Sheepdog Response and Core Values

By SDR Instructor, Jeff Tiegs

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

I first heard this phrase a couple of years after I retired from the military. I had never heard this exact phrase in the Army, but the sentiment behind it is a crucial part of any effective unit I was ever a part of during 25 years of service.

In US Army Special Operations, individuals are assessed, selected, and trained to be part of a team and must be able to fit into a culture that was “there before them and will be there after them.” 

We had a saying for prospective hires, “We are looking for the right guy, not necessarily the best guy.” All these sayings attempt to express the same thought -Core Values must come first.

This blog will be the first of a series where we will explore the Core Values of the different branches of the U.S. Military and some other key and crucial creeds, truths, and concepts that make a warrior.

Values must be clearly established, reinforced, and even held sacred if they are expected to last. In the military, we are taught about the men and women that went before us. We are taught our history. We are educated in our victories alongside our defeats. We learn to share the vision, ethos, and core values of our predecessors.

To build this esprit de corps rapidly and near permanently, the military has mastered the art of stripping away a soldier’s identity and rebuilding it with what is required to be successful under fire.

That’s not quite the way it works in the civilian world. For starters, no one should be going “under fire”. So, if you can’t strip someone to their core and rebuild them, how do you develop a lasting and impactful culture in your community?

All the instructors at Sheepdog Response share the same Core Values and the students that participate in our courses get a crash course in these Values.

Sheepdog Response cadre come from varying units and organizations, but you will see most of the Values overlap quite a bit. This series will examine the Core Values that have impacted Sheepdog Response, make us who we are, and why our students partner with us.

We’ll begin with the most common service represented within the Sheepdog Response Team - the U.S. Army.

U.S. Army Values:

Many people know what the words Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage mean. But how often do you see someone actually live up to them?

Soldiers learn these values in detail during Basic Combat Training (BCT), from then on they live them every day in everything they do — whether they’re on the job or off. In short, the Seven Core Army Values listed below are what being a Soldier is all about.

  • Loyalty: Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers. Bearing true faith and allegiance is a matter of believing in and devoting yourself to something or someone. A loyal Soldier is one who supports the leadership and stands up for fellow Soldiers. By wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army you are expressing your loyalty. And by doing your share, you show your loyalty to your unit.
  • Duty: Fulfill your obligations. Doing your duty means more than carrying out your assigned tasks. Duty means being able to accomplish tasks as part of a team. The work of the U.S. Army is a complex combination of missions, tasks, and responsibilities — all in constant motion. Our work entails building one assignment onto another. You fulfill your obligations as a part of your unit every time you resist the temptation to take “shortcuts” that might undermine the integrity of the final product.
  • Respect: Treat people as they should be treated. In the Soldier’s Code, we pledge to “treat others with dignity and respect while expecting others to do the same.” Respect is what allows us to appreciate the best in other people. Respect is trusting that all people have done their jobs and fulfilled their duty. And self-respect is a vital ingredient with the Army value of respect, which results from knowing you have put forth your best effort. The Army is one team and each of us has something to contribute.
  • Selfless Service: Put the welfare of the nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own. Selfless service is larger than just one person. In serving your country, you are doing your duty loyally without thought of recognition or gain. The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment of each team member to go a little further, endure a little longer, and look a little closer to see how he or she can add to the effort.
  • Honor: Live up to Army values. The nation’s highest military award is The Medal of Honor. This award goes to Soldiers who make honor a matter of daily living — Soldiers who develop the habit of being honorable and solidify that habit with every value choice they make. Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do.
  • Integrity: Do what’s right, legally and morally. Integrity is a quality you develop by adhering to moral principles. It requires that you do and say nothing that deceives others. As your integrity grows, so does the trust others place in you. The more choices you make based on integrity, the more this highly prized value will affect your relationships with family and friends, and, finally, the fundamental acceptance of yourself.
  • Personal Courage: Face fear, danger or adversity (physical or moral). Personal courage has long been associated with our Army. With physical courage, it is a matter of enduring physical duress and at times risking personal safety. Facing moral fear or adversity may be a long, slow process of continuing forward on the right path, especially if taking those actions is not popular with others. You can build your personal courage by daily standing up for and acting upon the things that you know are honorable.

When you participate in one of the SDR courses, you will see these 7 Values reflected in everything we do. 

It is up to you, when you return home, to reinforce these values and live them. Warriors cannot expect core values to survive or evolve into a culture if they do not live them each day.