Improving Enlisted Soldier Role Transition to Noncommissioned Officer: Challenges and Ways Forward
[Technical Report, Final Report]
ARMY RESEARCH INST FOR THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES FORT BELVOIR VA
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Recent research has indicated that the transition from junior enlisted Soldier to noncommissioned officer NCO is often daunting, as Soldiers face challenges in professional, personal, and social domains. The purpose of this research was to identify challenges and barriers to a successful transition and to identify successful strategies NCOs employed to navigate the transition. We examined the academic and military literature and doctrine related to leader development to inform study design, instrument development, and data interpretation. We conducted focus groups and interviews with 76 Soldiers and NCOs about their personal role transition experiences. We also obtained questionnaire data from 157 Soldiers and NCOs to quantify experiences in this transition phase. Results suggest that many prospective and junior NCOs struggle with confidence, motivation to lead, and basic leadership skills. However, junior enlisted leaders generally report that they acquire the necessary skills, self-confidence, and leadership identity in the course of performing their required duties as leaders. Together, the results suggest that earlier exposure to these leadership activities along with encouragement, feedback, and support from leadership may accelerate and ease the transition process for many NCOs.