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News > Commentary - Professional strength through mentorship
Professional strength through mentorship

Posted 1/10/2013   Updated 1/10/2013 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Army Maj. Gen. Michael Garrett
USARAK commanding general

1/10/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In Field Manual 6-22, "Army Leadership," the word mentor is referred to 67 times, compared to just 13 times in the previous version.

That indicates to me the Army is working to define and institute the idea of mentorship into the culture of our profession to prevent it mistakenly being perceived as just a trendy catchphrase.

I value every mentor I have ever had. I owe much of my success to the time, guidance and advice mentors have provided me over the course of my career. My first mentor was my father, Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Garrett.

My father taught me leadership concepts and principles, which have become part of who I am and how I lead. One of my proudest days was when he and my wife pinned me with my first stars.

As I have progressed in the Army, I've sought out opportunities to pass on the knowledge, insight and perspective my mentors endowed me with to those who looked to me for advice and leadership. Any young leader would be fortunate to have the benefit of a mentor outside of their chain of command who takes personal interest in their career, life and success.

Mentoring is not a formal program. There are no reports to be filled out or evaluations to complete. The Army will not require an after action review to be submitted. It is a personal relationship where a seasoned leader invests time, effort and experience in furthering the professional development and personal abilities of junior leaders.

We must also respond to the vital needs of junior leaders in order to prepare them for greater responsibilities and achievements in the future. These often become life-long relationships and can be very fulfilling for leaders who see those they have mentored succeed.

This philosophy goes beyond what is required to be successful in a regular duty day. No one is going to tell you to have your mentoring done before you go home for the day.
But I believe those with wisdom earned through hardships, trials and achievement have a moral obligation to pass on their hard-earned wisdom to the future leaders of our Army.

Mentors are not appointed and cannot choose who will be their protégé, or mentee. It is the junior leader who picks the mentor. This is usually informal and happens when someone junior meets a leader who they want to be like one day, somebody they see as a role model to emulate.

I expect leaders at every level to be prepared to offer candid advice when it is sought by their juniors. This is how mentoring relationships are often initiated.

For Soldiers who are seeking a mentor, I recommend looking for a leader in your career field who is about two grades senior to you and outside your chain of command. Also, try asking your immediate supervisors and leaders for ideas and advice on who they think would be a good mentor for you. This method has worked for others and it can work for you too.

Senior leaders who take the time to bestow the leadership of tomorrow with knowledge are investing in the stock and trade of professional soldiering.

Those who decide to be mentors are looking beyond their own success by exhibiting a focus on the art of leadership and the future of our Army. Mentorship is characteristic of good leadership and ultimately it is good for the betterment of our Army.

I enjoy my job more every day. I am grateful to all of you for doing your very best, for serving our nation and especially for giving me the opportunity to be your commander. It is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I'm tremendously proud of each of you for the hard work, dedication and sacrifices you continue to make to guarantee our shared success as America's Arctic Warriors.

I am constantly looking for new and better ways to serve you and will continue devoting myself to the ready units, strong families and Arctic Tough leaders of the Last Frontier.

Arctic Warrior! Arctic Tough!

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