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An Analysis of Be, Know, Do: Leadership the Army Way

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  1. Introduction
  2. An analysis of Be, Know, Do
  3. Leadership the Army way
  4. Analysis
  5. Conclusion

The Army's approach to leadership development is powerful ? and is thereby widely applicable to civilians and other organizations such as NGOs. Three words can summarize the philosophy that lies behind the Army's leader development. Be, Know, Do are ?the key characteristics of an Army leader that summarize the leader attributes and core leader competencies.? (5) It enables a leader to develop all aspects of him or herself through the core seven Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

Be, Know, Do asserts that central to leadership is an ability to favorably influence the behavior of others. On the surface this seems like a fairly simple task. Commanders tell their subordinates what to do, as CEOs direct their VPs and Directors, and so on, down the decision-making hierarchy. However, that's not all there is to leadership ? indeed, giving direction is only one of the three tools of leadership. The other two are providing knowledge and showing purpose. Knowing and being. Through the sharing of knowledge, showing another person the purpose of their task allows them to better understand and appreciate the role they play in the task or organization.

They will do their jobs better as a result, and perhaps even more importantly, once they understand the larger purpose they may offer their own suggestions and ideas and use their own ingenuity to better accomplish the goals. The final component, providing personal experience, involves relating to others and highlighting the gains for them individually. A motivated follower will be more productive. These three tools of leadership complement and reinforce each other.

[...] DO The ?Do? aspect of Be, Know, Do is the active component of this philosophy. In order to be effective, leaders must be able to apply what they know. This application is known as operating actions. Operating actions are used to achieve a short-term goal. As officers advance in rank, operating actions become more and more complex. A large component of ?Do? is best summarized as espirit de corps, ?a shared sense of comradeship and devotion to the cause among members of a group, team, or unit.? Leaders must strive to develop this principle within their subordinates. [...]

[...] Loyalty is the backbone of the Be, Know, Do philosophy. All citizens (military and civilian) must support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Loyalty must also be present between leaders and subordinates. Subordinates are loyal when a leader deserves it. Leaders who are loyal treat subordinates fairly, train them well, and never allow them to be abused. Subordinates who have faith in their leaders are much more likely to be loyal. For example, during WWII General Jonathan Wainwright was placed in front line command where he had to deal with enemy fire, exhaustion, and malnutrition. [...]

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