Photo: Maj. Gen. Stephen Maranian (right), talks about the art of command with Lt. Col. Brad DeLoach following a change of command ceremony in Illisheim, Germany, in February 2022.
Not everyone that joins the United States Army does so with the intent to serve a 20+ year-long career similar to that of Steve Maranian. While some join for the adventure, some to pay for college, and some to improve their current situation, others enlist as a matter of family tradition. Whatever their reason for joining, new soldiers become part of one of the world’s largest and most successful teams – the U.S. Army.
Whether serving for three years or 30 years, making the most of your time in service involves rolling up your sleeves and making a difference. A good way for a soldier or officer to maximize their effectiveness is to be an exceptional teammate. This article outlines why being a good teammate is an important element in a soldier’s career.
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Steve Maranian Shares Why Being a Good Teammate Matters
For over 35 years, Major General Maranian has observed the leadership traits of thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers (NCOs). During his role as the Provost of Army University, he had oversight of the Army’s School for Command Preparation, which is more commonly referred to as “PCC” (the Pre-Command Course). He also oversaw the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.
He also led the U.S. Army’s War College, a preparatory curriculum for officers to serve as Colonels in the Army and across the joint service force. These are the U.S. Army’s most significant leadership laboratories, and places where the most successful officers and NCOs come to expand their knowledge and hone their leadership skills.
Throughout the years, many studies have been done to determine the skills, traits and attributes required to rise in rank and position in the Army. The results revealed that soldier’s need the ability to form and lead diverse teams and become good members of multiple teams.
A Team of Teams
As Steve Maranian sees it, the Army is a team of teams. At the most basic level, the lowest echelon group in the Army’s structure is called a team. Two or more teams form a squad or section, and typically, three or more squads form a platoon. Platoons form companies, which form battalions, and on it goes. All officers and NCOs fit into a structure where they are simultaneously members of multiple teams.
For example, a platoon leader leads a team of several squads but is also a second-tier leader in their company, battalion and brigade formations. It is the joint efforts of these formations and the teams that make them that must be successful if the Army is to win on the battlefield or be successful in training.
Making the Broader Organization Better
As Steve Maranian’s experience reveals, the most effective leaders are ones that go beyond effectively leading their own formations and taking care of the soldiers assigned to them. Effective leaders make decisions and operate in a way that makes the broader organization better.
A platoon leader who only cares about making his platoon the best in the company is limited in his value. His peer, who not only leads her platoon well but also looks out for the overall success of the company, is far more valuable. Being a good teammate to her fellow platoon leaders is what makes the difference.
How you perform your job matters and sharing your highs and lows with your team strengthens your leadership. Sharing both best practices and failures with peers so that they can learn from someone else’s experience accelerates learning beyond one’s own formation. This takes maturity, humility, and self-confidence – all traits that are common to successful military leaders.
Steve Maranian Offers a Final Thought on Why Your Reputation Matters
As officers and NCOs rise in rank and serve at successively higher levels throughout a long career in the Army, the pool of peers and co-workers shrinks. Once you achieve colonel or sergeant major, your reputation has been established and is hard to change. When hiring officers and NCOs to serve in positions of significant responsibility, this reputation becomes a significant factor in your eligibility.
Being a good teammate, someone that peers want to work with, is the single most decisive attribute that Steve Maranian and other officers look for. The Army is a team sport. If the Army is to be successful in its mission to deter potential adversaries or when deterrence fails, win decisively on the battlefield. each member must all be rowing in the same direction.