Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Michael W. Williams embodies the definition of the word leadership. He is dedicated, full of integrity and displays a sense of humor; he can best be described as a simplifier… one who is able to make complex issues plainly and understandable. As the Command Sergeant Major of the military organization known as the Guardian of the Nation’s Capital, he epitomizes the professionalism of his soldiers at the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington (JFHQNCR/MDW). Truly a soldier’s soldier, evidenced by the numerous awards, previous command plaques and photographs presenting a military career of service that has spanned more than 30 years. One of the first things he mentioned was a quote from his mother about relationships. “Rules without relationships lead to rebellion,” said Williams. “Establish relationships first then learn the organization.”
He emphasized that his time in the Army wasn’t so much about tanks, weapons and guns; it was those dynamic relationships that stand out most, said Williams. Just when you think you have a true understanding of what leadership is, someone comes along and takes that understanding to a more profound level; this is the essence of CSM Williams. Clearly, he has done this for hundreds of soldiers under his command.
Williams is originally from Florida and enlisted in the Army Jan. 1978. He completed Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Okla. and began his career as an artilleryman. He has held every leadership position in his career field, serving in positions from section chief to Division Command Sergeant Major. His awards and decorations include two Bronze Stars (1 Oak leaf Cluster), Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and several other distinguished metals.
In his current position, Williams says his number one priority has been to take the command to higher heights and lead his soldiers to continually uphold the traditions and customs of this highly visible unit while ensuring that basic skills are being maintained. “I do not view this as a challenge, I consider it an honor and a privilege,” said Williams. “The Army has prepared me for any and every assignment that I have and will take on.”
He believes in the power of inspiration.
“With the proper leadership soldiers will do just about anything you want them to; if they feel inspired, they will follow you with no hesitation” said Williams.
When asked why he chose the life of a soldier, Williams said he initially just wanted to get away from home. “I was raised by my Mom and two uncles (His father died in an accident) and one was a Marine, so following in his footsteps I joined the military, the Army as opposed to the Marines and the rest is history.”
According to Williams, his commitment to building relationships and cultivating them is the reason he has been able to change the lives of soldiers on a daily basis. “The one thing I want soldiers to remember is to tell their story, not the story they think should be told but their individual story…stories that tell of the pride, dedication and commitment of our 21st century soldiers; their extraordinary experiences need to be heard,” he said.
Williams was destined to be a leader; a hard charger with a human touch. He said his leadership style is participatory. “I am a people person, and you have to know me to follow me.”
Williams ended the interview by recalling a recent ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He and the JFHQNCR/MDW commanding general usually present a coin to soldiers for a job well done. He related that after the formal ceremony was over, one of the soldier’s children, three-yr-old Hailey, who had been playing in a nearby flower bed, came over during the coin presentation and said, “This is my coin to you,” which was a small piece of wood. “I still have that ‘coin’ today,” Williams said.