Over the past 75 years, the financial management career field has benefitted from some exceptional leaders. In your experience, who has been the most influential leader in your financial management career? Please describe the characteristics that make/made them good leaders and how those characteristics impacted your career.
I started my financial management career at United States Army North (USARNORTH) G8 as a management and program analyst in 2019. During my time at USARNORTH, I have encountered many different styles of leadership from both bad leaders and good leaders, those I would consider influential leaders. An influential leader must have a wide diversity of values, beliefs, characteristics, communication styles, and other preferred methods of working. For context, United States Army North (Fifth Army) is responsible for conducting multi-domain operations in support of United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) to detect, deter, and defeat threats to the homeland, and conducts Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) and Theater Security Cooperation initiatives to defend the United States and the American people. Army North, a three-star command dedicated to federal military operations within North America, protects the Department of Defense’s ability to man, train, and equip forces within the homeland. USARNORTH works with interagency and military partners to conduct homeland defense planning, coordinate homeland defense operations, establish force protection conditions, and provide administrative control of the Army Air and Missile Defense Command protecting the National Capital Region. The missions assigned to USARNORTH cannot be accomplished without influential leaders such as Mr. Patrick M. Reynolds, who is the USARNORTH Chief Financial Officer, responsible for all financial management matters for the command. Mr. Reynolds possesses leadership characteristics that have personally impacted my financial management career by providing purpose, direction, and at times, motivation.
Mr. Reynolds serves as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G8, and has been an influential leader in my view. He has demonstrated leadership characteristics inherent and grounded in Army leadership doctrine. The Army places extreme value on leader character and even highlights it within doctrine as “essential to accomplishing the Army mission.” The Army currently defines leadership as “the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.” Given the wide problem set of unknowns and unanticipated threats to the homeland, he has been agile in his reactions and consistent in his messaging. I have witnessed firsthand his agility to meet the demands of the command and the demands of our higher headquarters of USNORTHCOM and Headquarters Department of the Army. To answer the demands of our higher headquarters, Mr. Reynolds leads the USARNORTH G8 team with purpose.
“Truly effective and inspiring leaders aren’t actually driven to lead people; they are driven to serve them.” ~ Simon Sinek.
Leading with Purpose
I’ve experienced the power of purpose-driven leadership (and servant leadership) for the past eighteen years of my total Army career but during my time here at USARNORTH, I have found that purpose-driven leadership is a key characteristic I can take away and apply to future teams and organizations. Mr. Reynolds has shown me what purpose-driven leadership is by providing guidance and oversight of duties and making it a point to put you in a position of spotlight. For example, during the early days of Operation Allies Refuge (OAR) and then to be later retitled Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), USARNORTH G8 in coordination with the Army Budget Office (ABO) was tasked to develop a support agreement process that would standardize the support agreements with the Department of State (DoS) for all installations hosting Afghanistan refugees. Mr. Reynolds allowed our team the flexibility and autonomy to develop the support agreement process and provide the Director of the Army Budget a real-time support agreement tracking mechanism. Due to the complexity of the intergovernmental whole-of-government approach to OAR/OAW, the support agreement tracker was not used beyond the first safe haven location. Mr. Reynolds had full faith and confidence in our team’s ability to answer ABO’s request for real-time data. He provided the team with a clear purpose. Purpose to answer our nation’s call and a purpose that rose above my own self-interests. Along with purpose, Mr. Reynolds provides leadership through purposeful direction.
Leading with Direction
When I first arrived at USARNORTH in 2019, I had my one-on-one session with Mr. Reynolds in which he provided his around the world “Just an Infantryman” in-brief and what I could expect from him as my senior rater and as the G8 of USARNORTH. Coming from a brigade-level Army organization to a three-star Army command was intimidating, to say the least but I was welcomed with open arms and provided the necessary direction I needed in starting my financial management career at USARNORTH. I was provided direction in how to achieve a goal, task, or mission but more importantly, was provided a directive that stated, every day ask yourself two questions.
- What do I know and who do I need to tell?
- What don’t I know and who do I need to ask?
The two questions are posted in our work area, and I have learned to echo those questions in everything I am responsible for. Army doctrine states, “Providing effective direction requires that leaders communicate the desired end state for the direction they provide.” ADP 6-22 (1-77). Mr. Reynolds provides clear direction and can at times come across as being gruff and candid but to the point in what he expects of you. The leadership characteristic provides the necessary direction for the team to continue the mission. During my three-year term as Vice-President (USARNORTH) of the Alamo City Chapter of the American Society of Military Comptrollers, I was thrust into a leadership position by Mr. Reynolds who told me that leadership opportunities are what you make of them. He provided me with direction on how to handle the Vice-President role and how to lead the chapter through the COVID-19 era and through hosting the first in-person ASMC monthly general membership meeting after COVID restrictions were lifted. Mr. Reynolds provided leadership with motivation to overcome adversity.
Leading with Motivation
“Motivation is the will and initiative to do what is necessary to accomplish a mission.” ADP 6-22 (1-79). Motivation and a leader’s role within it are to understand the needs and desires of others. One of Mr. Reynolds’ priorities for his staff is your family. He states, “When this is all over, they are what is left.” This cannot be truer as the Army implements the Army People Strategy and as a staunch supporter of family, he has made it possible for all of us to take care of our families. The priority of family makes working at USARNORTH a motivational factor to keep working hard and accomplish the mission. Another example of leading through motivation was his encouragement of pursuing a master’s degree. I came to USARNORTH with no intentions of completing a master’s degree but due to his motivation and influence, I applied, was accepted, and graduated with a master of public administration degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. Having a leader believe in you and push you for greater challenges in life doesn’t happen often. As a leader, you tend to learn and adapt to motivational leadership techniques from those whom you call an influential leader.
In conclusion, Mr. Patrick M. Reynolds demonstrates daily what an Army leader should be by providing purpose, direction, and motivation in accomplishing the mission and helping to improve the organization and the individuals who serve under his leadership. He is an influential financial management leader who promotes your personal and professional growth and helps guide you to achieve more than what you would expect of yourself. He pushes the envelope to help you see what you can’t see within yourself. I would like to end this essay with a quote from Don Quixote De La Mancha – a story – his story…
The Greatest Madness – “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams – this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness – and maddest of all: To see life as it is, and not as it should be.”
 U.S. Department of the Army, Army Leadership and the Profession, Army Doctrinal Publication 6-22 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Army, July 2019), 1-1
Author Bio: Mr. Richard J Lara serves as a Senior Program Analyst in the Program, Analysis, and Evaluation Division of the United States Army North (USARNORTH) G8, at Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In this role, he is a team lead with direct oversight of capturing Army Capability gaps and is responsible for the development and defense of the USARNORTH Program Objective Memorandum. He also serves as the Army’s Management Decision Package manager for the National Capital Region – Integrated Air Defense System. Mr. Lara holds a Bachelor of Arts in government from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and a master’s in public administration from the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas. He is an active member of the Alamo City Chapter and has served as the previous Vice-President for USARNORTH for three years.
Are you a writer or do you want to be one? Submit an essay for the 2024 Essay Contest.