The Army Values and Sharp Program
In this expository essay, we will look at the seven army values, how living them and adapting to them in all aspects of our lives will foster an environment of dignity and respect.
The first army value is LOYALTY, which is to bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other soldiers. The Army's definition for loyalty is "bearing true faith and allegiance as a matter of believing in and devoting yourself to something or someone. A loyal soldier is one who supports the leadership and stands up for fellow soldiers. By wearing the uniform of the United States Army, you are expressing your loyalty, and by doing your share, you show your loyalty to your unit". (United States Army, n.d.) Throughout my career in the United States Army, loyalty has always been at the forefront of my mindset. I have incorporated this army value into my life and found that loyalty is a two-way street in that loyalty should be reciprocated. For instance, my experience has been that by showing loyalty to a soldier, that soldier will reflect said loyalty and project it back to the chain of command. Therefore, with the action of loyalty, I have started to build an environment of dignity and respect.
The Second army value is DUTY to fulfill your obligations. Duty is the legal and moral obligation to do what should be done without being told (Field Manual 6-22: Leader Development, 2015). After many years of service, I have obtained a complete understanding of duty's meaning as it pertains to our current profession as soldiers. I do my job to the best of my ability because of the sense of duty I have. There have been many times I stay late or start early to complete tasks on or before deadlines to assist the unit in meeting or exceeding expectations. By adopting this value, I am letting the soldiers know that I am invested in their success and success as soldiers. In addition, I strive to follow in the footsteps of the great leaders that have come before.
The third army value is RESPECT, which is to treat people as they should be treated. The army definition for respect In the Soldier's Code, we pledge to "treat others with dignity and respect while expecting others to do the same." Respect is what allows us to appreciate the best in other people. Furthermore, respect is trusting that all people have done their jobs and fulfilled their duty. Self-respect is a vital ingredient with the Army value of respect, which results from knowing you have put forth your best effort. The Army is one team, and each of us has something to contribute. (United States Army, n.d.) My experience shows a soldier's respect through open communication that soldier will reciprocate the respect and is most likely to go above and beyond for the unit. This communication shows the soldier that you respect their view even if the outcome is unchanged. Respect is a significant element in my leadership method in that I understand my plan may not always be the best avenue to take to achieve the unit's goals. Subsequently, there will be times when a subordinate soldier may have an idea that is better suited to achieve success for the team. As the leader, it is my responsibility to listen and incorporate the best ideas into the plan.
The fourth army value is SELFLESS SERVICE; put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own (United States Army, n.d.). Selfless service is more extensive than just one person. In serving your country, you are doing your duty loyally without thought of recognition or gain. The basic building block of selfless service is each team member's commitment to push further, endure longer, and look closer to see how they can add to the effort. (United States Army, n.d.) Throughout my career in the United States Army, I have found that selfless service is achieved through developmental counseling. For instance, a soldier will go above and beyond to commit to the unit if they clearly understand the unit's goals and their part in said goals. Also, by building a rapport with the soldiers and showing them their value within the company, they will be motivated to obtain those goals. As a leader, I will continue to put my soldiers' welfare above my own. I have found this is one of the building blocks to become a great leader.
The fifth army value is HONOR; live up to the Army values (United States Army, n.d.). I incorporate honor into my everyday life by living up to all of the other army values. Furthermore, honor is the one army value that you have failed all the other army values if you do not follow it. As a young boy, my parent instilled in me an understanding of honor and its importance, which has carried through my military career. Honor is the strict conformity to honesty, fairness, and conventional standard of conduct. I believe that honor is doing what is right all of the time and following through with what you say you will do. Being an honorable man is the prime building block in becoming a leader that sets himself above his peers and that people will strive to emulate.
The sixth army value is INTEGRITY, do what is right, legally, and morally. Integrity is a quality you develop by adhering to moral principles. It requires that you do and says nothing that deceives others. Therefore, as your integrity grows, so does the trust others place in you. The more choices you make based on integrity, the more this highly prized value will affect your relationships with family, friends, and, most importantly, the fundamental acceptance of yourself. (United States Army, n.d.) Integrity is a significant value that a leader should possess; if integrity is missing in a leader, your troops will not trust your decision-making skills. There will always be leaders who do not have integrity, which will lead to their soldiers doubting their ability to effectively and efficiently lead their section. Furthermore, without integrity, the leader may not take responsibility for the platoon's shortcoming, squad, and team by blaming others. For instance, acknowledging one's mistakes and accepting responsibility for the unit's failures is one measurement of a leader's integrity. I believe integrity is the ability to be morally centered enough to perform in the unit's best interest while acknowledging and accepting my mistakes. This belief has enabled me to become an effective leader.
The seventh army value is PERSONAL COURAGE, face fear, danger, or adversity (physical or moral). The value of personal courage has long been associated with our Army. With personal courage, it is a matter of enduring physical duress and, at times, risking personal safety. Facing moral fear or adversity may be a long, slow process of continuing forward on the right path, especially if taking those actions is not popular with others. You can build your personal courage by standing up daily for and acting upon the things that you know are honorable. (Army Regulations 600-100: Army Profession and Leadership Policy, 2017). As a leader, I have incorporated personal courage into my career in the United States Army by not asking my soldiers to perform a task that I would not complete myself. For instance, during my deployment in Iraq in 2005, I was asked to disembark out of an M113A3 track vehicle to pick up six M155 artillery shells with electric blasting caps cemented into the nose cone to move them away from a city center. Then, I placed them inside the track vehicle and secured them until we could move out to a safe area for detonation. I performed this task without hesitation to ensure the safety of all units operating within that battlespace. This situation is one example of how I have faced fear and incorporated personal courage into my life.
The Sharp Program
The Sharp program is a good program that is not being utilized to its full extent. This is not due to a shortcoming in the program's design and intended use but more a lack of understanding by the soldiers and leadership on how to incorporate the Army values into their personal and professional lives. Furthermore, with a renewed focus on the Army values and soldiers being accountable for their actions, more time and resources could be spent on other elements of the unit's responsibilities. As a leader, I do my very best to follow and live up to the army values, which helps foster a command climate of dignity and respect for all unit members. Another way to enable an environment of dignity and respect is to have that open-door policy so that soldiers know and understand that you can always bring concerns and issues to the command. When I take time to talk with my soldiers about their families, I have taken a vested interest in them as a person and as a soldier. In turn, this makes a soldier feel part of the team and enables the Commander and me to build a favorable Command Climate, in turn creating an environment of dignity and respect for all.
In this essay, we looked at the Army's definition of the army values and how I have incorporated them into my military career, which has helped me become an effective leader.