2019 Holiday Shopping Guide for Leaders

Xmas Post Pic

While I’m no Oprah with an internationally famous “Favorite Things” list or Ellen with the 12 days of Giveaways madness, I do recognize the challenges of holiday gift giving — and professional and military leaders are no exception. To help inspire some thinking on gifts for those challenging professionals on your list, below are some of my favorite items from 2019 and ones I’m excited about in 2020.

Most of these items don’t fit the typical “military tactical leader” list of field gear or gadgets. Instead, they more reflect my current operational environment in a “broadening assignment” with less field time and more professional business workplace environment. Yet, I believe many can benefit from these items no matter their field of work or environment. Continue reading → 2019 Holiday Shopping Guide for Leaders

A Junior Officer’s Perspective on Surviving as an Aide-de-Camp: 6 Rules for Success

Aide-de-Camp Rules_3x5 Leadership

By CPT Desmond Clay (LG), CPT Paul Guzman (AR), and CPT Kyle Hensley (LG)

Serving as an aide-de-camp to a General Officer is a humbling and unique experience. This is one of the relatively rare jobs where a junior officer has an opportunity to gain insight on how the “Big Army” runs. Although it has been a few years since we served as aide-de-camps (AdC), there are a few enduring lessons we would like to share. Rarely is the transition period long enough to capture or discuss every possible contingency. Although there is a formal course for an enlisted aide, there is not a course for an AdC. Luckily, there is a General Officer Aide Handbook to help you navigate through this small community with some really helpful tips (1). We think there are six rules for success. Continue reading → A Junior Officer’s Perspective on Surviving as an Aide-de-Camp: 6 Rules for Success

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

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?

[168 Series] “Remember How Much Nothing We Used to Do?”

3x5 Leadership 168 Series The Military Leader

This is Part X, the conclusion, of the “168-Hour” series addressing how leaders spend their available 168 hours per week to grow and develop. You can begin this series with Part I, here.

By Andrew Steadman, author of The Military Leader

Writing about time can make a person a bit of an existentialist. The act of tallying and cataloging (not to mention publishing) life’s activities into discreet portions inspires a notion that there is freedom and control over those activities: “I choose to get seven hours of sleep every night and make it so.” “I leave work at 5:30 everyday.” “I get up at 4am to read. And I never miss a morning because I’m hungover from the St. Patrick’s Day party…” This averaging process grants more credit than most of us deserve.

Generally, I am not as disciplined as I want to be, nor as focused, nor as productive. I have plenty of projects and ideas out there, many in Evernote and Moleskine, just waiting to be brought forth. And I always seem to be fighting for time to accomplish them. Perhaps, though, the enemy is not a lack of time, but a lack of focus. Even when I do allot the requisite time to accomplish the next important thing, the unceasing rush of shiny objects sabotages my intent. Continue reading → [168 Series] “Remember How Much Nothing We Used to Do?”

[168 Series] Organized Chaos from Doctrine Man!!

3x5 Leadership 168 Series Doctrine Man

This is Part IX of the “168-Hour” series addressing how leaders spend their available 168 hours per week to grow and develop. You can begin this series with Part I, here.

By Steve Leonard, creator of Doctrine Man!!

“There is no greater harm than that of time wasted.” – Michelangelo

There are 168 hours in a week. Seven days, 24 hours per day, with most of those hours spent awake. I average roughly six hours of sleep each night, leaving me 126 hours each week to use as I see fit. How do you make the best use of that time? Do you make the best use of that time? Those are the two questions that gnaw at me the most, the two questions that drive me forward each day, and the two questions that linger at the end of each day.

The answer to those questions can be found in how I organize for the day, the week, the month, and even the year ahead. I tend to be very goal oriented, with a task focus that borders on an obsessive-compulsive disorder: always looking for that next project, that next initiative, that next article, that next opportunity to create something unique. I thrive off checklists, both as a way of organizing and prioritizing those “nexts” and as a method to build and sustain momentum once I get started.

As a leader, I learned long ago to carry one of those ubiquitous green notebooks. Continue reading → [168 Series] Organized Chaos from Doctrine Man!!

[168 Series] If You’re Not Learning, You’re Not Leading

3x5 Leadership 168 Series Jon Silk

This is Part VIII of the “168-Hour” series addressing how leaders spend their available 168 hours per week to grow and develop. You can begin this series with Part I, here.

By Jonathan Silk

In my experiences, I have found a leader’s personal desire to learn at an individual level impacts organizational learning and culture by helping them become a catalyst for change. Formal education and external training programs expose leaders to new ideas and concepts that can be applied to the organization. For an organizational culture to be sustainable, leaders have to embrace learning at organizational level and a personal level. If leaders aren’t learning, they aren’t leading. Continue reading → [168 Series] If You’re Not Learning, You’re Not Leading

[168 Series] Live, Learn, Repeat – Making the Most of a Week

3x5 Leadership 168 Series Mick Ryan

This is Part VII of the “168-Hour” series addressing how leaders spend their available 168 hours per week to grow and develop. You can begin this series with Part I, here.

By Major General Mick Ryan, Australian Army

The responsibility for professional development between periods in formal programs rests with the individual officer. This responsibility does not stem from laws or resolution as it does in some other professions, but is inherent in the nature of the military officer’s calling. It is inherent because the body of knowledge which constitutes the art and science of war is not only broad and deep, but is also dynamic. Thus, an officer can never truly complete his education. Learning must be a never-ending process.

LTGEN Paul Van Riper, 1982

In 2000, I published my second ever journal article.  The subject was an examination of the maneuverist approach. I undertook two short case studies in the article.  The first explored the Battle of Lake Trasimene where in 217 BC, Hannibal ambushed and destroyed a Roman force of 30,000.  The second examined the 1862 Valley Campaign of Stonewall Jackson.  The process of writing the article kindled within me a growing appreciation of studying our profession.

Shortly afterward, I attended the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, followed thereafter by attendance at the School of Advanced Warfighting.  This period from 2001 to 2003, was a pivotal professional and personal two years in my life.  The attendance at these schools, against the backdrop of September 11, 2001, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, fostered a deep appreciation within me of the profession of arms.  This dawning appreciation also made clear to me how much I had to learn about our great profession. Continue reading → [168 Series] Live, Learn, Repeat – Making the Most of a Week