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Leadership Influence: Be-Know-Do

The United States Army has historically been one of the most complex, best run organizations in the world. Foundational to Army's culture is strong leadership and an emphasis on leadership development.

Leadership Influence

The U.S. Army has, at its core, the principle that soldiers must be prepared to win the war before the battle begins. The model used for their preparation is Be-Know-Do. Army leaders must be able to act decisively and effectively in the face of challenging situations, rapid change, and ambiguity.

What is Be-Know-Do and what does it mean?

BE has to do with internal character.

It is who you are. You have to believe in yourself, your team, and the mission. Somehow you have to influence others to believe in you. Be authentic. Align your character and behaviors. When you make a mistake, then own it, and take responsibility for fixing it. Be a person of integrity and stick to your word. Be trustworthy, always doing what you say you will do. Live your life with no excuses, blaming or whining. BE means taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. Be a model of the right thing to do.

KNOW has to do with your competence and knowledge in doing your job.

Without the knowledge and competence a leader will lose legitimacy in the eyes of others. Leaders must strive to be an expert in the space in which they operate.

DO is the fruit of BE and KNOW.

This is where results live. It requires a relentless focus on the right priorities—those that move you toward accomplishing the mission or fulfilling a bigger purpose. It means listening to others and understanding the situation before acting. Always act to do the right thing consistent with your values and those of the organization. Do your duty even when you don’t feel like it. Always keep your emotions in check.

Aristotle was right: to live a fruitful, happy and productive life you must first develop your character into a set of habits. Add to character the gaining of competence. Character and competence then will produce excellence in all that you do.


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