Being a Leader
Question 1: I was thinking about my weaknesses & strengths and a problem appeared to me. I want to be drill team commander, but I’m going to be a second-year cadet. Some of the other cadets are 3rd year, and it would appear to me that they would say, “why wasn’t I chosen?” This is going to be my first time actually leading a competing team other than an in-class team, and I thought about what do I do to make the team stay motivated and focused without them leaving and saying they don’t have to listen to me. Please help me get a better understanding of what I could do to become a better leader.
Answer 1: The best way to become a leader is by developing your educational foundation. That means, read about exhibition and regulation drill. Study your service drill and ceremonies manual and read every article at my website that pertains to you. Then, read about leadership: how to lead, what to say, how to motivate, etc.
My books are also available to you. Learn how to create an exhibition drill routine: how to write the drill and then layer the body movements and, if your team is armed, the rifle movements, on top of the written drill. You have much studying to do and at times it may seem dull, but your end goal will make studying so worthwhile.
You also have me. I am here to answer your questions or to just give you that extra motivation. Whatever I can do. You have my personal email address now, so make good use of it.
Let your instructors know that you are interested in becoming the drill team commander, that you plan on spending the summer deep in study and that you will return next school year a much-educated cadet.
A Quick Overview of Leadership Styles
While some have identified 13 or more styles, simplicity is the key for this introduction to leadership. I will go over the three main styles that the military uses: Directional, Participative, and Laissez-Faire. One does not choose a style and stick with it
- Directional is an autocratic style of leadership. It means that those under your supervision need you to direct each step. This is a beginning style of leadership, when those you supervise are new to the task (e.g. teaching drill). It can also be a punitive style that you can use when one of those you lead makes a big mistake, you bring them back to the beginning of the training process and direct their every move and progress onto the next style.
- Participative leadership means that those you supervise need little direction from you to complete the task. It is the next step in leadership and means that you can let them come to you for guidance and can also check on them throughout the day. You must check and not rely solely on those you are training to come to you.
- Laissez-Faire is a French term meaning, let do. It is a hands-off approach to leadership. Use this style when those you supervise have mastered their task requirements.
Developing a PROPER Command Voice
Question 2: I just attended a leadership camp and I was able to meet many cadets from schools all over my area. Which means, of course, different cultures and sounds, etc. Which made me think, what is a good command voice for AFJROTC? Please help me understand and build my command voice to the best of my abilities.
Answer 2: Good to hear from you again! This is a great learning situation in which you find yourself. You’ve come to the right place. There are standardized, proper ways to call commands- probably none of which you might have heard this summer. Please read my article, Your Command Voice.
Strictness and The Other Guy Lost
Question 3: I’ve tried your tips, and they have worked! Many cadets have told me to get more strict, but I don’t want to come off as mean, and have all my team leave. Please help me find the balance.
Also, I have a cadet who wanted the position of drill team commander, but I got it, so I felt tension from him when he saw I got it. Do you know any possible way I can resolve these problems?
Answer 3: Strictness is a matter of perception. What you really need to do is establish and maintain standards. That is not being mean-spirited to others, it is upholding standards.
- Arriving on time
- Learning and maintaining standing manual, the manual of arms
- and/or the manual of the flagstaff
- Respect, integrity, etc.
- Uniform wear
- Just about anything else of which you can think
In my junior year, I beat out another cadet who wanted drill team commander. He eventually got over it and I fully supported him in his unarmed solo exhibitions- in which he absolutely blew away the competition. Make the other cadet feel as though you support him and make him feel that he is part of the team, just like the others. Maybe offer him the ability to help design the team’s routine or make adjustments to it.
I’m glad my advice is helpful!