My name is John and I was selected to be the drill commander for this year. It’s only been a few days and we are already having problems, especially between my selected leaders. The whole atmosphere changed the next day when my AI handed me the drill cord, it was like my leaders didn’t want to socialize with me anymore (Problem 1). Some of them actually fought with me about getting the position (Problem 2). Others try to take over while I’m teaching, but I need my leaders, I know I can’t do it on my own. I try talking to them in a meeting or even individually but they never listen. I don’t want to yell at them to do things or baby my drill team becuase we just started and I don’t want to scare off the LET1s by yelling at someone, but my leaders don’t want to work with me. I’ve been kicked out of the staff chats and someone showed me everything they were saying. I know as a drill commander it’s my job to just concentrate on my team and get things done but now I just feel I’m on my own here and I don’t know what to do.
What a dilemma! It may not help, but you are not alone, metaphorically. This is a common problem in JROTC.
Addressing Problem 1. Leadership is lonely- or can be. The social issues are part of what happens. Leaders begin to distance themselves from those they lead when selected for a position- to a certain point. For a high school cadet, this can be tough as teenagers are very social creatures.
Side note on leadership. While each member should be treated the same at the beginning of your new assignment, you will see which team members need to be treated differently to get the same results. It has to do with personality and also level of training. Here is what I mean.
Addressing Problem 2. The reason this is happening is because your cadets do not see leadership in you- or they THINK they don’t see it. Let’s change that. Come at them with a plan and, here it is.
Bad JROTC instructor? Click here to read if this may play a part.
You have three types of goals, short-, medium- and long-term. RD= Regulation Drill; XD= Exhibition Drill
See the article, Create Goals Not Dreams. SMART goals are best. Image from studenysuccess.unc.edu.
Your short-term goals:
- Assign Drill Team Trainer and Lead LET1 to ensure LET1s are fully trained in RD
- Ensure all drill team members attend practices
- Get two/three volunteers to help you plan the team’s XD platoon/flight (and squad/element) (armed and unarmed) sequence(s)
- Encourage all team members to practice XD at home (Check out this sample of some basic armed XD that I teach)
Your Mid-term goals:
- Assign Commanders* for Squad and Platoon RD Armed and Unarmed sequences (must memorize sequence)
- Assign Backup Commanders* for Squad and Platoon RD Armed and Unarmed sequences (must also memorize sequence)
- Learn all RD sequences and perform from memory
*Armed and Unarmed Squad and Platoon Commanders and their Backups are only in charge of that specific portion of the team when in competition only. Assign these commanders as you see fit- have tryouts in three weeks, that gives team members enough time to memorize the sequence they want to command. You can break this down further if you have a male and female team.
Your long-term goals:
- Attend and win X-number of competitions (identify all competitions coming up)
- Assign someone to help you with planning transportation to events
Write all of these goals on the classroom board during a team meeting. Tell the team this is what you have come up with and ask for their input about any goals you may have missed and how to achieve the goals. You must show strong leadership at all times and ignore the petty immaturity that happens outside of drill team time. During drill team time- practice and meetings- it’s you who is in charge, but you do not need to be a hammer. Be assertive and know what you are doing. The only way to know what you are doing is to learn and read.
Dear reader– what is your input? Please comment below.