values extensively and nowhere more powerfully than in the lives of our leaders. Those values-loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage (LDRSHIP) – capture the professional military ethos and describe the nature of our soldiers. Our common values help us understand the purpose of our missions and devise appropriate methods to accomplish them.

To understand leaders you have to know more than what they hold dear – you must understand their individual attributes. FM 22-100 outlines mental, physical and emotional attributes to describe more completely Army leaders’ nature. Moving from Army Values’ guiding principles into the careful practice of Army leadership involves exercising will, initiative, self-discipline, intelligent judgment and cultural awareness. These mental attributes, combined with the physical – military and professional bearing, physical and health fitness – and emotional – self-control, balance and stability – components, join with values to flesh out the essence of a leader’s character. We have long emphasized leaders of character and competence, so the notion is not new, but the doctrine now clearly marks values as the foundation of all that we are and do.

Know: Skills

Being a principled, dedicated leader is just the beginning. Leaders develop skills in a variety of areas grouped under four headings. Leaders must possess interpersonal skills and know their people and how to work with them as individuals and teams. Knowing, understanding and applying job-related ideas constitute conceptual skills. Knowing how to use equipment and being proficient with things are technical skills. Those who combine the skills with people, concepts and equipment to fulfill military missions have the tactical skills necessary for Army leadership. Army leaders have a continuing responsibility to develop new skills, whether for new jobs, equipment, tactics or different people. Although the robust Army school system gives conceptual and procedural basics for many leader skills, the experience and proficiency really grow in a unit. Even so, the challenge to improve as a leader always remains with the individual. The institution resources officer, warrant officer, managerial and noncommissioned officer education systems. Organizations track assignments for the good of the Army and the individual leader’s personal growth. However, no one knows the relevant areas worthy of study and practice like the leaders themselves. They determine what they need to know for the job, for the future, and they go after it. As leaders become more senior, there are fewer institutional schools and organizational opportunities available to them and the more important self-development becomes.

Do: Leadership Actions

While the Army is a values-based organization, this new definition of leadership focuses on what we can see and evaluate – behavior. Influencing, operating and improving are root leadership actions. Whether through orders, personal example or cooperative efforts, leaders get others to work together for collective goals. That requires giving reasons and challenges, not just tasks. The doctrine explores three ways that leaders demonstrate influence: communicating, decision making and motivating. At the direct level, leaders can influence face-to-face with instructions, encouragement and recognition. Higher levels require more indirect techniques and a clearly understood intent.

A leader’s influence obviously applies in the day-to-day business of operating – accomplishing missions. As part of operating, a leader is responsible for detailed, suitable planning; careful, proficient executing; and continual assessing and adjusting. Assessing change is essential to improving an organization. This new doctrinal emphasis means that a leader’s influence today involves preparing for tomorrow. Improving the organization is not itself a new concept, for good leaders get their people ready for contingencies and strive to leave the unit better than they find it. FM 22-100 now codifies the ideal. Just pushing troops to meet immediate demands never has been enough. Leaders must also provide for their future. They are also responsible for developing individual subordinates, building teams and fostering learning in the organization. These actions help prepare units for their leaders’ absence, an ironic but profound measurement of leadership effectiveness.

The Payoff: Excellence

We can measure leadership by assessing whether the organization performed its tasks, fulfilled its obligations and accomplished its missions. Another way is to assess whether the organization has improved and is capable of even more in the future. However, the ultimate measure of leadership success is excellence. That level of performance is a goal, not a standard, and that is the difference between creating high-performing, fully empowered units and creating a zero-defects atmosphere. Rather than be preoccupied with perfection, great leaders work to build a climate that encourages prudent risk taking and creativity; exercises command that tolerates honest mistakes; promotes learning; and develops leaders who know how to help individual soldiers become the best they can be. The figure explains how the core leadership dimensions fit together with other doctrinal concepts.

Army Leadership Framework

The Army leadership framework establishes what a leader must be, know and do. FM 22-100’s first section describes leaders of character and competence. In addition to discussing the leadership framework – values, attributes, skills and actions – in chapters one and two, chapter three explores the human dimension and the essence of leadership. Effective leaders understand the stresses of training, combat and inevitable change, and care for soldiers as they accomplish their missions under pressure. In a supportive, ethical climate, leaders demand the best from their soldiers-and teach and mentor them so that they constantly improve.

The three levels of Army leadership describe the different skills and actions necessary for handling increasing complexity at higher levels. Direct leadership is the work of first-line supervisors, whether they are corporals, captains or colonels. It is about face-to-face communication, so it clearly applies at the tactical level in teams, squads, sections, platoons and batteries-even in battalions and squadrons. But the skills and actions also apply at higher levels, when leaders supervise, counsel and mentor their immediate subordinates.

Chapter four outlines the skills required at the direct level. Beyond long-required competence in communicating, team building, supervising and counseling, our doctrine now highlights critical reasoning and creative thinking as essential conceptual skills. Leaders think analytically and creatively, considering multiple perspectives and their decisions’ intended and unintended consequences. Just as we train to hone technical and tactical proficiency in direct leaders, we develop them intellectually to improve their ability to handle ideas, thoughts and concepts.

Organizational leadership occurs at levels from battalion through corps within the military; at directorate through installation level for military and civilian leaders; and at assistant through undersecretary levels. From a warfighting perspective, leaders operate at the tactical level, but their influence is much broader when they operate increasingly through staffs. It may be helpful to think of brigade as the lowest level that is squarely in the organizational realm, for this level’s leaders have staffs that coordinate with both higher and lower staffs. In a large organization such as a brigade, it is also impossible to know everyone in the unit or speak personally to all assigned soldiers.

Because of increased unit size and complexity, organizational leaders influence, operate and improve their outfits through programs, policies and systems. They must concern themselves with the higher organization’s needs, as well as those of their subordinate units and leaders. Additionally, in concert with their staffs, they must synchronize and empower the extended command and control mechanism.

Several additional skills apply at the organizational level. Here, leaders use “systems thinking,” focusing more on patterns than discrete situations since successes and problems at this level often point to systemic strengths and flaws rather than individual human achievement or failure. To assess these systems’ effectiveness, the leader must be adept at filtering information, deciding how best to gather, analyze and evaluate information. With limited opportunities to observe and communicate in person, organizational leaders must ensure that their intent is clear and widely disseminated.

Strategic leadership occurs at the highest civilian and military levels, whether in institutional settings stateside or operational contexts around the world. Regardless of the specific environment-Army staff, joint, combined, political or diplomatic-strategic leaders face uncertainty, ambiguity and volatility. They must think in multiple time domains simultaneously as they deal with urgent crises worldwide, yet still continually provide for the future 15, 20, even 25 years out.

Looking forward, the strategic leader provides the vision to direct the force. From that flow the goals, plans and benchmarks that let people know they are moving forward. In the information age, strategic leaders look increasingly at leveraging technology to maximize combat readiness and effectiveness while minimizing risk. All along the way, strategic Army leaders are responsible for translating political goals into military objectives. Because they rely on others to support their vision, these strategic leaders tell the Army story over and over, reinforcing core messages about the Army to our political leaders, soldiers and even enemies.

One of the important strategic leader skills is the ability to achieve consensus and sustain coalitions. Working with so many agencies over whom he has no direct control, the strategic leader must negotiate shrewdly to reach mutually agreeable solutions. The payoffs can be enormous. For example, General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s skill at welding people together was critical to Allied success during World War II.

The bottom line for strategic leaders is always readiness for a variety of contingencies, so they continually assess the environment, the force and themselves to prepare appropriately. They choose directions even when the destination is unclear, and commit resources to make their plans succeed. By systematically developing leaders and personally leading change, they shape the culture in the Army and position the force for powerful service to the nation. Throughout FM 22-100, one theme resounds: Army leaders of character and competence use their influence to operate and improve their organizations. At all levels of the Army-direct, organizational and strategic – they produce a quality force prepared to fight and win the nation’s wars and to serve the common defense. Training soldiers, accomplishing missions and winning wars are Army trademarks. Those collective successes were produced by teams with high morale, disciplined proficiency and esprit de corps. With FM 22-100, the Army leaders who produce the “team of teams” have a sharpened tool to assist them in their noble and complex duty.

By identifying the skill categories that apply at all levels and specifying the changes at higher levels, the manual offers leaders a clear idea of what they must learn to serve at whatever level they find themselves. The discussion on actions outlines for each level what leaders do-what turns character into leadership. But above all, the new FM 22-100 anchors our leaders of character and competence in moral bedrock-our Army Values.

Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.

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