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Foundations of Army Leadership

Good leadership is important for the success and continuity of any organization. In particular, the army holds leadership in high regard and strives to create efficient leaders. The responsibility of army leaders is to guide their juniors by providing them with purpose and motivation. Additionally, army leadership is founded on principles such as selflessness, loyalty, courage, and discipline. Leaders are also required to be intellectually proficient and display poised demeanor. This analysis covers the foundations of army leadership which include the duties of a leader, their attributes, and levels of leadership.

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Duties of an Army Leader

Leaders influence people not just through the instructions they give, but also through their words and actions. Army leaders drive people to accomplish missions and meet other organizational goals. In general, army leadership involves providing purpose, direction, and motivation to subordinates (Munteanu, 2016). Giving purpose means showing soldiers the rationale behind what is required of them. A leader can provide rationale by giving direct orders or command. The purpose should be clear so that soldiers can consequently anticipate their obligations and perform them without instruction (Swain, 2017).

Next, giving direction involves stipulating how a leader wants a soldier to accomplish a task. Although juniors should be allowed to use their own initiative and imagination, it is necessary for the superiors to dictate their expectations. Finally, army leaders have the responsibility to motivate those they lead. They should understand them as individuals and find ways to align their uniqueness to the overall team goals. Proper leadership requires a leader to be a source of purpose, direction, and drive.

Leader Attributes

A military leader must have certain characteristics since their attributes affect how they lead. A person’s character is shaped by their background, education, beliefs, and lived experiences. A military leader should strive to be of unwavering sound moral character. Some of the qualities that make a good army leader include discipline, courage, selflessness, loyalty, respect, and honor (United States of America Department of the Army, 2019). When they possess these traits and many more, army leaders exhibit virtue. First, discipline is an important quality to have because it enables one to be consistent in their service.

When one has discipline, it means they do the right thing even if it is difficult (de Almeida Serapião, 2020). It also pushes them to do seemingly mundane activities which are, however, fundamental for the proper functioning of the armed forces. Second, courage empowers military officers to perform their duty even in the face of danger or adversity. In their line of work, soldiers sometimes face dangers. For instance, during war, they are usually in physical danger that could result in injuries or even death. Courage is the ability to overcome fear and do what is expected of a person. It also means standing firmly in one’s beliefs, values, and principles.

Army leaders must be courageous because they act as role models for their juniors. Third, military service requires selflessness since soldiers must put the welfare of the army and that of their country before their own. When called to serve, soldiers sometimes have to leave their families and other elements of their personal life. Additionally, army leaders must prioritize their subordinates and cater to their wellbeing (United States of America Department of the Army, 2019). Selfness is a necessary trait to be a good army leader or even soldier. Fourth, military officials must be loyal to their colleagues as well as to their country. Loyalty is an important trait in the army because soldier need to know that their counterparts are trustworthy. Finally, military leaders must be respectful of others and the code that guides army operations.

These qualities discussed and many more form the foundation of army leadership. Aside from the character attributes above, army leaders must also have good presence and intellectual capacity. Presence refers to how a leader is perceived by others based on their outward appearance, words, actions, and demeanor (Munteanu, 2016). A good army leader radiates confidence, composure, and resilience.

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They should demonstrate calmness during stressful situations and project self-confidence. A commanding presence also involves physical fitness and good posture. On the other hand, intellectual capacity relates to the mental capabilities of a person that determines their effectiveness. People have varying mental capacities, and army leaders are expected to be intellectually competent to oversee their juniors. To do so, they must be innovative, make sound decisions, have knowledge in relevant fields, and be flexible. The character, presence, and intellectual capacity of an army officer determines how they lead others.

Levels of Leadership

The army comprises three levels of leadership: direct, organizational, and strategic leadership. At the lowest level is direct leadership which is concerned with tasks. It can be found in units such as squads, departments, troops, and platoons. Under this form of leadership, military officers influence the activities of their juniors. It involves the face-to-face communication between leaders and their subordinates. For instance, they assign tasks, provide guidance, and oversee the tasks assigned to their juniors (Swain, 2017). Aside from supervision of day-to-day duties, direct leaders coach and mentor their subordinates.

Ultimately, the goal of direct leadership is to mold junior military officers into good future leaders. In the second level of leadership known as organizational leadership, leaders are in charge of systems and processes and exercise influence via the subordinate leaders. They do not interact directly with the junior officers but instead, lead various sections of the larger organization (United States of America Department of the Army, 2019).

For instance, they may be responsible for coordinating and synchronizing activities between different departments. Although subordinate units and departments do not depend on the daily guidance of their organizational leader, the leader makes times to interact with them. They assess the extent to which the junior officers have understood and implemented the instructions given to them. The goal of organizational leadership is to ensure that all units are coordinated towards a common goal.

Finally, strategic leadership involves the coordination of numerous organizational units. Strategic leaders are typically in charge of a very large number of people and have the potential to influence the entire army (United States of America Department of the Army, 2019). In their role, they take into account elements such as civilian programs, army budget, and congressional hearing. Organizational leadership is the highest level of army leadership and such leaders shape the ethics and culture that guide military operations.


In the army, leadership is highly structured and follows a well-defined hierarchy. Every member of the service has their individual responsibilities that contribute to the overall success of the army. Army leaders are tasked with motivating their juniors to perform their duties. They are also in charge of overseeing them and ensuring they meet their goals efficiently. For this reason, they must have certain qualities such as courage, discipline, and selflessness. These virtues are required of all military leaders regardless of their level of leadership.


de Almeida Serapião, F. (2020). Leadership effectiveness in the army: A perspective from the US army war college. Web.

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Munteanu, A. (2016). Army leadership. Web.

Swain, R. M., & Pierce, A. C. (2017). The Armed Forces Officer. Government Printing Office.

United States of America Department of the Army. (2019). ADP 6-22. Army Leadership and the Profession. Web.

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