Leaders developing LeadersLeaders developing Leaders

Sub Ten Anderson Fetzer Rodrigues

Investing in the growth of subordinates by forming a foundation for high-performance teams is one of the most important aspects of leadership. Good leaders work tirelessly to develop people, seeking to ensure not only their legacy, but also the improvement of the entire organization. After all, leaders who do not invest in the growth of their successors remain hostages of their leadership, without having someone to represent them in times of absence, right?

Developing leaders is not an easy task. In a nutshell, leadership is the ability to influence people to do the right thing all the time, even if no one is watching. However, the leader’s responsibilities go far beyond this. Leaders, including all military personnel at their respective levels, must be constantly concerned with seeking new knowledge, modern techniques, and ways to awaken leadership in the youngest military personnel, because these are the next to occupy positions and functions of responsibility within the institution and they must have a perfect understanding of their role as leaders.

Among all the roles played by the graduates, being present and serving as a reference is more than just showing up and being seen. Their actions and words, as well as the way they behave, must convey confidence and encourage leadership development, as well as set positive examples that can be replicated. Graduates who are able to do what they ask of their subordinates generate a positive reputation that contributes to their effective presence and to the enhancement of indispensable attributes in those they lead.

The responsibilities of military personnel change as they assume new leadership positions. In this sense, to ensure that the quality of future graduates does not diminish, everyone has a responsibility to hone their skills and continually develop their subordinates. In addition to materializing the leadership of the platoon circle, the non-commissioned officers are directly responsible for teaching leadership to the more modern graduates. Example is the master pillar and influence is the key word for such leadership.

Developing leadership can be a laborious task at first; however, in the long run, the leaders themselves will create a cycle of development that will make the job easier. All that is needed is to kick-start it. The following list presents alternatives and ideas to be applied at any level, seeking to mature leadership in the younger military. It is divided into two parts: creating a culture of leadership, and providing direction and motivation.

Creating a leadership culture

  • Set an example – this is the basic requirement for a leader developer. The leader influences subordinates by demonstrating assurance and acting as is expected of his subordinates at all times. In doing so, he will create desired role models and inspire his subordinates to behave in the same way.
  • Be available – the development of other leaders will be proportional to the time allocated to them. When the leader makes his time available to talk to his subordinates, besides preventing problems from arising, he shows that he is interested in knowing what happens to them. Time is a very expensive commodity, and when subordinates realize that the leader is investing his most expensive resource in them, they will seek to repay the investment.
  • Show empathy – Empathy is the ability to understand others. Empathy enables the leader to better understand how the various decisions made on a day-to-day basis in the organization influence feelings and reactions in subordinates. Empathy shows that the leader cares about the person behind the military and facilitates positive relationship building. Demonstrating empathy is not about agreeing with complaints or negative feelings, but listening and explaining the “why” of certain decisions or situations.

Providing direction and motivation

  • Praise for good performance – no one likes to invest their time in unimportant tasks, even the most mundane ones. Young leaders will put all their energy into accomplishing them in the best way possible, and the leader should notice this kind of attitude, rewarding it with praise, either in public or in private. It doesn’t take much time or formality to give a compliment; however, it must be sincere, otherwise it will cause a negative effect. Praise has a great power to motivate people; when it is well applied, it brings out a sense of recognition and opens the door to motivation and learning.
  • Listen to ideas and suggestions – situations don’t always go as planned. All military activities provide opportunities for the leader to exercise leadership and develop his subordinates. When witnessing these opportunities, the leader can ask his apprentice how the task is going; what would be the best way to accomplish it; and if he has suggestions that would make it easier to accomplish. This interest will provide a sense of importance and appreciation for what is being done, especially if, in future similar situations, the young leader realizes that his suggestions are being used.
  • Provide feedback – Leaders need to know how their actions are being perceived. This is the only way they can know whether or not they are on the right track. Feedback is a leader’s gift to promote learning and increase the development of the young apprentices. By providing honest and objective feedback, a leader will encourage and motivate his subordinates to keep going in the right direction or to correct their ways, increasing their performance and improving their ability to adapt and, above all, to learn.

The Army depends directly on the performance of its leaders to fulfill its constitutional mission. No matter how structured the institution is, there will always be room for innovation and for the search for processes that improve the motivation and satisfaction of its members. The leader’s success, despite being linked to motivation and action planning, will also depend on persistence and the will to improve and not get discouraged when faced with obstacles and difficulties that may appear along the way. By developing leaders, the graduate, besides contributing to the successful fulfillment of the institutional mission, will give continuity to his work in the military profession.


US Army. (2019). Army Leadership and the Profession (ADP 6-22). Disponível em: < https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/ARN20039-ADP_6-22-001-WEB-0.pdf>. Acesso em: 10 de janeiro de 2022.

MAXWELL, John. C. The 360 Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization. 2ª Edição. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2011.

About the author:

Sub Lt Anderson Fetzer Rodrigues – Joined the ranks of the Army on March 18, 1996. In 1998, he graduated as Gunnery Sergeant at the School of Sergeants of the Armed Forces (ESA). He has completed the Improvement Course at EASA (2008) and the Improvement Course in the Artillery Weapon at Escuela Sargento Cabral – Argentina (2010). He also holds the CHQAO (2021) and the Sergeant Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeant Major Academy (USASMA) – Fort Bliss, Texas (2015).

He was Deputy Commanding Officer at the 4th Mechanized Cavalry Brigade in Dourados (MS) from 2015-2018 and an Instructor at the USASMA Military Operations Department (2019-2021). His civilian education includes an undergraduate degree in Human Resource Management, an MBA in Human Resource Leadership and Coaching, an MBA in Project Management, and a Postgraduate degree in Higher Education Teaching, all from Anhanguera/UNIDERP College. He is currently the Deputy of Command of the Army General Secretary.

*** Translated with by the DEFCONPress Team ***


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