BookLink: Army Leadership (BE ~ KNOW ~ DO) {Book 1, Wk. 1}

If you have seen my recent posts introducing BookLink (“BookLink ~ An Introduction to the Leadership Reading Series” and “BookLink ~ The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual“), you know that it is a leadership reading series that provides you the opportunity to have direct and complete access to military-oriented leadership books, pamphlets, field manuals, and other resources of information.  BookLink will be a weekly “book club” where I will provide you a link to the full text of a book, and together we will read and discuss its content.

Last week, we started with The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual.  Below, you will find an interactive embedded version of this book.  You may also go directly to at to view or download it.   Also, The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual can be found and downloaded for free at The United States Army Combined Arms Center (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas), Center for Army Leadership, website at

This past week, our assignment was to read Chapter 1 thru 5 (pages 1 thru 53).  I hope you had the opportunity to read this first section of the book, as it introduced the foundations of leadership in the Army; BE – KNOW – DO.  I have provided a summary below of these chapters for your review.  I am eager to get our interactive discussion started, and I would like to hear from you on your impressions and opinions about chapters 1 thru 5 of The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual.

This coming week, our assignment is to read chapter 6 thru 9 (pages 54 thru 106).  Then, on February 6, I will have a post for discussion on what we have read.

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The United States Army leadership doctrine, through the U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual (FM 6-22), establishes the framework of leadership for all soldiers.  It discusses how Army values form the basis of character.  The values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage build the foundation of an Army officer, and are most of the virtues that make up any officer in the military.

There are two reasons why leadership is important to someone in the United States Army.  The first was expressed eloquently by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur in a 1962 speech:

“[Y]our mission…is to win our wars…[Y]ou are the ones who are trained to fight.  Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed…”

Every organization has an internal culture and ethos.  On the shoulders of an Army leader rests the mission ‘win our wars.’  The desire to accomplish that mission despite all adversity is called the Warrior Ethos, which is as follows:

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

This statement represents the professional attitude, selfless commitment, discipline, pride and belief that characterizes the American Soldier’s winning spirit.

The second reason one must strive to become the very best leader they can be: your people deserve nothing less.  “The most precious commodity with which the Army deals is the individual soldier who is the heart and soul of our combat forces.” (General J. Lawton Collins, VII Corps Commander, World War II).  As a leader, in any walk of life, taking care of people is a primary function.  There are many aspects of this that the U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual discusses to include understanding human behavior, motivating people, mentorship, along with other people management skills.

From the moment an Army leader takes the oath, they accept many responsibilities.  The foremost of those responsibilities is the leadership of people; the most precious resource in their care.  These people deserve competent, professional, and ethical leadership.  They expect their Army leaders to respect them as valued members of effective and cohesive organizations and to embrace the essence of leadership.  An ideal Army leader has strong intellect, physical presence, professional competence, high moral character, and serves as a role model.

Being a good leader also means being a good follower.  With the same expectations a leader has of their subordinates, there is always someone who has similar expectations of them.  Therefore, the people’s success is the leader’s success – the leader’s success is their boss’ success – all the way up the chain until the entire organization benefits from everyone’s performance and success.  The teamwork throughout this chain of people contributes entirely to the organization’s success, and is vital to accomplishing the mission.

None of this occurs without competent leadership.  The Army Leadership Field Manual answers many questions about how to lead.  Among those questions are:

1)      How do you prepare to be a leader?

2)      How do you learn and embrace those values and skills that will enable you to meet the challenge?

3)      What makes a good leader and person of character?


There are things that a leader must BE, KNOW, and DO.

Leadership begins with what a leader must BE.  The values and attributes that shape a leader’s character.  These are the internal qualities that a person possesses, and are no different from one leader to another, regardless of position.  These qualities continue to develop and strengthen through experience and increased responsibility.  A leader must BE!


                 VALUES                           ATTRIBUTES                            

                Loyalty                               Mental

                Duty                                   Physical

                Respect                              Emotional

                Selfless Service



                Personal Courage

Skills are the things a leader must KNOW.  Everything from the technical side of one’s job to the people skills becomes the knowledge that leaders should use when leading people.  Again, as one moves through their career, this knowledge contributes to their ability to make decisions and take appropriate action.  A leader must KNOW!







A leader cannot be effective until they apply who they are (their values and attributes) and what they know (skills).  The leaders actions (what they DO) are influenced by their personal character and knowledge, and DO things that are morally and technically correct.




  • Communicating
  • Decision-Making
  • Motivating


  • Planning & Preparation
  • Executing
  • Assessing


  • Developing
  • Building
  • Learning


Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.  Leaders Influence their people to do what needs to be accomplished, while providing a clear purpose and reason to take action.  They communicate what tasks need to be accomplished and they assign the responsibility and the standards for accountability.  The leader’s ability to convey a clear vision and intent allows followers the freedom to modify plans and orders to adapt to changing circumstances.

Motivation plays a significant role in the leadership function, and is a key ingredient in the completion of tasks.  Although motivation comes from within each individual, it is affected by external influences.  The leader needs to understand their people; to know what they need, what their desires and aspirations are, and to know what motivates them.  Also, a good leader will learn about their people’s capabilities and what their limitations are, and then align the tasks and responsibilities to those abilities, while providing them increased challenges.

Learning from mistakes and improving performance is an ongoing, never-ending process.  The Army has this down, literally, to a science.  The Army is accustomed to performing an after-action-review (AAR), which is a professional discussion of an event, focused on performance standards.  Consider it a team’s self-assessment of what happened, why it happened, and how to correct mistakes and improve.  This feedback identifies strong areas, and how to improve on weaknesses.


The foundations of Army leadership are firmly grounded in history, loyalty to our country’s laws, accountability to authority, and evolving Army doctrine.  By applying this knowledge with confidence and dedication, leaders develop into mature, competent, and multi-skilled members of the Nation’s Army.  Additionally, character contributes significantly to how one acts, as well as knowing what is right and to do what is right.  Army leaders must be those critical individuals of character themselves and in turn develop character in those they lead.

The ingredients of one’s character are the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor integrity, and personal courage.

Loyalty – Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other soldiers.

“Loyalty is the big thing, the greatest battle asset of all.  But no man ever wins the loyalty of troops by preaching loyalty.  It is given to him as he proves his possession of the other virtues.” – Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall, Men Against Fire

Duty – Fulfill your obligations.

“The essence of duty is acting in the absence of orders or direction from others, based on an inner sense of what is morally and professionally right…” – General John A. Wickham Jr., Former Army Chief of Staff

Respect – Treat People as they should be treated.

“The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment.  On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army.  It is possible to impart instruction and to give commands in such manner and such a tone of voice to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey.  The one mode or the other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander.  He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.” – Major General John M. Schofield, Address to the Corps of Cadets, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, 11 August 1879

Selfless Service – Put the welfare of the Nation, the Army, and subordinates.

“The nation today needs men who think in terms of service to their country and not in terms of their country’s debt to them.” – General of the Army Omar N. Bradley

Honor – Live up to all the Army Values.

“What is life without honor?  Degradation is worse than death.” – Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson

Integrity – Do what is right – legally and morally.

“The American people rightly look to their military leaders not only to be skilled in the technical aspects of the profession of arms, but also to be men of integrity.” – General J. Lawton Collins, Former Army Chief of Staff

Personal Courage – Face fear, danger, or adversity (physical and moral).

“The concept of professional courage does not always mean being as tough as nails either.  It also suggests a willingness to listen to the soldiers’ problems, to go to bat for them in a tough situation, and it means knowing just how far they can go.  It also means being willing to tell the boss when he’s wrong.” – Former Sergeant Major of the Army William Connelly

Leadership is therefore values-based, relying on impeccable character and professional competence.

Attributes are what a leader is:

1)      A leader of character with values, empathy and the Warrior Ethos

2)      A leader with presence; military bearing, physically fit, composed, confident, resilient

3)      A leader with intellectual capacity; mental agility, sound judgment, innovation, interpersonal tact, domain knowledge

Core Leader Competencies are what a leader does:

1)      Leads: leads others, extends influences beyond the chain of command, leads by example and communicates

2)      Develops: creates a positive environment, prepares self and develops others

3)      Achieves: gets results

Leader competence develops from a balanced combination of institutional schooling, self-development, realistic training, and professional experience.  Over time, leaders develop their competencies through experience, and they become increasingly proficient in those competencies where they can apply them to increasingly complex situations.  To excel at the core leader competencies, a leader must:


1)      Leads others by providing purpose, motivation, and inspiration; enforcing standards; balancing mission and welfare of soldiers.

2)      Extends Influence beyond the chain of command by building trust outside lines of authority; understanding sphere, means, and limits of influence; negotiating, building consensus, resolving conflict.

3)      Leads by example by displaying character; leading with confidence in adverse conditions; Demonstrating competence.

4)      Communicates by listening actively; stating goals for action; ensuring shared understanding.


1)      Creates a positive environment by setting the conditions for positive climate; building teamwork and cohesion; encouraging initiative; demonstrating care for people.

2)      Prepares themselves by being prepared for expected and unexpected challenges; expanding knowledge; maintaining self-awareness.

3)      Develops leaders by assessing developmental needs and developing them on the job; supporting professional and personal growth; helping people learn; counseling, coaching and mentoring; building team skills and processes.


1)      Gets results by providing direction, guidance, and priorities; developing and executing plans; accomplishing tasks consistently.

Army leaders also show empathy.  They try to see things from the point of view of their soldiers, can identify with them, and can understand their feelings and emotions.  Competent and empathetic leaders take care of their people by providing them the support they need to accomplish the mission, resulting in troop cooperation, good morale and mission effectiveness.


Becoming a person and leader of character is a career-long process from experience, education, and self-development, as well as from continual study, reflection, experience, and feedback.  Leaders hold themselves and subordinates to the highest level of ethical standards.  Soldiers are expected to do the right thing for the right reasons and with the right goal in mind.  Adhering to the principles that the Army values embody is essential to upholding high ethical standards of behavior.

‘Leadership presence’ is the impression that a leader makes on others.  Some might call this charisma.  A leader’s appearance, demeanor, actions, and words make up this attribute.  It is the image that a leader projects.  Military and professional bearing (image), physical fitness (including health fitness), confidence, and resilience are important when developing one’s ‘leader presence.’


Next assignment (January 30 to February 6) is to read chapter 6 thru 9 (pages 54 thru 106) – Discussion post will be on February 6

Forthcoming BookLink Leadership Reading Series schedule is as follows:

February 27, March 5, 12, 19 and 26 – Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals – By Jeff Cannon and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon

April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 – Leading Marines – By The United States Marine Corps

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