Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 60

Now all you recruities [sic] what’s drafted to-day, You shut up your rag-box an’ ‘ark to my lay, An’ I’ll sing you a soldier as far as I may: A soldier what’s fit for a soldier. —Rudyard Kipling T oday’s Army is well on its way to codifying a professional military ethic (PME) that will define our service and ensure that we retain our nation’s trust, but a difficulty remains in translating this high ideal to the individual soldier.1 Discussions in the past have often highlighted a need to successfully articulate and decipher the PME from our learning institutions to the frontline “strategic corporal” in order to have an impact on our organizational success.2 The implied transformation from citizens into soldiers into ethical leaders will take place in a multitude of forums from institutional settings to professional mentorship, and this article cannot cover them all. Instead, let us turn our focus to one of the most readily adapted rituals we have in our service. 58 Friday afternoons across the Army, commanders and their senior NCOs face their formations in the perfect setting for a discussion of the PME—the weekend safety brief. Sadly, because of a long-standing practice, the large majority of these opportunities end up wasted as leaders attempt to check the block with unmemorable maxims for soldiers’ immediate behavior. This usually comes in the form of a list of things soldiers should do and things soldiers should avoid. This custom could accomplish much more if we designed it to focus beyond this simple formality and began to shift soldiers closer to a commitment to the Army values using memorable engagement. Adopting a model of transformational stories from recent business literature will provide leaders with a method that allows them to truly engage soldiers in discussions about the PME while continuing to attack the immediate concerns that the weekend safety brief should address. In lieu of the customary mode for these safety briefings, this article details a better technique for ensuring a lasting impact on our soldiers. That method is to communicate a vision through memorable stories. September-October 2014  MILITARY REVIEW