Iuniforms and unauthorized insignia. Not only this is going to reflect on your character but it will also set a bad example for your subordinates, as they look upon to you as a role model. Further, actions of this nature also undermine the authority of your subordinate leadership; how can an NCO correct his soldiers when you make the same violations?
b. Physical Fitness. Army is an intense profession that requires all members to be physically fit in order to be capable fighting and moving in combat. As a leader, you are expected to lead by example. That means you are expected to keep up with your men regardless of the activity. How can you be expected to lead in combat if you can’t keep up with the formation? You need to involve in evening sports and join with your platoon whenever possible during PT sessions. This will not only improve your physique but built respect of your subordinates and teamwork of your platoon.
c. Teamwork. Army as a whole is a one big team. In order for you to fit into that team you need to be a good “team player.” Lack of teamwork or being selfish would make you isolate as peers will not communicate with you nor willing to work with you. This would have grave future consequences as your subordinates will not follow you in to battle. Therefore, as a young officer you need to be part of team events and contribute to the team to the best of your ability.
d. Punctuality. This is one of the traits that would define your future career. No matter how good you are, if you are not punctual you are going to find very difficult to stay in the military. It could be training, conference, PT or social gathering but be there on time. As a rule always remember to show up five minutes early to any event. This would set a good example for others. Further, it will give you additional time to get oriented to the situation or make last minute changes if required.
e. Initiative. As a new officer you will be expected to carry out many tasks. In most of those tasks you will find that there is neither fixed answer nor adequate resources, so you need to use your initiative to achieve the expected result. Do not be the officer that gives up at the first opportunity. Use your common sense ; previous experience guided by your initiative to complete the task. This will greatly demonstrate your superior whether or not you can be relied upon to entrust a task in order to achieve the expected result.
f. Competence. It is mandatory to know your trade. As a young officer you are expected lead a platoon with a significant amount of equipment. If you demonstrate a lack of knowledge and laziness, it shows to your superiors, subordinates and peers that you are not competent enough to do the job. Competence builds credibility. The root of all success is individual proficiency in your job. Similarly, collective proficiency across the team leads to efficiency and effectiveness.
g. Comply ; Complain. When you arrive at your first duty station, you will experience that there are systems in place for different functions ; at first glance you will feel that there is a better way to get over it. The best way to get over this dilemma is to do your best to be in line with what is practiced in your battalion. Do not try to change things at the first instance, you should comply ; complain. Take everything coming on your way positively, be receptive for guidance ; constructive criticism.
6. Challenges are part ; partial of a military career. However, for a newly commissioned young officer it would be just more than just a challenge as you are being assessed by many in your organization. If you succeed you will be commended but if you fail to achieve the expected results you will have a torrid time. Some of the common challenges a young officer come across are enumerated as below:
a. Lack of resources. This is a universal challenge for military. We live in an
environment where resources are either very scare or rapidly dwindling. In many instances you will find that you don’t have enough resources, either manpower or material to carry out the task. In addition, the human resources you get may not have the required expertise to get the job done. However, people expect you to manage with whatever you got and get on with the job & expect the best possible result.
b. Orientation to the new environment. This is one of the biggest challenges faced by the young officers. Upon commissioning you will be walking in to a completely new environment. You will meet a bunch of new superiors & subordinates who come from various backgrounds. They will be a diverse group of individuals who work as a closely knitted unit. The dilemma of how well you could adopt to the new environment will always keep you guessing. On top of that everyone observing you will make you more nervous.
c. Understanding the Nature of Warfare. The present day nature of warfare being more asymmetric has placed fresh challenges on various levels of military leadership. During the initial training at the Military Academy, more focus is on teaching conventional warfare. This poses a set of difficult challenges for young officers at the beginning of their military career. The volatility & ambiguity of the present day battle space could adversely impact the decision making of young officers unless they are well versed on those situations.
d. Managing monetary matters. Army is not a lucrative profession compared to the civil street jobs. However, as a military officer you are expected to maintain a decent lifestyle, not luxurious but a standard level of life. Due to this aspect you may have to incur additional expenses but you need to manage it wisely. A lot of officers depend on low interest loans to construct their house, buy a car etc. That is fine as long as you have a clear understanding about the amount that you can afford to take as a loan. Some people go on a loan spree to enjoy a luxury life but fell in to a debt trap. If not managed carefully you are bound to end up as broken person & punished by the both civilian & military courts.
e. Managing Social life. Social gatherings are part & partial of a military life style. It encourages you to get to know each other & develop a strong camaraderie among soldiers. However, when you are on leave or involved in a civilian gathering you are expected to respect civilian norms, customs & traditions. There have been many instances that military personnel have brought black mark to their respective service due to unruly behavior. A special focus should be on consumption of liquor & behavior with your opposite sex. You should not forget the fact that even having a good time in a civilian gathering you are part of military and your actions could gravely tarnish the image of your organization, so beware of it!
MEANS TO SUCCEED
7. As enumerated in aforementioned paragraph, young officer life is full of challenges. In order to be a successful leader you need to face as many challenges. Sometimes you will fail, but you should not get disheartened. A failure means valuable learning experience for your future. Lessons learnt will always guide you to do better in future. There is no set format to become a successful leader; but undermentioned traits can certainly focus you to do better as a young officer.
a. Lead From the front. This is one of the most important leadership traits that a young officer should develop. You should lead by example every day and in everything you do, whether it is at physical training, on field exercises, or on the range. The best way to judge yourself worthy of leading your men is to put yourself in their shoes and take a hard look at yourself. Would you follow a person with your standards? Would you follow a person with your level of judgement & knowledge? Do not be a pretender. If you expect the soldiers to meet a certain standard, always ensure you exceed it. You should stay cool under pressure and be the calming presence when things get stressful in your organization. In short, you need to be the one that your men will look upon to lead them at all times!
b. Supervise or follow up your order. Military is a hierarchical organization. When you assign tasks to your subordinates, they are expected to carry them out. Further, as you can’t do everything yourself, you will inevitably have to delegate tasks to your subordinates. However, in order to gain optimal results you need to follow up your order. Today we live in a frequently changing environment; therefore, situations could change rapidly. Unless you do not follow up, re assess the new situation ; give additional guidance, your men are bound to fail. It could be either operational or administrative matter; but if you forget to follow up what you have tasked, you will be surprised with the outcome!
c. Manage with what you got. Lack of resources, either manpower or material will be one of the greatest challenges for young officers when entrusted with a task. You should not make this as an excuse for not to carry out the task. Instead, you have to use your initiative, managerial skills ; most of all common sense to handle the situation. If you take this not as a challenge but as an opportunity to prove yourself, it would do wonders to your personality.
d. Always put the troops first. In simple words it is to put the needs of your troops ahead of your own. In order to do this you need to get to know your men very well. If you take good care of your men they will return the favor to you. Talk to them frequently, identify their needs ; solve their administrative matters. In addition, take time to praise and reward soldiers for outstanding performance, it costs nothing but gains everything. These actions will earn their respect ; loyalty of your men.
e. Flawless Integrity. As an officer you are expected to have impeccable integrity in word and deed. At any cost you should never compromise your integrity. In simple terms it means telling the whole truth, unsolicited, even when it hurts you or someone else. You will face numerous ethical dilemmas as a young officer but you must maintain your integrity in each situation. Some situations will seem so gloomy that you have a difficult time in identifying right from wrong. When in doubt, always trust your instincts to do what is right. Your flawless integrity is a powerful tool in building trust between you ; your man. Absolute trust is mandatory as soldiers in combat trust you with their lives.
f. Thrive in Diversity. As a young officer when you report for the first time in your duty station you will feel that you have entered a diverse world altogether. Just like five fingers in your hand, everyone is different ; they have different strength ; weakness amongst them. If you are sharp enough to identify this, you can use diversity among your men to achieve the best result possible.
g. Seek and Take Responsibility. Achieving organizational results means accepting responsibility. While responsibility for portions of the mission may be delegated, ultimate responsibility for success or failure is borne by the leader or commander. Any efforts to evade responsibility destroy the bonds of loyalty and trust that must exist between leaders and those they lead. Seeking additional responsibility will assist in preparing for duties at higher levels of responsibility and is essential to operating within the established intent. Leaders adhere to what they believe is right and have the courage to accept the results of their actions.
h. Be Technically and Tactically Proficient. Effective leaders are thoroughly familiar with the operations, training, and technical aspects of their assignments. They know demonstrating technical and tactical competence inspires confidence. This principle also demands that leaders and commanders take responsibility for staying abreast of current military developments through service school training, field experience, professional reading, and personal study.
i. Balanced family life. You should always remember that “You were not born as soldier” ; “You have to say goodbye to the uniform one good day”. Never forget your family ; friends, keep close contacts with them. Manage your financial matters wisely; never let you end up in a debt trap. Further, curtail your social life as required. Do not let your official commitments obstruct your family matters and vice versa. You should select a balanced approach that would not ruin your family life or your professional career.