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The source of success in the military is leadership accountability. As current and future leaders in the profession, it is imperative to hold soldiers and their leaders accountable to have a successful military fighting force. It is the foundation from which to progress and accomplish tasks. The purpose of this essay is to discuss what accountability is, importance of accountability in the army, roles in accountability, as well as how and why we apply accountability in our respective roles and assignments in the military.
The military defines accountability as “the obligation imposed by law or lawful order or regulation on an officer or other person for keeping an accurate record of property, documents, or funds” (DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, 2020). An additional definition is found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary to be the “willingness or obligation to explain one’s actions or to admit being the cause of a problem” (Merriam-Webster Unabridged online, 2020). Although the military definition primarily focuses on keeping records, both definitions apply to leadership in the military. Accountability is not only about keeping records, but about being willing or obligated to answer for results. It pertains to Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and junior enlisted soldiers.
Officers are responsible for executing successful missions and rely heavily on accountability through their NCOs. They must trust their NCOs to account for their soldiers and be ready so that the mission is executed successfully. “Throughout the history of the U.S. Army, the NCO has been its backbone” (The Non-Commissioned Officer’s Guide, 2020). NCO’s must account through detailed and accurate records for their soldiers, their paperwork, equipment, training, etc. and be able to report that information up their chain of command. NCOs will always be the most involved when it comes to accountability. They are directly linked to the soldiers as their first-line leaders and will have the most influence on their soldiers’ success and mission success. They act as a liaison between Officers and their soldiers. They act as an advocate for their soldiers while still accomplishing the mission set out by the Commander. They uphold the standard and ensure that individual soldiers progress and take accountability for themselves.
Regardless of position, every soldier is responsible for everything they do and fail to do in the military. In roles of leadership, that accountability grows because soldiers’ actions fall under their leaders’ responsibility. There must be trust between the leaders and those whom they lead to always do the right thing. “Accountability in the workplace is defined as doing the right thing consistently, day in and day out, in tasks and relationship interactions to fulfill or further the mission of the organization” (Lt. Col. Lionel Lyde, 2013). We must trust others in our units that tasks and assignments will get done. Though assignments will vary based on factors such as location, occupational specialty, and mission, all soldiers will perform similar leadership tasks at some point in time. Some of these tasks include counseling, mentoring, accounting for valuable equipment, training, record management, as well as other tasks associated with ensuring soldier and unit readiness. Accounting for the completion of these tasks will determine the success of the unit’s mission and the effectiveness of the Army as a whole.
For success and effectiveness to exist there needs to be clear communication and follow up throughout the chain of command. To accomplish this soldiers must communicate through phone calls, emails, and face-to-face interaction consistently. Soldiers need to track equipment and paperwork through proper recording and documentation procedures. Soldiers also need to set achievable goals and monitor self-progress and that of soldiers under their command. Goals and expectations can be tracked through Non-Commissioned Officer Evaluation Reports (NCOER) and counseling. Lastly, soldiers must be proactive in volunteering for leadership roles and assignments as well as “exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders” (NCO creed, 2020). Doing so will provide learning opportunities and well-rounded soldiers who collectively ensure that tasks are accomplished and that soldiers are functioning at their highest level. Otherwise, not only are soldiers failing to do their duty, but failing themselves and their soldiers.
Failure to be accountable will result in mission failure. Every soldier must account for themselves and those in their stewardship. If soldiers want to accomplish the mission they need to make accountability a priority. To do that, soldiers need to know what accountability is and how it is achieved. It is a responsibility that falls on soldiers from the highest echelons of the military to the lowest ranking soldiers. Through accountability in leadership, soldiers will be successful individually and organizationally.
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