By Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard, III Corps Public Affairs

Soldiers from III Corps listen during a professional development session with Simon Sinek
Soldiers from all over III Corps listen to Simon Sinek during a leadership professional development session, Fort Hood, Texas, July 30, 2021. Soldiers from Fort Hood, Riley, Carson, Bliss, and Sill joined virtually to listen. (U.S. Army photo by 1st. Lt. James Grays)

FORT HOOD, Texas — Leaders from all over III Corps, near and far, assembled in person and virtually for a professional development session with a British-American author and motivational speaker.

Simon Sinek, a best-selling author and thought leader who wrote “Start With Why,” “Leaders Eat Last,” “The Infinite Game,” and more, guided the discussion. While Sinek routinely coaches Fortune 500 leaders and senior government officials, this was his first time coaching U.S. Army company level command teams.

Command Sgt. Maj. Cliff Burgoyne, III Corps and Fort Hood command sergeant major, welcomed attendees and encouraged them to use new approaches to connect with Soldiers and solve leadership challenges.

Burgoyne asked, “The Internet, smartphone, it is a culture change. How do we adapt to that?”

Sinek said, “It is the organization’s responsibility to adapt.”

The older generations of Army leaders need to take a progressive approach and work with younger Soldiers to improve organizational effectiveness and build cohesion, Sinek explained.

In addition to changes in communication technology including smartphones and the Internet, Sinek encourage III Corps leaders to actively listen to each other. Active listening builds confidence and reduces misunderstandings.

CSM Burgoyne speaks with Simon Sinek during a professional development session
Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur “Cliff Burgoyne, senior enlisted leader for III Corps and Fort Hood, speaks with Simon Sinek virtually during a professional development session, Fort Hood, Texas, July 30, 2021. Sinek is a British-American author and inspirational speaker who has attended many leadership sessions with the different uniformed branches. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. James Grays)

“We need to meet our Soldiers where they are at,” Sinek said. “Teach them social interaction and build confidence; teach them how to talk to each other and listen to each other. Are we training Soldiers on things they sometimes do or things they always do? Train them on what they always do, which is interact with each other.”

The audience, which included more than 300 captains and first sergeants at Fort Bliss, Carson, Hood, and Riley, echoed Sinek’s call for active and engaged leaders.

1st Sgt. Andrea Gibson, B Company, 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion, emphasized that a bottom up approach to communication where leaders actively solicit input from junior Soldiers results in more effective communication.

Getting to know Soldiers is a core component of III Corps “People First” program for developing strong teams built on trust.

Sinek suggested that Soldiers will be motivated and have higher morale when they view their experience is tied to the Army’s history. Connecting with the past helps Soldiers make future decisions because they are inspired by the example of distinguished units and heroes, said Sinek.

Capt. Jonathan Cruz, the incoming commander for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, said that he enjoys Sinek’s progressive way of thinking. Cruz believes leaders need to set clear expectations, achievable standards, and let Soldiers know their opinions are valued.

Creating an environment where Soldiers have a circle of safety and trust, they will put forth courage and sacrifice in the face of danger, Sinek said.

As the session concluded, Burgoyne thanked Sinek and encouraged the command  teams to share the discussion with their Soldiers.