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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Leadership

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

(2/2015) Army Doctrine and custom teaches to "lead from the front." This is taken literally in formation and figuratively to mean that we should lead by example. As a part of the Army ROTC program, we are taught every day how to be leaders in preparation for our coming careers as officers. Before we are ever taught about tactics or branches, we are taught about leadership styles and the qualities of a good leader. We see leadership everywhere we look; we learn the 7 Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage, exemplified by the acronym LDRSHIP. Each week we are given opportunities to exhibit and practice our leadership abilities. While all the leadership exercises, opportunities, and lessons I do during training are crucial, I believe I cannot stand alone. I know that my leadership training and growth is actually coming from others leading by example.

From the seniors in the program to the cadre, there are other people leading me every day, and their examples are far more valuable than any PowerPoint lesson could ever be. Instead of reading about an objectively good leader or watching slides about how to direct others, I watch the best leaders every day. The cadre in our ROTC program embody the idea that one should lead by example, and not only do they follow all written rules and standards, but they also go above and beyond to cultivate a unique environment within our program. We learn by the example of two people who have firsthand experience and knowledge of what our lives will someday be like. They have lived it, and they have held the positions we have held, but again, they do more. They donít just show us how to be solid officers; they show us how to create a safe environment and how to protect each other. There are daily examples of this but I think the best ones come from SFC Beatty, who is a cadre member in the program who teaches the MS Is and IIsófreshmen and sophomores.

Because I didnít join the ROTC until my second semester of freshman year, this past semester I had to make up the fall freshman course that I had missed. As a result, I was in class with the current freshmen as well as with the sophomores for a semester. Throughout the course we learned necessary introductory leadership things that weíll hear approximately a million times over the next few years, but there were a few times when we saw a unique form of leadership that I donít think can be taught in a presentation. After a day of learning map reading, Sergeant Beatty asked the other two MS IIs in the class and me to stay after. He told us he noticed one of the freshmen seemed to keep to himself a lot and had made remarks about eating alone. He continued asking us to make sure we look out for him and include him in what we were doing, both within and outside of the program. This hit me in a weird way. This was truly caring for someone, and thatís not always what the Army is recognized for. Here was someone who had probably never been bullied or left out in his life, because Iím almost positive he has been winning fights since birth, going out of his way to ask us to look out for someone who doesnít seem to fit in. The lessons in leadership learned in those two minutes were more than I could have gotten from a whole class. Truly look out for others, care about others in a real and applicable way, pay attention to peopleís habits and lifestyle, and be proactive by taking action before anything goes wrong. In that moment, all of this and so much more were shown in action.

Later, we, as a program, faced an obstacle. What was important was not the incident, though, but the way I saw everyone come together in a way that resembled more of a family than a program. I can give credit to my peers for looking out for each other, or to the upperclassmen for their offers of support, whether in the form of homework help or help in times of trouble, but the truth is that it comes from the leadership in the program. We watch every day as the people who lead us set an example to be more than we need to be and do more than what is required of us. By doing it themselves, they teach us to dig deeper, care more, work harder and essentially just be better in everything we do.

I donít know if youíve ever had the chance to experience what leading by example is like. Most of you reading this have probably had coaches, teachers, and mentors who might not always live out what they teach. Others have probably had people who live as an example of what they teach. There is no question that the latter is the more effective style. Not only have leaders like that given me the knowledge I need to grow into being a leader, but theyíve also shown me how to carry it out. Because of this program and these leaders, Iíve become more of a leader than I ever thought I could be. When I started college I wasnít a leader; I would have never stepped up to do the things I can now. I was Secretary of just about every club and activity in high school simply because I was scared to run for President.

I donít think I would be scared anymore. I owe that to the men and women who teach by example every day and prove to me that I have the ability to lead people, and someday Iíll be able to do it well. Until that day, Iíll continue to learn from the people who have it mastered.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary