By T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs
FORT LEE, Va. – The assistant commandant of the Army’s largest noncommissioned officer academy said her career success can be chalked up to a rather simple formula.
Sgt. Maj. Roslyn Floyd, second in charge of the Logistics NCOA and the first woman to hold the position, said she built her career on the attributes of discipline, professionalism and, not in the least, taking care of Soldiers.
“It wasn’t always easy,” said the Norfolk native, motor transport operator and 26-year Soldier. “I just had to do what I needed to do.”
What she needed to do – in her mind – was to take on her military career with a sense of purpose. That became clear when she became pregnant following a tour to Southwest Asia during the first Gulf War.
“I had the choice of staying in the Army or going back home to a mother who wanted to tell me what to do,” said the now mom of four, including a 24-year-old. “I didn’t want that, plus the Army was fun.”
Armed with a sense of independence, loads of enthusiasm and the freshly set-in reality of providing for a child, Floyd tackled challenge after challenge and assignment after assignment.
One endeavor – applying and being accepted for drill sergeant school as a staff sergeant – would be the most important of her career.
“I wanted to challenge myself to be a better leader and noncommissioned officer,” said Floyd, “because I was a bit quiet and kind of shy. Going through the school helped me to learn exactly what an NCO is – a disciplined professional.”
Drill sergeant school helped Floyd become a better-rounded NCO. Perhaps her greatest lesson was learning competence is the result of hard work, and her nervousness in front of subordinates and peers during Sergeant’s Time training – a perceived impediment to her success as an NCO – was rooted in a lack preparation.
“I learned in order to get in front of a class, in order to be confident, you have to be competent,” she said.
School was one thing, said Floyd, but drill sergeant duty itself is a test of all tests because the duty day starts at “o’dark thirty” or somewhere around 5 a.m. and lasts until 6 or 7 p.m. Add to that the plethora of events – planned and unplanned – and it makes for a grueling routine. Despite the long hours and steep demands, it was an invaluable experience.
“Being a drill sergeant made me into an effective leader,” she said. “As long as I was taking care of my Soldiers, I knew I would have good outcomes, and it really did happen that way. A lot of my Soldiers went on to get promoted and get selected for schools. Some are still in the Army today.”
As rewarding as it was, drill sergeant duty brought to surface the conflict between career enhancement and family obligation. She said she walked a fine line between the two.
“I started on the trail in 2002, and I had to find a baby sitter,” she said, noting it was a challenge dropping off kids at 4 a.m. to strangers. “I stayed focused on what I needed to do. I never let my personal life interfere with my military life. I didn’t want people to think my kids were a burden. As a mother and a Soldier, I still needed to do what I needed to do to take care of my kids and still do my job.”
But, said Floyd, it was tough raising a military family, and she does not want to downplay their struggles.
“My kids sacrificed a lot,” she said.
Floyd became a first sergeant at Fort Hood, Texas, not long after coming off drill sergeant duty. She said she faced the same challenges many who wear the diamond face – those who take authority for granted based on prior relationships and those who question authority due to perceived weaknesses.
“If someone got out of line, I didn’t sugar-coat things,” she recalled. “I had to counsel one of my platoon sergeants for a particular reason, and I never had any issues again.”
In the throes of her leadership as first sergeant, said Floyd, she did not resort to screaming louder and implementing hard tactics to motivate her subordinates.
“I can’t be something I’m not; I tried that and it didn’t work for me,” she said. “I’m a leader, true to myself, and I can still get the job done. Sometimes it can be difficult, but there are other ways to get my point across, especially if I feel like they’re treating me differently because I’m a female.”
Floyd was selected to attend the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy in 2013. Citing her trials as a single mom, she figured integration was best way to close the distance between performing her duties and taking care of her children. She made the decision to allow them to live with her during the nine-month, demanding course, exposing them to Army life as much as she could and supporting her kids’ school activities like never before.
Furthermore, she completed her bachelor’s degree.
“I don’t know how I did it, but I did and I’m still doing it today,” she said.
Today, Floyd reflects on her family and military life with a sense of accomplishment. In the latter, she said it is important to keep striving to be the best one can be. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Don E. Wells said Floyd is refreshingly professional in the conduct of her duties.
“She came to the academy with a can-do attitude, and she leads from the front,” said the deputy to the commandant, Logistics NCO Academy. “She came up like I came up: never tell a Soldier to do something you wouldn’t do.
“She also expects professionalism from her subordinates,” he continued. “In order to get that, you have to demonstrate the same. She has made a great impact at the academy in the six months she’s been here.”
Floyd said she wants to continue to make a difference. She said she has found balance in raising her family and fulfilling her duties.
“I try not to let the job consume me,” she said.
Floyd also is working diligently to form the vision she has for herself as the consummate Soldier in the eyes of others.
“I want them to see a professional noncommissioned officer and a disciplined one – someone with character that extends beyond the duty day,” she said.
That’s a goal clearly in the refinement phase and clearly eons away from the shy, reserved Soldier who simply wanted be a better speaker during Sergeant’s Time training.