Two paths, one passion: the brothers define what military leadership means | Item

Sgt.  Maj.Thomas, TJ, Baird, G-3/5/7, US Army Training and Doctrine Command, and Lt. Col. Derek Baird, fire support trainer, National Training Center, sat down for an interview on the Army <a class=leadership
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Sgt. Maj.Thomas, TJ, Baird, G-3/5/7, US Army Training and Doctrine Command, and Lt. Col. Derek Baird, fire support trainer, National Training Center, sat down for an interview on the Army leadership on October 4, 2021.
(Photo credit: Danae Johnson)


JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va .– For identical twin brothers, Sgt. Maj.Thomas, TJ, Baird, G-3/5/7, US Army Training and Doctrine Command, and Lt. Col. Dereck Baird, fire support trainer, National Training Center, takes leadership desire and nobility to inspire.

For the Bairds, two different paths were chosen within the army; one enlisted and the other an officer. However, one thing is the same; be determined and motivated leaders. The brothers learned early on what discipline and a strong self-awareness in leadership looks like. For them, successful leaders identify and promote a soldier’s purpose.

“You would be surprised how many young soldiers do not know what [purpose] looks like them, ”Derek said. “When we look at purposeful leadership, we’re looking to set a goal to have a goal and to help others find what that looks like in a positive way. “

TJ was the first to join the military as an enlisted soldier. For him, the goal is to inspire others to want to achieve personal and organizational goals through hard work and determination that will endure in difficult times.

“Sometimes you’re out in the rain, in the mud, or somewhere you don’t want to be at night, but you’re still serving others. You train them to prepare them for what we need from them, ”TJ said. “More specifically, for the military, it’s literally about fighting and winning our nation’s wars. It’s about getting in the mud and doing our nation’s orders. It is in the mud that inspiring leaders show their true colors by making sure their team is prepared for whatever challenges they face.

Realizing the efforts of the military means that leaders often and early ask what they want their people to be, TJ explained. The goal of a leader should be to make people better than themselves now and in the future.

For Derek, who joined the military three years after his brother, determined leaders understand how important committed teams and personal interactions are.

“If you want to lead, lead knowing who your people are, so they know who you are, so that we understand each other as we begin to build these great teams,” he said. “You have to do it often and early. It cannot be: “I want to get to know you during the emergency or the crisis itself”.

Those who value the interpersonal knowledge of their teams may recognize the talent of future leaders within their organization. Especially among younger soldiers, leaders need to connect early on with their peers and subordinates to manage talent, the Bairds explained.

“Who will take over next?” Our goal as a leader is to find someone to replace you, ”TJ said. “If you’re a leader who’s afraid to recruit and hire someone who’s better than you and smarter than you, then you’re not really managing talent.”

Inspiring the next generation of Army leaders also requires effective energy management, Bairds believes. When positive energy exists, organizations tend to do better and uplift those around them.

“If you want to inspire someone, be energetic, but be energetic effectively. When I talk about energy, be positive, this positive energy goes a long way. My # 1 tenant in life, smile and the world smiles with you, ”TJ said.

The Bairds also believe that leaders should balance the energies within their organization when circumstances call for restructuring, placing individuals in a different location that better meets their needs. Often times, these people achieve better results simply by being in a new environment that offers opportunities for personal and professional growth, Derek explained.


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Sgt. Major Thomas, TJ, Baird, G-3/5/7, US Army Training and Doctrine Command.
(Photo credit: Danae Johnson)


Lt. Col. Derek Baird, fire support trainer, National Training Center, poses outside the training area.


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Lt. Col. Derek Baird, fire support trainer, National Training Center, poses outside the training area.
(Photo credit: Danae Johnson)


One of the most critical skills leaders can implement, according to the Bairds, is perspective, both by sharing their own and by understanding others. Leaders can learn their soldiers’ perspectives through empathetic, bottom-up discussions.

“Empathy is walking a mile in someone’s shoes to understand their perspective on life and what their filters are,” TJ said. “What is the filter through which we look in life? Whether it’s someone who grew up in the Deep South, the Bronx, California, or the Midwest on a farm, what is their take on life and how do they see it in an organization? “

The brothers stressed that leaders should identify how they want the organization to function. When clear and supportive command relationships are established, soldiers are part of well-understood cohesive teams. These teams are then measured by their performance and effectiveness, creating a successful feedback loop that helps an organization excel.

TJ believes that when good units, command structures and NCO support channels are well supported from top to bottom and bottom to top, organizations succeed.

“If we get people who are really supporting each other, you’ll see that these organizations are doing pretty well,” Derek said.

According to the Bairds, well-supported command structures are also determined by how leaders are built. Whether leaders are born or can be taught is one of the few topics the Bairds have a different perspective on.

“You can teach someone to lead,” TJ said. “We do this every day in the military, from the time we enter the military until the moment we leave the military, and we do a good job of training leaders. However, I believe that great leaders separate themselves from the pack because of their innate talent for standing up and leading others to achieve their goals. “

Derek shares a different point of view. He believes that good leaders are taught through experience and leadership crucible events. Their work ethic drives them to want to be a great leader, while also learning from those who came before them.

For both brothers, regardless of their different leadership perspectives, their common goal as leaders is to encourage others to be better every day. They achieve this by inspiring their teams, by being disciplined, in thought, in word and deed, and by having the energy to lead times of ease and challenge.

“It really comes down to a goal. What is your purpose in life; do x, y and z? Identifying this will help you determine what you want to accomplish, ”the Bairds said.

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