Three Meter Zone: Common Sense Leadership for NCOs. Welcome to the world of the 

noncommissioned officer, the ultimate in hands-on, front-line leadership: the three meter 

zone where the work of the soldier occurs. ... a full fledged study of leadership for NCOs, 

by an NCO.
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How You Get To The Top Matters

J. D. Pendry

"Ambition, old as mankind, the immemorial weakness of the strong"
-Vita Sackville-West

We all have goals and dreams that we should work hard toward everyday. If we reach our goals then maybe we can realize our dreams. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices to reach those goals. What we can never sacrifice during the quest are our values, ethics, basic human decency, and the trust others put in us.

Noncommissioned officers have a creed. If lived by, it ensures we won't sacrifice those things important to our soldiers and us. Too many (and one is too many) noncommissioned officers have been accused of violating their sacred trust in their relationships with subordinates. Most of these leaders claim to uphold and live by the NCO Creed. Probably all of them can recite the words if asked. If guilty of violating soldier trust they failed to grasp the meaning of some key ideals embraced by the creed that would have kept them on track.

"No one is more professional than I..." That first statement in our creed sums up the total commitment noncommissioned officers must have to be successful and meet the needs of their soldiers and the Army. Being a total professional embodies all the things in our leadership teaching; the Army's personal values of candor, courage, competence, commitment and compassion; the elements of professional Army ethic - the Army's core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. It also embodies the mastery of the leadership competencies.

"I ... will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the corps, the military service and my country." The actions of a few noncommissioned officers, given enough attention, influence how all soldiers, officers, and even those outside our Army view the noncommissioned officer corps. If we violate the trust placed in us or give a less than professional example we taint the entire corps.

"I will never use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety." That's the granddaddy of all the statements in our creed. It embodies the value of selfless service and ensures that we look after our two basic responsibilities - accomplishment of our mission and the welfare of our soldiers.

There is an expression that says, "It takes ability to get to the top. It takes character to stay there." If you're reaching for the top, ensure that the roadmap you use is the right one. It's quite lonely at the top. If you get there and you use unethical means to do it, it won't be long before you realize that how you get to the top does matter.

Copyright© J. D. Pendry