An Interview with Grant McFarlane: Regimental Sergeant Major- Army

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Chris Sharp (CS): What have you learned from the Chief of Army (CA) in the past year? 

Grant McFarlane (GM): I’ve learned that the Chief of Army is passionate about the direction that the Australian Army is taking, that he’s clear in that direction, and he is encouraging our Army to think differently. He’s encouraging us all to be part of the solution for our Army. The Chief of Army is about setting the Army up for success well into the future.

Samuel Cox (SC): You mentioned in that answer that the Chief of Army is encouraging us to think differently. You’ve been in the Army for a long time now. What ideas are you seeing nowadays that are entirely new?

GM: We are encouraging our soldiers to think about the future. They have a voice in our Army, and they can assist in the direction of our Army in Motion. Nowhere, in my time, has there been engagement this deep with soldiers and junior leaders. 

Regimental Sergeant Major- Army, Warrant Officer Grant McFarlane

SC: How does the work you and the Chief of Army do here in Canberra apply to and impact Army’s junior soldiers in units all across Australia? Why should they care about the Chief’s family of documents?

GM: Everything that comes out of the Office of the Chief of Army, especially these key documents, is about soldiers and their future. The strategic documents are informed by feedback from working groups that happen at lower levels. Nothing is done in isolation. We are endeavouring to set up our leaders and new capabilities for success. They will be the ones who develop the training, techniques and procedures (TTPs) and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for Army’s new capabilities. They should care, because it’s about their future. 

SC: What do our junior leaders need to understand about Good Soldiering?

GM: Good Soldiering encompasses everything that we want to get after in our Army and is central to good character, forming teams and leadership. It’s about our core values and culture underpinning every individual in our Army: courage, initiative, respect, teamwork, looking after your mates, being honest and being responsible. It’s one of the best documents our Army’s ever come up with for our soldiers and leaders.

CS: What have you learned from failure?

GM: Don’t fear it and accept that you will make mistakes. Learn and adapt from those experiences. We need to support people to let them fail safely, then debrief on that failure, and go again.

The full interview with Warrant Officer Grant McFarlane, Regimental Sergeant Major- Army continues here.

Warrant Officer Grant McFarlane, OAM, has served as the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 10th/27th Battalion, Royal South Australia Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division and Career Management– Army. He was officially appointed as the 11th Regimental Sergeant Major– Army in July 2018.

It helps to know what is happening when you challenge the accepted. 10in10 is an interview series designed to share insight into future-leaning work across the Australian profession of arms. One interview will be released every day for 10 days. You can find previous interviews here. We hope they inspire you to share your own ideas.

About the Authors: Chris Sharp is a Squadron Sergeant Major at the Officer Training College within the Australian Defence Force Academy. He has been an Associate Editor with Grounded Curiosity since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter via the handle @SHARP_CR.

Samuel J. Cox is the editor of Grounded Curiosity. You can follow him on Twitter via the handle @samuel_j_cox