JNCO Leadership Enrichment Via Transformational Leadership

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Leadership development is a thorough topic and practice in organizations. However, it is an ongoing learning curve for all sectors from civilian corporations to military organizations. There are many levels and contributing factors to leadership. This paper will focus on Junior Enlisted Non-Commissioned Officers (JNCO’s) from the Army organization at a Battalion level of combative units. In addition, it will briefly address the effect and comparison of leadership theories: Transformational Leadership and Transactional Leadership prospectively in a high-stress organization demanding progressive, innovative and creativity within a traditional structure. We will concentrate on Transformational Leadership’s subunit, motivation, in accordance to Army culture by weighing: Intrinsic (IM) and Extrinsic motivation (EM) with emphasis of Intrinsic motivational development in enlisted personnel, JNCO’s ( >E-5). Decreased numbers in JNCO’s is examined for probable correlation of decreased level of career satisfaction from deficiency in leadership skill development.

Questions pondered; how does direct-level leadership influence JNCO’s individual organizational behavioral structure? How to increase JNCO IM. Does this retroactively develop and influence lower-enlistee’s subordinates? Higher-ranking and lower-ranking trainings are comparatively explored. So far to suggest same trainings offered to SNCO boosting IM for lower-enlistees before career advancement to higher ranking positions. This paper suggests intrinsic motivational growth is more crucial than extrinsic rewards in NCOs, the backbone of the Army. The supportive cases are intended to highlight JNCO’s need for early training intervention in effort to build individual IM as future Army leaders. A proposition is implemented in effort to better manage talent resources during recruitment process. In addition to employing an effective scientific study-system based on increased and continual individual and organizational recruitment, commitment, and wellness.

I decided to delve into this topic because I am passionate about the military. I not only have been brought-up in the culture but have firsthand experience as a former Cadet, and now as a Spouse of a Master Sergeant of 19 years of active duty service. I have much admiration and respect for a distinct organization underrated by many. When civilians get a glimpse of the military it is typically through Hollywood movies or via media outlets. However, these depictions show those in higher ranking positions in the limelight doing grunt work, when realistically, it is lower ranking enlisted members who are the backbone of the Army. This research will examine the leadership influence of intrinsic motivation, but more importantly, how we can better develop foundation of individual leadership to team-level leadership of JNCO’s (>E-5) before they are in positions to influence the following generation of lower-enlisted future leaders.

The U.S. Army and organizations alike will face significant challenges over the next decades as it attempts to transform and adapt to new age followers and leaders. Creativity and innovation are prevalent in this fast-track learning and technology era. This research paper has stemmed from my acquired knowledge from my undergraduate studies in organizational leadership. This has prompt me to further delve into the importance of the application of IM in Transformational Leadership within the Army organization. Developing future leaders shared vision via motivation. This construct is imperative for future Army readiness (AR), decreased attrition rates and post-military career transitions. It is questioned whether EM is more beneficial than IM. Afterall, if were not paid for our careers, we would not bother. It is a necessity. However, if that was the main purpose why would anyone consider joining an organization for the mediocre pay in comparison to civilian jobs that requires same qualification with more pay? There an array of reasons why a person decides to join, but the most common is the desire to develop beyond what a civilian job can offer- discipline and 7 Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. How can the Army ensure NCO’s consistently commit to this culture?

By leaders consistently practicing transformational leadership skills with subordinates. We will examine the theory of Transformational Leadership (TFL), its subunit Intrinsic Motivation (IM) from Emotional Intelligence, the underlying reasons this style of leadership is well suited during initial career development with lower enlisted to leaders in the Army, and the important role it can play in the development of individual and organizational growth. It then advances recommendations for choosing and developing leaders with the transformational leadership skills that will strengthen the Army readiness in following years. It is understood that there are many contributing factors and levels to organizational levels. Furthermore, the Army is a diverse organization and the type of leadership applied differentiates. The Army has always been viewed as an organization with a Traditional Structure. Traditional Structure is an adopted strategy organizing a chain of command, a top-down approach. This structure minimizes communication from lower ranking personnel with higher authorities. However, daily operational tasks with small elements of Soldiers, i.e., Battalion (300-800), Platoon (39), Sections- are led by Transactional Leadership.

Their pay depends on rank and time served. For instance, an E-4 pay with more than 2 but less than 3 years of service would be 2248.50 per month (source). There is an array of jobs performed at this rank. For purposes of this paper, I will focus on those in combative jobs. I believe considering the high-stress degree of work 24/7, it is more just to offer leadership development courses that can supplement their resume for easier career transition must they part from Army after first contract of 4-6 years.

Motivation: Intrinsic & Extrinsic

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand others in an interpersonal way. It covers, motivation, empathy… EI is typically taught in the social sciences and practiced in humanitarian fields such as: counseling, child services, theology, ... These are all passive fields that deal with clients with trauma. It is not typical in fields with high stress working with individuals that are trained to cause destruction to enemies foreign and domestic. EI is a subunit of Transformational leadership (TL). TL is considered an art of leadership. It focuses in individuals within an organization for personal growth and development and hence enhancing the entire organization. Transactional Leadership is the art of commanding subordinates with structure and reprimanding when necessary. This is most commonly seen in the active workforces such as: Military forces, public safety, corrections...It is more desirable because these fields deal with a range of highly stressful situations that can likely result in death. However, how is Trans L sustainable in the long-run when people’s innate desire to perform are possible only once their basics needs are met? According to Maslow Hierarchy Theory, a pyramid depicting humans needs and wants to be met ranking from necessities to desires. The first basic need that must be met for motivations is food, stability, ...

An army field exercise of 316th Sustainment in the Best Warrior Course (BWC), soldiers vied to become the best warrior. This course consisted of junior enlisted and below to test mental and physical all during frigid weather temperature. The soldiers began with heightened motivation. As they progressed others were succumbing to the weather conditions. A turnaround stemmed when one of the soldiers, PFC. Steven Ayres, stayed behind to motivate the others to rebuild the motivation to finish strong. Despite being a competitive course, success and admiration was gained by witnessing the influence of leadership behavior regaining others commitment to finishing (source). This demonstrated influential leadership and precedence building intrinsic motivation over extrinsic reward even at the lowest level. An outcome like the latter defines transformational leadership and increases esprit de corp.

Since Stouffer’s study in 1949 during WWII, tried to understand why Soldiers fight. This same study was done on Combative Infantrymen during the Iraqi Freedom. The results from the series of studies on what motivated the Soldiers during combat conditions, Camaraderie (https://www.thebalancecareers.com/why-soldiers-fight-3331792.) Interestingly, during WWII people were drafted there was no reward yet, they still embodied the Army values of loyalty. Today, it is voluntary which demonstrates there is still patriotism in our Army.

Improvisation is mandatory in an ever-changing Army. There is no predictability in war. Therefore, training is simulated like war to gain familiarity of conditions and making decisions under hazardous and stressful circumstances.

Transactional leadership may be good for followers to outperform their peers, but contexts requiring learning, and developing is facilitated via Transformational Leadership. With tech advancements, there are a demand for potential advanced skillsets of newer troops. Environment accommodation enables creativity and learning in highly stress situations.

During training exercises such as, Field Training Exercises (FTX), NCOs and Officers are observed in situational analysis to determine their ability to apply their military skills and intuition in real-time. Others are posed as the enemy and attacking the troops during ambushes. The tactics promote stress and demand decisive direction from leaders and action from their Soldiers. In a fire squad there are 6 individuals tasked differently. One will ensure everyone is equipped with ammunition, another will be the key caller for casualties, and others will be attentive to possible ambushes and leadership commands via hand signals. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Ultimately, the Leader is accountable making the best decisions for the interest of fulfilling the mission with minimal to zero casualties. For instance, when performing recon, this entails a 2 Soldiers to scout the area where the enemy resides while the rest of the squad stays back and pulls guard preventing ambush from all angles. Meanwhile, while performing recon, the Soldiers can be discovered, and the Soldiers action will determine the Leaders success or detriment equipping Soldiers with advance preparatory knowledge. Even with the most qualified training, a Soldier without motivational purpose will not know the best course of action because of dependence on direct command. This has constricted the creativity necessary to make quick improvisation and flexibility for adaptation. In real war, this situation has cost many lives and money. It not only affects the families, but it affects the fallen Soldiers leader’s belief in their capability to lead effectively.

JNCO shortage- what causes it? Decreased leadership deficiency?

Lower enlisted members numbers have decreased between E1-E3. Members of E4 from 2018-19 have decreased by 489 members and between 2019-20 it is predicted to further decrease by 2859. Retroactively, E5 JNCO personnel will only increase by 1373 compared to senior NCOs average increasing by 2243 (Statista 2019). According to ___ officers will spend 3 years in leadership development training within a 20-year career span. What distinguishes between a person’s qualification becoming a CO or an NCO? Education. Not that there are not many NCO’s with college degrees. In 2016, SGT MAJ of the Army Daniel Dailey expressed concern about no-longer being the most trained and educated Army. In 2005, China raised its NCO’s standards of training and education to a 3-year collegiate level. The U.S. has yet implemented this standard and that was more than a decade from the interview with SGT MAJ. In a recent poll compared to

Suicidal rates. The military accounts for only 8.5% of the population. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in U.S. and is ranked 2nd reason for military deaths. That conservatively accounts for 22 veterans’ suicides per day. Workplace difficulties was one of the main individual stressors resulting in suicide. Risks are greater post military service compared to civilian counterpart (USU/CDP, 2019). Added stresses come from nature of job, being combat ready 24/, not being reliable member of family for moral support.

Warrior leadership course (WLC) is available to E3 and above. It’s necessary for E5. SGT are typically delegated tasks from WOII and 2 LTs, but it is then delegated to Corporals E3. If a Corporal hasn’t acquired leadership development courses that a SGT has gained, it can lead to frustration and leadership deficient behavior.


Leadership behavioral traits aptitude test should be implemented within the process of joining the Army as an extension of ASVAB aptitude test for suggested pathway: Enlisted or Commissioned. However, this will be left to the candidates discrepancy. The latter test proposed could be similar to the one from, Dominance, Influence, Conscientiousness, and steadiness (DiSC) research validated assessment believe the “core aspects of personality and how individuals are wired can influence their leadership behavior. In effort to increase reward, recognition, and continued organizational commitment battalions can incorporate gamifications like recruitments “Virtual Army Experience.” Except the gamification would be game for training purposes i.e. leadership development. Gamification has increased in popularity since 1999 and has demonstrated immense improvement in recruits, training, engagement, motivation and individual wellness. With the test, the Army is able to determine the candidate’s placement of path: Commissioned officer or Non-commissioned. This is different than the required GT score of 110 to be considered eligible to becoming an officer. The proposed aptitude will help determine beforehand if their behavioral traits meet the need of an army as a commissioned officer or NCO.


Civilian workforce and Military workforce are different in their organizational structure and cultural approach. Military’s traditional structure is a top-to-down and is more a command and control operations model-which can constrict creativity. There is a code for both organization and behavioral conduct. Defined roles are shown on uniforms and career progression is clear. Beliefs are shared and demonstrated via organizations values and moral. Simply, civilian workforce is more fluid both structurally and behaviorally. The matrix structure leads to implied rules and titles are not worn,

People’s desire to do and be better is essentially the desire to build their intrinsic motivation (IM). IM is… Intrinsic reward is the self-fulfilling contentment that take pride in work and finds fulfillment in their ethic without reliance in others affirmation. Organizations such as the Army should focus applying this via transformational leadership for longer lasting results. Extrinsic rewards are short term and leave a void that only the next reward can temporarily fill (source). Studies have shown that extrinsic motivation works well in an organization with repetitive tasks and does not interfere with IM. However, where innovation and creativity are demanded, EM can harm IM (source).

How can an organization build intrinsic motivations to fulfill long-term individual and organizational growth? Knowledge, Responsibility, Recognition, Accomplishment: too many times the Soldiers desires to grow within the organization is postponed. It is questioned whether it is for superior's selfish regard or lack of talent resource. EX: Soldier is the only qualified soldier as a chief for field exercise. The Soldier wants to attend Air assault school but is turned down because his superior needs him for an inspection that will make his superior look good to his leader. Ultimately, the superior subconsciously sacrificed his subordinates desire for accomplishment for his own reward of recognition from his leader. As a leader, one has an underlying commitment and obligation to its subordinates. Those responsibilities are ensuring their subordinates take care of their own personal responsibilities so they can focus on the organization mission and their role in it. When a leader elevates its men, he elevates himself. There is no need to undercut subordinate’s motivation for personal growth in effort to strengthen their contributions towards the organization within an organization. On the contrary, the subordinate increases their contributions towards further strengthening the organization.(https://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-intrinsic-workplace-motivation-11382.html)

Interestingly, the Army of expectations are different when in training or special schools, and typical day at work in their assigned MOS. The responsibility can range from military combat operations to peacekeeping (source). During domestic trainings and schools, Soldiers are expected to come ready to outperform their peers for acclamation. However, during typical day work, regulations expect leaders to take care of Soldiers and their families. Perspective and expectation of leaders and followers are different (Hamstra 2014).
EXAMPLE: Transformational and transactional influencing the behavior of subordinate Police force officers (Deluga).

Military has expanded in global affairs despite others’ belief in minimizing after berlin wall collapsing. Their involvement increased activity despite the days of Cold War. More recently, their active participation in Iraq and Afghanistan proves our Nation’s continued use of the military as a key element of national power (source).

The Army is not for the fainthearted. It comprises much diversity, but morality all aligns structurally in sync. Much emphasis is placed on order, structure, discipline and the character traits: honor, courage, integrity… Though, many resources are expended on strengthening its leaders, not much emphasis of emotional intelligence is practice. Emotional Intelligence being considered a weakness is a misconception of the Army culture. There is no time to worry about Soldiers “feelings” because the mission comes first before oneself. However, how must an organization emphasize commodore overlook the potential impact of concern for everyone’s growth that comprises and represents an entire organization.
There are two types of motivations: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. The military forces are known for their prestigious acclamations via promotions, awards and position titles.

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JNCO Leadership Enrichment via Transformational Leadership. (2021, Feb 27). Retrieved July 25, 2024 , from

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