The Army has known for a while that some of its leaders are terrible. The number one reason cited by junior officers and NCOs when leaving the Army continues to be, “Bad Leadership.” Now the Army is moving to make a little used voluntary evaluation mandatory.
The evaluation takes input from peers and subordinates into account, sifts through those results and weighs them against a unit’s overall opinion of the local command climate. Hopefully this will give leaders a better understanding on how our actions and attitudes affect the lives of our Soldiers and co-leaders.
During my run through various officer schools and training programs over the course of three years, each school I attended had at least one peer evaluation. I loved those evaluations, they enabled me to identify and correct flaws in my leadership style that my ego blinded me to. My first Armor School evaluation had me in relative poor standing; I was a bit of a dick and would micromanage any person who I felt was not capable of the job at hand. In my head, I was trying to ensure mission success by shoring up my platoon’s weak spots. Later I came to the understanding that by doing that, I was negatively impacting the self esteem of some and denying them the opportunity to improve their performance through experience. So, I swallowed my pride and changed how I led.
When the next round of peer evaluations came around, I was now rated 3rd overall in the class, a massive improvement that came from understanding the views of others and not just my biased self. I was still listed as being a dick, but since I modified how I applied my cruel dickish witticisms, this quality was now listed in the “sustain” column.
Later, when I went to my first unit peer evaluations suddenly disappeared and now I am rated solely by supervisors three levels of leadership above me. I still make it a habit of asking senior NCOs to evaluate me over a smoke, and continue to work to better conduct myself. But, that stems from my first encounter with a negative peer evaluation. I see many of my peers who continue to game the system by doing everything their commander wants but, end up breaking the backs of their Soldiers in order to do so.
I can’t wait for the new evaluation to take effect. However, I am concerned that many officers won’t have sufficient time in leadership positions to practice the art once they receive the new feedback. Currently even a stellar officer who gets selected for every command position during their career path will spend only about 3 years in direct command of Soldiers and units, the rest is staff work. But the 360 degree evaluations are a step in the right direction.
(Source: Army Times)