Learning Trust: A Leadership Lesson From Twelve Years at War

  • Colonel Stephen C. Rogers

In the midst of significant transition, it is important that the Army reflects on what it has experienced over the last twelve years of combat and takes advantage of the opportunity to improve its ability to execute its core missions and meet its obligations. While there is much to be learned from recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, the lessons in leadership have the greatest implication for enduring effects on and for the force. By understanding the origins of mission command and approaching its implementation from a perspective of changing organizational culture, the Army stands to reap benefits well beyond merely empowering subordinate leaders. More importantly, truly inculcating mission command will also serve as a catalyst to an even greater lesson that Army leaders must learn: the ability to dialogue within, across, and outside the Force, undeterred by the trepidation of speaking truth to power when presenting dissenting views, alternative perspectives, and potentially unpopular options.