Army Leadership Counseling
To be an effective counselor, a leader must understand his be, know, and do attributes. The Army Leadership
Manual describes these attributes in detail. Briefly, what a leader must be is described by the professional Army
ethic and professional character traits. What he must know includes technical and tactical information, people, and
the situation. What he must do is provide leadership that directs, implements, and motivates.
A leader’s personal beliefs, technical know-how, and motives are important. To be respected and believed by
his soldiers, he must have a sound professional foundation. His strengths and weaknesses as well as his sincerity
will be quickly sensed; soldiers know if a leader cares and is concerned for their well-being. The leader’s character
and competence are demonstrated to others by his conduct in day-to-day activities. His personal example sets the
standards. Therefore, a leader should meet or exceed the standards of conduct and performance expected of
subordinates. Advice and guidance offered in counseling will not be followed if the leader himself does not meet
the required standards.
Counseling is valuable to the leader in a number of ways. It can clear up misunderstandings. It can save
time by teaching soldiers to solve their own problems. It can also help to improve an individual’s motivation
and to develop teamwork. Counseling provides leaders the opportunity to talk with subordinates and to learn
more about their concerns and the problems they face in the unit. Finally, counseling can help keep good
soldiers in the Army. Counseling is inherent in leadership—at any time, in any environment.
Counseling responsibilities range from holding scheduled, structured counseling sessions to reacting to problem
situations as they occur or giving on the spot guidance and praise. Every day the small unit leader is faced with
many different situations where timely guidance may help subordinates to solve their problems and to perform up
to their capacity. It need not take an hour; two to three minutes of reinforcement for a job well done is meaningful
to a soldier. Sometimes the leader initiates counseling to discuss a soldier’s effectiveness, discipline, appearance,
or some other matter the leader has noticed. At other times, the soldier brings his problem to the leader. Problems
may range from dislike of the job to emotional or financial trouble. Whatever the situation, leaders who care take
the time to counsel, and leaders who care take the time to praise.
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