A Leader’s Mentality: Reflections for Junior Military Leaders

Jason Post Pic

3×5 Leadership Blog Note: This post’s author, Jason, was my third executive officer (XO) while I was in company command. He is a good friend and a professional I highly respect. In being the third XO during my command, Jason’s priorities were not on establishing new and robust unit systems; all of our management systems were in place for the most part. This provided him a rare opportunity to look beyond an XO’s daily “close fight” and pay attention to much larger-scope initiatives. Combining this opportunity with Jason’s professional maturity, high intellect, and passion for transformational leadership, he created the below list for other Lieutenant peers. I was immensely impressed with Jason’s reflections and feel many junior leaders can learn from them.  

By Jason Hu

As I neared the completion of my time as an executive officer and began preparing my replacement to assume responsibility; I wanted to summarize the principles I learned and tried to embody on a daily basis as a junior Army leader. When Josh was my commander, I learned and grew so much, and one of the things he indoctrinated in me was to “always leave the organization better than how you found it”. With that, I decided to write some of the tenets that guided me and publish them to other junior leaders within our company and battalion. Although these tenets are aimed towards junior leaders such as the XO, platoon leaders, and platoon-level NCOs, the extrapolated lessons can be applied to leaders in most echelons. I do not think these reflections are a proven recipe for success, but they do serve as a solid foundation to build upon; they worked for me, and they can be helpful to others too. Continue reading → A Leader’s Mentality: Reflections for Junior Military Leaders

Face It: We Are All Managers

L-M Post Graphic

The Problem

“Manager” is an ignored word in the Army. I don’t claim it as a bad or taboo word necessarily; it’s just rarely a word that comes up in regard to positions and roles for Army personnel. Everyone is a “leader” and that is the end of the discussion. ADRP 6-22 defines leadership in detail, but makes no mention of management. Our Army Values follow a “LDRSHIP” acronym. We send Soldiers to “leader development” schools like Ranger or Sapper (Leader). You get the point.

There may be a belief that if you’re a manager, then you’re not a leader. Everyone wants to be a leader. From day one of our Army experience, we are conditioned to grow as leaders. This thought prevails, and rightfully so; there is nothing glamorous about the idea of management. When I think of a typical manager, I think of a department store employee in charge of four or five direct reports that doesn’t know how to inspire them, build teamwork, or effectively communicate; I envision him/her simply yelling at their workers all of the time. Further, there’s no published model of the “transformational management style” (as compared to transformational leadership). Continue reading → Face It: We Are All Managers

The McDonaldization of Our Army: Efficiency Trumping Adaptability

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This post pulls from academic literature regarding how principles of the famous fast-food restaurant, McDonalds, are coming to dominate more and more aspects of American society, and thus the US Army.

George Ritzer authored the book, The McDonaldization of Society, in 1995, which has been updated and republished several times since. His thesis claims that five major principles of the fast-food chain have come to dominate increasing sectors of American society (and the world): efficiency, calculability, predictability, control, and ultimately the irrationality of hyper-rationality.1

Following this line of thought, two USMA professors, LTC (Dr.) Remi Hajjar and Dr. Morten Ender, applied the McDonaldization concept to the Army. They argued in their article, “McDonaldization in the U.S. Army: A Threat to the Profession,” which appeared in the 2005 book, The Future of the Army Profession, that McDonaldization severely threatens the Army as a profession by causing it to act more like a bureaucracy than a profession.2 Continue reading → The McDonaldization of Our Army: Efficiency Trumping Adaptability

Company Command Series Part X: Deployment Readiness

CO COC Pic

This blog post is a continuation of the multi-part Company Command Series covering key aspects of my command experience that I feel other commanders (current and future) can benefit from. This post discusses how to validate your company’s combat readiness and deployability so it is not a surprise when you are called upon to accomplish your mission.

My brigade commander continuously reminded my fellow company commanders and me that, “commanders generate readiness.” He felt so passionate about readiness that he included my capacity to maintain readiness in his senior rater comments in my OER. Readiness really is that important. I believe that equipment and personnel readiness should always be the top priority of a commander (at any level); without sufficient deployability, what are you bringing to the fight?

I believe company commanders can easily establish methods at their level to test and validate their company’s readiness. I can’t think of many things worse than being called to conduct a deployment readiness exercise (DRE) by a higher headquarters (let alone a real world short-notice deployment) where you boast a 95% combat power deployability, but only 60% of your equipment and personnel can leave the motor pool. Commanders generate readiness and it all starts with the company commander. Below are ideas to create a company-level DRE program. Not every DRE requires extensive time and resources; vary your DRE methods up to support your training calendar.  Continue reading → Company Command Series Part X: Deployment Readiness

Company Command Series Part IX: Troop Leading Procedures

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 This blog post is a continuation of the multi-part Company Command Series covering key aspects of my command experience that I feel other commanders (current and future) can benefit from. This post discusses how to maximize operations and Troop Leading Procedures efficiency in your company.

With the often-overwhelming requirements placed on companies, coupled with continuous time constraints, it is hard to implement the Troop Leading Procedures (TLPs) in their entirety. Throughout my command, I often felt that my company and I should be doing more to maximize TLP effectiveness. This is why it is imperative that commanders and companies codify how to conduct TLPs and expectations throughout. This post introduces some aspects that made TLPs successful in my experience, and a few recommendations based on lessons learned. As with all content in these posts, these serve as options for commanders to consider and implement. I encourage readers to share their experiences and lessons in how to effectively leverage TLPs beyond this. Continue reading → Company Command Series Part IX: Troop Leading Procedures

Company Command Series Part VII: Policy Memos

CO COC Pic

 This blog post is a continuation of the multi-part Company Command Series covering key aspects of my command experience that I feel other commanders (current and future) can benefit from. This post discusses company policy memos and recommendations on how to make them effective.

Policy memos tend to be scary commandments that merely collect dust on some ignored unit board outside the commander’s office. Still, these memos are your standing guidance and often influence your unit’s first impression of you as a new commander.

It’s important to make your policies concise, clear, and effective to aid in a successful command. Don’t create policies simply to create policies; you don’t need 16 memos. If your higher headquarters has an adequate policy memo for a specific topic, leave it; you don’t need to re-create the wheel. Army command policy, installation regulations, and unit SOPs will influence what policies you are required to have. This post is not a regurgitation of those requirements. Rather, I am sharing a couple key policies I recommend and how to approach them. Continue reading → Company Command Series Part VII: Policy Memos

Company Command Series Part VI: Additional Duties

CO COC Pic

This blog post is a continuation of the multi-part Company Command Series covering key aspects of my command experience that I feel other commanders (current and future) can benefit from. This post discusses managing additional duties within your company and how to verify they are meeting Department of the Army requirements.

It may seem there are as many required additional duties for your company as you have Soldiers. Without a sufficient system to manage these duties and provide necessary oversight, you may quickly find yourself in trouble with multiple higher headquarters.

At a minimum, your company needs to create and maintain three items for additional duties: duty appointment orders signed by you (the commander), copies of certificates for your appointed Soldiers’ training, and a system to easily track the status of all required duties. I assigned this additional duties management system to my company Training NCO (my gunner). He maintained one binder for the company’s duties and all necessary documentation for each one. Once a month, I personally met with him, First Sergeant, and all platoon sergeants to review additional duties. We forecasted Soldier losses (to PCS, ETS, etc.) and I worked with the platoon sergeants to assign new Soldiers to those duties. My Training NCO left each meeting with a to-do list of new duty-specific training courses to schedule, appointment orders to update, and training certificate copies he needed to obtain. Continue reading → Company Command Series Part VI: Additional Duties

A Leader’s Organization

evernote

Organizing your thoughts, tasks, and goals on a regular basis can be a daunting task in itself. Often, leaders and professionals have no single unifying framework that streamlines their efforts to stay organized and avoid merely treading water at work. During my almost seven years as a military leader, through multiple attempts in revolutionizing my organizational methods, I finally found success in this area: Evernote.

Continue reading → A Leader’s Organization