I began studying for the Soldier of the Month board in October 2013. Most people who noticed my study sessions were supportive and gave their tidbits of board advice. Sound off but don’t yell. Stay calm. Be confident. Good luck.
But as a new soldier, I was on the other hand surprised at how many people actually were not as encouraging. Going to the board is pointless!
What makes them think going to the board is completely “pointless”…
– Memorizing Army Regulations and other policies does not mean you will make a good leader
-Knowing the right answer when given hypothetical situations does not mean you’ll have the correct answer in real-life situations
– Making sure your uniform is squared away for the day of the board does not mean you will always be squared away
– Portraying confidence when standing before board members does not mean your soldiers and superiors will always have confidence in you
All of this is definitely understandable and undoubtably true. But if you are genuinely a good leader and striving to be a top notch soldier, I think it is easy for you to comprehend why an excellent peformance and presentation of yourself at the promotion board is actually highly significant in your career!
First, the time and effort you put into memorizing military doctrine directly shows your dedication to learning the information you will need to know throughout your time in the Army. It shows you know where to look, how to find the most updated documents, and where to get resources. It shows you have the determination to educate yourself, whether you are actually good at memorizing facts or not. And a soldier who is knowledgable on the history of the Army and on the mission of their unit is sure to stand out from the rest.
Second, your presentation at the board shows that you are familiar with the regulations that govern appearance and uniform. You will be asked to do facing-movements and must be able to perfectly explain measurements of your ribbons and other insignia. The cleanliness of your uniform will be a direct reflection of your level of professionalism.
Last, the confidence in your body language and voice show that you know how to mentally control your body physically in a situation that may cause you to be nervous and tense. And if you’re unsure of an answer, your ability to respond appropriately can show that you still have confidence in yourself.
The way you present yourself during a board shows how hard you have prepared and that you are able to articulate and express yourself effectively. You are expected to be genuine and to be yourself but to present yourself at your very best and in the most professional manner. So while doing excellent at the board doesn’t always mean you will be the best NCO or Officer, doing a “bad job” at the board doesn’t mean you won’t make a good leader. You just need to dedicate even more time to studying, attend more mock boards, get advice from former promotion board members, and use alternate study tactics.
TIP: Study actual field manuals and regulations instead of Army study apps and online study guides. These are actually frowned upon by board members as they aren’t always up to date or 100% accurate!