Developmental Counseling


Subordinate leadership development is one of the most important responsibilities of every Army leader. Developing the leaders who will come after you should be one of your highest priorities. Your legacy and the Army’s future rests on the shoulders of those you prepare for greater responsibility.

Leadership development reviews are a means to focus the growing of tomorrow’s leaders. Think of them as AARs with a focus of making leaders more effective every day. These important reviews are not necessarily limited to internal counseling sessions; leadership feedback mechanisms also apply in operational settings such as the CTCs.

Just as training includes AARs and training strategies to fIx shortcomings, leadership development includes performance reviews. These reviews result in agreements between leader and subordinate on a development strategy or plan of action that builds on the subordinate’s strengths and establishes goals to improve on weaknesses. Leaders conduct performance reviews and create plans of action
during developmental counseling.

Leadership development reviews are a component of the broader concept of developmental counseling. Developmental counseling is subordinate-centered communication that produces a plan outlining actions that subordinates must take to achieve individual and organizational goals. During developmental counseling, subordinates are not merely passive listeners; they’re actively involved in the
process. The Developmental Counseling Form (DA Form 4856- E, which is discussed at the end of this appendix) provides a useful framework to prepare for almost any type of counseling. Use it to help you mentally organize issues and isolate important, relevant items to cover during counseling sessions.

Developmental counseling is a shared effort. As a leader, you assist your subordinates in identifying strengths and weaknesses and creating plans of action. Then you support them throughout the plan implementation and assessment. However, to achieve success, your subordinates must be forthright in their commitment to improve and candid in their own assessment and goal setting.

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