Most Read Army Leader Articles of the First Year
One year ago, I launched The Army Leader, based on the view that when peers share their leadership experiences and understanding it improves everyone’s collective leadership ability.
Over the last 12 months the site has had almost 90,000 visitors reading 40 articles. Over 1,200 people subscribe and get emails whenever a new article is published. As well as readers in the UK, I’m grateful for the large number of regular readers from the US, Canada and Australia – and of course further afield. Particular thanks to the one reader in Syria, wherever you are…
16 authors, both serving and former military, have written for the site. Five of these have been current or former soldiers, reinforcing the fact that leader development isn’t just an officer sport.
Below are the five most popular articles from the site’s first year, ranked by number of views. Two of the articles reached over 5,000 readers in the three days after publication – huge for a site of this size.
So, what do the five most read articles of the first year tell us? I think they tell us that soldiers and officers have plenty to share; that RSMs maintain a special place when it comes to teaching us how to lead; and that articles with teaching value keep getting read.
Here are the top five articles.
1. WO1 (RSM) Steve Spud Armon. RSM Common Sense
Over 19,000 readers
Steve Armon’s reflection on his leadership experience was by far the most popular article of the year; it was read more than the next two most popular articles combined. It’s not often you get advice so succinct and to the point. Steve had five pieces of advice for aspiring junior commanders based on his common sense approach to leading soldiers in combat. It was good enough for Johnny Mercer MP to simply tweet “Read. This. Blog.” Read it here.
2. CSgt Aaron Kerin. The Unpopular Man – Leading as a Lance Corporal
Over 9,000 readers
Aaron Kerin reflected on one of the most difficult ranks in the army – the first rung of leadership: Lance Corporal. Why is it to difficult to lead your friends and what do you do when you have to grip those friends? Aaron’s candid advice included his thoughts on getting it wrong and the advice his father-in-law gave him about leadership. Units and Army Education Centres asked to use it in their JNCO CLM and leadership development packages; as a result, the article was turned into a downloadable pdf with a question set for discussion. You can download the pdf here and read the article here.
3. Maj Will Meddings. The Lord Down Here – Discipline Lessons from RSM John C Lord MVO MBE
Over 9,000 readers
Published on 16 April, the anniversary of the liberation of Stalag Luft XIB, this is the inspiring story of RSM John C Lord’s role in restoring the prisoners’ will to live. JC Lord was the first RSM of 3 PARA and was captured at Arnhem. His conduct in Stalag Luft XIB makes him sound like an old-school RSM. The reality is that he was a modern leader who motivated and inspired his followers. If you enjoy the article check out the link to his speech to the Army Staff College. He was the first soldier to lecture to the officers studying there, and explained to them the importance of discipline and self-discipline. Read the article here.
4. Maj Mark Shercliff. A Junior Officer’s Thoughts on Staff Leadership
Almost 8,000 readers
Every couple of months there is a spike of about 400 readers of this article, which leads me to think it’s included on a staff college reading list somewhere. Mark Shercliff wrote what a generation of young staff officers wanted to tell their SO1s and Assistant Heads – but weren’t asked or never plucked up the courage to say. He went on to present his article to the General Staff Induction Course, providing them the benefit of these same views. If you are leading on the staff, or simply toiling as a staff officer, his article will remind you the leading on the staff is as important as anywhere else. Read the article here.
5. The Army Leader. James Mattis’s Leadership Philosophy
Over 6,000 readers
Everyone loves a bit of James Mattis. Earlier this year I received an email from a friend in PJHQ, who had been sent it by a USMC colleague, who had got it on a round-robin email making its way around the USMC. Whatever the provenance, it was a round-up of leadership (and policy) quotes and statements from the current US Secretary of Defence. It makes an insightful read and gives you an armful of leadership quotes. Read the article here, and if you enjoy it you can also read his email on the importance of professional military reading, here.
What could next year hold? Well I haven’t had a submission from the Royal Marines or RAF Regiment, or from a serving 1* or above. Let’s see what the next 12 months deliver.
And to those of you who’ve been part of making the first year such a great success, thanks.
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Media Credits: Images © Crown Copyright under Open Government Licence v3.0, authors’ own collections and open source.