The Leader as a Counselor

Leader Counselor

To be effective, counseling must be a shared effort. Leaders assist their subordinates in identifying strengths and weaknesses and creating plans of action. Once an individual development plan is agreed upon, leaders support their Soldiers and Army Civilians throughout implementation and continued assessment. To achieve success, subordinates must be forthright in their commitment to improve and candid in their own assessments and goal setting.

Army leaders evaluate Army Civilian job performance using procedures prescribed under civilian personnel policies. Use of DA Form 4856 is appropriate to counsel Army Civilians on professional growth and career goals. The servicing civilian personnel office should be consulted when using a DA Form 4856 to counsel an Army Civilian concerning misconduct or poor performance.

Army leaders conduct counseling to help subordinates become better team members, maintain or improve performance, and prepare for the future. While it is not easy to address every possible counseling situation, leader self-awareness and an adaptable counseling style focusing on key characteristics will enhance personal effectiveness as a counselor.

These key characteristics include:

  • Purpose: Clearly define the purpose of the counseling.
  • Flexibility: Adapt the counseling approach to each subordinate, situation, and relationship.
  • Respect: View subordinates as unique, complex individuals with distinct values, beliefs, and attitudes.
  • Communication: Establish open, two-way communication with subordinates using verbal and nonverbal actions (such as body language or gestures). Effective counselors listen more than they speak.
  • Support: Encourage subordinates through direction, guidance, and supportive actions