Small Unit Leadership by Dan Malone is my favorite military leadership book of all time. This book is geared for small unit leaders (officers and NCOs), those lucky folks serving at the company and platoon level. What I like most about this book is his no nonsense leadership and writing approach. COL (ret) Malone calls a spade a spade and tells you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear. The author is a true leader and man’s man.
Col (ret) Dan Malone’s thesis is that the mission of small unit leaders is to prepare their troops for combat. Everything else is secondary. I couldn’t agree more! Sometimes this important lesson is easy to forget, especially when we are bombarded with inspections, briefings, meetings, Power Point Slides and all of those other unimportant, but urgent things that take up most of our time.
At the end of the day, our most important job as a small unit leader is to make sure our troops are mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for combat, so they can get their job done and return home safely.
Who is the Book For?
This book will benefit both officers and NCOs alike. It’s also good for business owners, executives, fire fighters, policemen, and any other small unit leader. If you supervise people, you should have a copy of this book in your leader’s library and you should refer to it daily. I think it would also benefit future leaders; people who want to be leaders one day.
What I Love about Small Unit Leadership
What I love most about this book is that the author keeps things simple. He doesn’t use any fluff or “politically correct” statements to make you feel good about yourself. He tells you what you really need to do to succeed as a leader. The book is well organized, easy to read and is absolutely jam packed with great content. If you were to see my original copy, you would find that I had hundreds of sentences underlined and highlighted and many of the pages were dog eared. I must have devoured this book 8-10 times in a few short years.
How Did the Book Help Me?
Let me begin by telling you that this book really shaped my military leadership style. I read this book a few years before I became a Company Commander. Everything I did as a Company Commander stemmed from the principles I learned in this book. Even my Command Philosophy was drafted around the principles I learned in Small Unit Leadership. I also use the leadership lessons to help me run my own successful small business today.
In essence, I learned the role of a leader. I learned how to be a leader. I learned how to deal with different people with different skill sets, different levels of motivation, and different attitudes. I also learned how to create a “winning environment” and “unify” a group of Soldiers or civilians.
When I left Company Command, I left my personal copy of this book for the incoming Company Commander. I truly hope this book helped him as much as it did me. I give this book a 10 of 10 and consider it mandatory reading for any small unit leader. If you haven’t read it, please do so immediately. It will be the best $12 you can spend! The book is 192 pages. It was first published in 1983 by Presidio Press.
In conclusion, Small Unit Leadership by Dan Malone is a must read for any Army leader, especially leaders at the company and platoon level. I look at it as the “Leadership Bible” for military leaders. The book will teach you the ins and outs of being an effective leader, preparing your troops for combat, and building a highly motivated and disciplined unit. If you could only have one book in your Leader’s Library, this is the book you would want.
On a side note, if you have read Small Unit Leadership by Dan Malone, I would love to hear from you. Please tell us how the book helped you and what you learned from it. Just leave a comment to this post to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.