Army Counseling and Soldier Development In peacetime, all leaders are responsible for developing and preparing subordinates to assume higher positions in wartime. Counseling is one means of developing subordinates. A good leader counsels subordinates to—
Praise and reward good performance.
Inform soldiers on how well or how poorly they are performing.
Assist soldiers to reach required Standards.
Cause soldiers to set personal and professional goals.
Help soldiers resolve personal problems.
Such actions demonstrate that a leader cares about the individual soldier. Firm and caring leadership helps create a climate in which soldiers are motivated and are enthusiastic and willing to perform their tasks. American soldiers have always responded well to a leader who listens to their concerns, provides advice and assistance, and deals with them fairly and honestly, even though, at the same time, he insists on high standards. This positive climate is developed through sincere and continuous effort over time, not just through scheduled counseling to meet a requirement. The leader’s efforts to develop soldiers should accomplish four objectives:
Cause the soldier to recognize strengths or shortcomings and define any problems. This calls for patience, sincere
interest, and clear thinking.
Have the soldier determine possible courses of action based on facts, and then cause him to select one. This requires skill, knowledge, and restraint.
Cause the soldier to actually take the appropriate action. This will depend on the soldier’s commitment to his decision.
Have the soldier assume full responsibility for his decisions and actions.
This can be met only if the first three objectives are accomplished. In any counseling effort, the leader must show that he understands and accepts how the subordinate feels and acts. He needs to imagine himself in the soldier’s position with the soldier’s experience. He should try to see things the way the soldier does. This does not mean that the leader must agree with the subordinate or condone all his actions, but he should try to understand how the soldier feels. The leader can then ask questions in a meaningful way. Accepting means enabling subordinates to express their true feelings. A soldier’s feelings are real. To bluntly tell someone his feelings are all wrong is to show a non accepting attitude—and the chance to assist may be lost. On the other hand, effective counseling can free a soldier’ s mind from pressures that are harmful both to the individual and to the unit.