Goals In Lieu of Vision: A Practical Exercise in Developing a Purposeful Organization

Goals In Lieu of Vision_3x5 Leadership

By Zach Mierva

Recently I was fortunate enough to guide nine cadet companies in developing goals for their organization at the United States Military Academy (USMA), where I currently work. After observing two semesters of failed attempts at mission and vision inculcation, I opted to change the script on how cadets create priorities for their organization to lead deliberately purposeful organizations rather than a group of people who happen to live and work near each other. Working alongside the incoming cadet commanders and first sergeants, flanked with a seasoned TAC NCO (Tactical Non-Commissioned Officer acting as a company First Sergeant) and former USMA cadet leadership, I watched as these future leaders transformed their lofty concepts into tangible steps to improve their formations by leveraging the art and science of creating purpose, direction, and motivation. I found the exercise incredibly impactful as a tool that I believe should be in a leader’s kit bag for future use within any level of an organization and in any industry. Continue reading → Goals In Lieu of Vision: A Practical Exercise in Developing a Purposeful Organization

Self-Development Begets Leader Development

Leader Development Handbook Cover Image_3x5 Leadership

This is part 3 of the 3×5 Leader Development Handbook. I encourage you to start with the introduction here if you have not yet.

One of the most critical lessons I learned as a junior officer and the first piece of advice I offer to young officers is: the Army won’t teach you everything you need to know to be successful in your next job. You need to demonstrate some initiative and do everything you can to learn key aspects of that next job on your own before you get there.

To be successful as a leader and as a leader developer, there must be a deliberate and routine effort toward self-development.

Self-Development Before Leader Development

Self-development is the second step in our leader development approach, pictured below. Before you can lead others, you must lead yourself well. More importantly, you can’t develop others if you’re not developing yourself. Consistently growing your own knowledge, skills, and abilities must occur before you can begin to do the same for the leaders around you. It’s about setting the example as a life-long learner for others and inspiring them to ultimately take responsibility for their own growth. While role-modeling does not necessarily equate to leader development (you can’t develop leaders only through your personal example), it is a critical first step for every leader developer. Continue reading → Self-Development Begets Leader Development

Celebrating Two Years of Leader Development!

2 Year Anniversary Post_3x5 Leadership

Today, 3×5 Leadership turns two years old. Though I never really expected anyone beyond my wife and my mom to read my thoughts on this blog, I started it to share my lessons learned from my experiences and education; my experiences may be singular, but the lessons from them certainly are not. In time, I’ve learned that my blogging has become a critical means of personal reflection, which has ultimately made me a better leader. I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to contribute to our community of practice over the last two years and I look forward to doing so still in the years to come.

So, first, thank you all for your continued support. One year ago today, 3×5 Leadership had 100 subscribers. Over this past year, our subscriber community has grown to almost 1,300 and we surpassed the 100,000 views threshold. I’m certainly not motivated by, nor do I do this for the numbers, but it is humbling to know that this platform has had some sort of impact on a few other people. So, again, thank you for your support. Continue reading → Celebrating Two Years of Leader Development!

2018 Christmas Gift Guide

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Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and may the odds ever be in your favor for those planning to do battle for Black Friday. I wanted to share the top items on my Christmas gift list and my favorite items from 2018. I share these for anyone that is searching for creative gifts for the tactical military leader and/or learning leader in their life, who may prove to be hard to shop for.

My 2017 Christmas Gift List is still very relevant and I encourage you to check it out if you need more ideas. Last year’s gift list was mainly sourced from my experience as a company grade officer in a brigade combat team. This year, the gifts are more based on my experience as institutional schooling faculty (i.e.not currently in the operational Army).

Continue reading → 2018 Christmas Gift Guide

I Used a Commander Social Media Profile for 90 Days; Here’s What Happened

Leader Social Media_3x5Leadership

There’s no argument that social media is now a primary domain for networking and learning connections, receiving news and updates, and staying on top of what’s going on in peoples’ lives that we value. As such, I believe leaders need to seriously consider this domain as one that contributes to their overall leader presence, despite personal opinions about social media. Good commanders go where their Soldiers are; good leaders go where their people are. This idea applies to social media. Our young Soldiers, who are Millennials and now even younger, are on their phones 150 times a day. Why would we not access that rich opportunity to communicate with our people in a domain that they value and already spend so much time in?

So, I gave a commander social media profile a try over the last 90 days. Here is what happened and what I learned. Continue reading → I Used a Commander Social Media Profile for 90 Days; Here’s What Happened

The 3 Key Elements to a Young Leader’s Organization

3 Key Elements to a Young Leader's Organization_3x5 Leadership

 “Administrative discipline is the index of combat discipline. Any commander who is unwilling or unable to enforce administrative discipline, will be incapable of enforcing combat discipline. An experienced officer can tell, by a very cursory administrative inspection of any unit, the caliber of its commanding officer.” –GEN George Patton, referenced in Commons Sense Training: A Working Philosophy for Leaders, by LTG (Ret.) Arthur S. Collins

On the spectrum of what is urgent and important as a leader, I firmly believe that leader development is one of the most important. But we can only effectively tackle leader development if we are organized to deal with the urgent and other necessary stuff like administrative issues. A leader must be personally organized, and must ensure his/her organization is as well, in order to maximize impact on those important things like leader development.

I write about this now because it is extremely relevant to my current job and I am learning this necessity the hard way. As a Tactical Officer (TAC) of a 120-Cadet company at the United States Military Academy (USMA), my primary responsibilities are Cadet leader development and being the integrator of the four pillars of their development (academic, military, physical, and character). However, I can only begin to think about getting after these priorities if I have comprehensive and effective organizational systems. I am the legal commander of the Cadet company, but I don’t have the headquarters staff of a “normal” company commander, so my days can quickly become overwhelmed by administrative demands. I must have strict personal and company systems in place so we can get to that “graduate level” of leader development that we have the potential to with the Cadets. Continue reading → The 3 Key Elements to a Young Leader’s Organization

Recommended Apps to Support Your Leader Self-Development and Growth

Leader Learning Apps_3x5 Leadership

There are thousands of online lists offering recommended productivity or “life-hack” apps to help improve your time management, collaboration, and organization. Without question, many of these recommendations are immensely valuable. However, I’ve recently come to wonder what apps people use to support their growth and development, especially as leaders. Unfortunately, there are not as many lists targeted to this topic.

Thus, as a follow up to my previous leader growth tools blog post, I want to offer my recommendations of apps that I leverage to aid in my daily pursuits to learn and grow as a leader in the various roles in my life. Many of these are tailored to my preferred methods of learning and may not necessarily work for you. However, I believe this list can at least get you thinking of a system (app or otherwise) to fill that particular void in your learning efforts. Continue reading → Recommended Apps to Support Your Leader Self-Development and Growth

What Tools Are You Using for Your Leader Growth?

Basic CMYK

What is the primary tool you use to learn and grow as a leader?

How do you record key experiential lessons or ideas in the moment?

Finally, how do you maintain them for long-term retention and use?

I argue that every leader should define how they are learning and what tool(s) they use toward that effort.

In his blog, From the Green Notebook, Joe Byerly clearly defines his learning tool as the famous Army green notebook. Here, on 3×5 Leadership, I identify mine as the common 3×5 index card. I believe there is an important message conveyed on the value of defined learning tools when leader development blogs such as these are named after the author’s tool of choice.

After defining what their learning tool of choice is, I often see leaders struggle to make the next necessary step: to do something with the product. I don’t believe it’s terribly effective to keep a bookshelf of filled green notebooks that are likely untouched afterwards, or to keep a box full of hundreds of filled-out index cards somewhere on a shelf or closet. Further, like almost every Army leader, I too use a green notebook. However, it often becomes filled with daily urgent “to do” lists in addition to insightful leader lessons that I should remember years down the road. How do you separate those so the important lessons are not lost in the noise of the notebook daily tasks? To truly learn from the lessons you record, you need to make them easily accessible. I argue that you need to create a personal learning resource to centralize your valuable lessons. Continue reading → What Tools Are You Using for Your Leader Growth?

A Final 3×5 Leadership Reflection on 2017…and A Look Toward 2018!

2017-2018

Over the 47 blog posts to date, there have been a few key posts that seemed to resonate most with readers. I wanted to end the year by highlighting the five most-read 3×5 Leadership blog posts of 2017 and share some insight into what I think that means. These five posts form only 11% of the total published blog material, but have generated 43% of the total traffic to the site. These posts mean something to readers and I think it is important to discover what that is.

Please share any thoughts you may have over the implications of these top five posts below. Is there anything that you feel we should investigate further and write about on the blog in 2018? I enjoy hearing and value others’ reflections on the blog’s material. Continue reading → A Final 3×5 Leadership Reflection on 2017…and A Look Toward 2018!

Christmas Gift Guide for the Military Tactical & Inquisitive Leader

Xmas Post Pic

Do you have a military, tactical, and/or inquisitive leader in your life? Are you stumped on possible Christmas or holiday gift ideas for them? 3×5 Leadership is here to help. Below are 15 gift ideas that I believe in and feel the leader in your life can benefit from. Happy shopping, Merry Christmas, and happy holidays! Continue reading → Christmas Gift Guide for the Military Tactical & Inquisitive Leader