Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey is putting together a professional reading list, and he wants your ideas and recommendations.
"I want to stimulate intellectual learning inside the [noncommissioned officer] ranks," Dailey told Army Times. "If you want people to participate in something, you have to let them have a say."
Once he receives soldier submissions, Dailey plans to pick — and read — a book approximately every quarter. He's even looking to conduct professional development forums and discussions about the chosen book when he visits installations across the Army, like a book club.
Here's what you need to know:
What's he looking for?
Dailey is looking for books on leadership or books that can influence the way soldiers lead, he said.
He is purposefully looking for non-military books.
"I think it's important for us to get our blinders off and look outside the Army," he said. "I'm not looking for a list of great military reads. I'm looking for inspiring leadership outside the military. That's not because I dislike any of those, but I think we don't spend enough time looking at what's going on around us."
Why's he looking for ideas?
"I want involvement," Dailey said. "Let's let soldiers talk about what they want to read, we agree to read one, and on an installation visit, we'll discuss it."
Dailey wants his reading list to be "peer-reviewed," he said.
SMA Dailey is looking for titles of non-military books that focus on leadership.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army
"I want people to be able to challenge the list," he said. "I want people to be able to say 'that book's dumb,' or 'that book's great,' or 'here's what I learned from this book.'"
Dailey also is looking for a wide array of suggestions.
"Sure, I could take 10 books off my shelf right now and put them on the website, and that may or may not have a positive effect on somebody," he said. "But I'm excited to see what [soldiers] come up with."
How do you get in on SMA's book club?
Simple: read the book, and be sure to keep an eye out for the next time he visits your installation.
The idea is Dailey will read the book and conduct a professional forum discussion open to anyone who's interested.
"I want people to actually do this," Dailey said. "I want people to feel a part of this. I want to hear what joe has to say."
What was his inspiration?
A few years ago, someone recommended he read "Quiet Strength" by Super Bowl-winning football coach Tony Dungy.
"I'm naturally not attracted to those kinds of books," he said. "But I grabbed this book and read it, and it really had nothing to do with football."
Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy
Photo Credit: Book cover
In his book, Dungy wrote about building strong teams, Dailey said. Dailey was so inspired by Dungy's "non-traditional" approach that it led him to change his leadership style. A description of Dungy's book notes the coach was able to earn the respect of his teammates without resorting to "screaming histrionics" and "profanities."
"I would have never read that book, and I probably would have never looked outside my comfort zone," Dailey said. "So let's ask the team out there, let's ask soldiers, what else has influenced you? Maybe, just maybe, one person will read one of those books and become a better leader. One person, and it was worth the effort."
How can you participate?
Dailey said he'd like to launch this in the February time frame, maybe by launching a book for the spring.
Send your book suggestions to Army Times staff writer Michelle Tan at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please explain why they're worth a look.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.