We recently received feedback from almost 1,100 Lieutenants and Captains with information about their development as leaders. Several interesting findings have emerged. Summary highlights follow:
- 75% of those surveyed “somewhat agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the Leader Challenge scenarios they experienced as cadets prepared them to face some of the moral and ethical dilemmas they have faced as an officer. You might want to use these for your own development, or the development of those you lead.
- While the feedback on the utility of the Leader Challenges is nice, what is more useful is the input we received on topics / situations these junior leaders think would be beneficial to the development of cadets or other junior officers. Several themes emerged
- False reporting (OR rates, weapon qual, HT/WT, etc.). LTs and CPTs mentioned they experienced pressure from leaders to “fudge the numbers” or take shortcuts “for the good of the unit or mission.”
- Supply knowledge and associated ethical practices. Much of this was the technical side of supply (CSDP/how to do inventories, etc.), but a lot also dealt with moral/ethical issues involving supply (being told to ‘lose’ a data plate, etc.)
- Soldier family and marital issues. Junior officers highlighted they were largely unprepared for these types of issues. They were surprised they occur at the frequency they do and they are unprepared to help their teammates deal with these issues.
- Real-life EO and SHARP scenarios and legal/ethical ways to respond.
- A surprising number of junior officers mentioned issues involving fellow junior officers making bad relationship decisions, as well as NCOs and superiors engaging in the same behavior.
- NCO/Junior Officer interactions. A few themes emerged in this topic area. The first was how to prepare for working with NCOs – who are more experienced (e.g., overcoming fear, how to show respect and appear competent, etc.). But a second theme also emerged relating to the fact that the advice “trust your NCO” isn’t always sound (e.g., how to deal with untrustworthy NCOs or how to confront someone making an unethical/unsafe decision). A third element focused on dealing with insubordinate NCOs/those who would not follow guidance issued to them.
- How to deal with suicides/deaths in the unit.
Some of the feedback received focuses on technical skills that might be covered in some commissioning sources or basic courses, but not covered in others (e.g., supply issues, etc.). Other points made are more ambiguous and deal with the human dimension.
We do have some existing products that touch on a few of these areas (e.g., dealing with a suicide, Command Supply Discipline, Officer/NCO relationship) but we will begin work developing LPD materials and articles to address these areas. If you’ve got information that you’d like to share, please let us know. You can reach us at CJO@westpoint.edu
Highlights from the past month
- Understanding the PL/XO relationship
- Tips on maintenance and leadership for junior officers
- Cowardice and the casualties of conflict avoidance
- The First 90 days as an XO (part 1 of 3)
- The First 90 days as an XO (part 2 of 3)
- New Read2Lead on the book Legacy
- New Listen2Lead on Speech That Empowers: How to Encourage Growth and Resilience in a Younger Audience
Some things we have in the works that you’ll see in the weeks ahead on the CJO website:
- The First 90 days as an XO (part 3 of 3)
- The power of cognitive diversity in our military
- Detailed career planning for the junior officer
- People first, winning matters: The tightrope of leadership
We are also developing some new YouTube-based materials that focus on personal development – sharing information on topics related to the human dimension (and the items noted above) that we will be sharing over the next few months.
Other posts of interest
While we run/focus on the Center for Junior Officers site, we know there is a lot of other great content out there that can help junior officers in their pursuits. Below are a few articles/podcasts/products from other sources that you might find interesting – we did!
- Organizational Culture and Trust
- Want to develop your command philosophy? DoD Reads has some stuff that can help
- How to do a presentation that doesn’t stink
- The surprising power of questions
Where we can use your help
Some specific projects we could use your assistance on include:
- Articles related to the findings highlighted in our recent survey of junior leaders. Did you experience something similar? Did you learn anything from your experience that you wished you’d known beforehand? If so, send us a note about writing an article.
- Do you have first-hand experience with the “People First” initiative at Fort Hood? We’d love to hear your thoughts – an article sharing your insights would be welcome!
Join the team
If you’re an active-duty junior officer who is interested in obtaining a fully-funded advanced degree (or if you already have an advanced degree from a top-tier institution in a topic related to organizational behavior, I/O psychology, MBA, or related area), will have completed your key development position requirements as a Captain by May 2023, and want to PCS to West Point to join the Center for Junior Officers team, please reach out and let us know
Additional information is also located here.
Until next month – lead well my friends!
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