03 August 2010

BCT: Things I learned

Consistency.
It looks simple on paper: leaders have to be consistent. But it's not that simple, especially in an environment like BCT. It's hard to be hard all the time, and it's hard to find the middle ground between hard and soft, but closer to hard.

BCT's not supposed to be easy: there's gotta be yelling, there's gotta be lots of PT, there's gotta be early mornings. Sometimes, we do things just to stress out the basics, see if they can handle it. But they're only gonna follow if they know you care. So they have to know you care, without you coming off as a softie. And you have to stay in the same spot - the hard-but-caring cadre spot - the whole time.

One way to do this is simply to serve your suboordinates.

Service.
Give them the tools to do their job: in this situation, mainly water and food, and even PT. If they're legitamately injured, take care of them. The USAFA Command Chief told us today that "sergeant" means "servant". It's who you gotta be. Love the ones you serve. Love the ones you lead.

Presence.
I never knew a command voice could earn you respect. But if you're loud, clear, and confident, people listen and people act, whether or marching a flight or getting in someone's face.

Cadre don't make mistakes. They have to be that perfect example, that shining cadet who never screws up. they have to stay on top of things. Who wants to follow a screw-up?

Or, worse, who wants to follow someone who screws up but doesn't do anything about it? I was texting my brother at the BCT graduation dinner. Stupid. A major came up and asked if the dinner was boring me. In front of the basics - that was embarassing. I knew I screwed up. She took my phone.

Knowing I screwed up, I apologized to my basics for my poor leadership and the bad example I set. They left, and the major was waiting for me. She told me she wouldn't normally correct cadre in front of basics, but what I was doing was agregious. She was right. She talked about setting an example and have pride in all we do. Taught me a good lesson.

The next day, one of my basics told me he thought the way I handled the situation was very honorable. Today, I found out that kid asked me to pin on a shoulderboard for him.

So, don't screw up. But if you do, own up to it.

Respect.
"He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them respect for himself..." - Major General John M. Schofield, 1879 graduation address at West Point.

It's true. If you respect your subordinates, they will respect you. And when BCT is over, they just might ask you to pin on their shoulderboards.

I think it feels better to pin on shoulderboards than to have them pinned on yourself.

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