Brothers In Leadership
by U.S. Army Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard
June 9, 2019
What is Army leadership? The definition available to Soldiers is that Army leaders motivate people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization.
Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas T.J. Baird, an alumnus of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, and his brother Lt. Col. Derek Baird, 3-16th Field Artillery Regiment, both serve in leadership positions.
They are identical twins who are very tall with an unmistakable smile and what T.J calls arctic blonde hair.
March 8, 2019 - U.S. Army Lt. Col. Derek Baird, left, 3-16 Field Artillery Regiment, gestures during an interview while his brother U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Baird, right, 504th MI BDE former CSM, listens at Fort Hood, Texas. Both are identical twins serving on the same post. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard)
To them, leadership is more than motivation and focused thinking.
“How do you inspire others to want to be there with you,” said T.J. “To want to do what you need them to accomplish what you need them to do. Whatever that mission is. That’s the key to leadership.”
“I had a buddy of mine who was a team leader,” said T.J. “I remember it was raining hard, and we were out in the field. He was like ‘Hey we just jumped to a new site and this is what we need to do.’ Without any thought, without any complaints, we put our battle kit on and were out there digging 60 pits.”
He said they put their camouflage net up, security, and hasty firing positions.
“I was a young guy digging a 60 pit, in there about to feet of water and I thought ‘man.’”
T.J. said his team leader stopped by and asked if he still had that grin on his face, while digging the pit.
“I said, ‘Yup, I do.’ I wanted to be like my team leader, to get people who wanted to help him. That was 24 years ago. That one small example continues with me today,” said T.J.
Derek and T.J. share a wealth of time in the Army and listen to each other and give feedback to each other when needed.
“Getting people to have buy in, not just buy in but the want to,” said Derek. “How to get them to do what they don’t want to do. A good leader is someone who provides a good atmosphere that enables the team to strive to move forward. It’s all about team work.”
Derek said that when it comes to leadership changing, what used to work in the past does not always work in the future.
“You change a little bit, but you never change who you are,” he said. “You always want to work with purpose. That’s one thing I’ve never changed, is purpose.”
Derek only took his position less than a year ago.
“I sat down with my senior leaders and asked, ‘What is your purpose?’”
He said he received answers ranging from wanting to be the best chief in their section, or best platoon leader.
“Well that’s great that’s what you want to do, and I applaud that, but is that purpose,” he asked. “What gets you out of bed in the morning? I know it’s not coffee and an alarm clock. To me it’s family.”
Derek said that if there is no purpose then there are wayward Soldiers. Wayward Soldiers are the ones standing in front of the commander for an Article 15, or Soldiers who are constantly being counseled, or failing their physical fitness test on purpose. He said it is a leader’s responsibility to help Soldiers find their purpose.
T.J. said his leadership style changed as he continued through the ranks. As a young Soldier, non-commissioned officer, he was very commanding. As he progressed, he realized that was not the direction he wanted or needed.
“There are other ways to make things happen,” he said. “There are other ways to get people to buy in to what we need to do.”
“Over my time in the Army, I’ve found that a willing smile, even in the most difficult of times, is the best thing to do,” T.J. said. “Even if in the back of your head you are thinking ‘holy crap, what just happened.’”
Over time, T.J. also learned that failing needs to happen for a leader to grow.
“Fail in a controlled environment,” he said. “Understand where you’re doing well. Understand where you kind of got a little wobbly. Understand where the wheels fell off. Back up ‘till we started to get wobbly. Figure out how to smooth that out…”
“If you are comfortable everyday all day, then you are never growing.”
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