Listed below are some tips for Company Commanders serving in the ARNG and USAR.
You don’t need to incorporate every idea I mention to be an effective Company Commander, but some of these can ideas can have a huge, positive impact in your company.
Here they are, in no particular order.
# 1 Be Yourself: Don’t try to act like General Patton if that’s not your personality type.
Use your strengths to your advantage.
Don’t “act” like someone you’re not.
After all, it’s your Company Command.
And there is only one you; so be yourself.
# 2 Get a Unit Name and Unit Motto: I once heard that every good dog needs a name.
Well, your unit is no different.
Make sure your unit has a name and unit motto.
When you assume command, ask your Soldiers if they like the current name and unit motto.
If they do, keep it.
If they don’t, get recommendations and let your Soldiers vote for their favorite.
Once you have a unit motto, use it.
# 3 Try to Have Fun: Take your Company Command seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
While I was in Company Command, we had a “Ricky Chicken” award.
Ricky was a rubber chicken.
At the end of each drill weekend, we nominated Soldiers who said or did the dumbest thing.
Once we had a few nominations, everyone voted for their favorite.
That person won the award and held it until the next drill weekend.
It had a huge, positive impact on morale.
# 4 Know What to Expect: Before you even apply for a Company Command vacancy position, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
Realize the personal sacrifices you will make for the next 2-3 years.
Be prepared for meetings, armory visits, inspections, and unannounced surprises.
It comes with the job.
Make sure your spouse understands too.
# 5 Use the 90/10 Rule: The 20/80 Rule that says 20% of the things you do produce 80% of the results.
Personally, I think the 20/80 Rule is a little bit off.
I’ve found that it’s closer to the 90/10 rule.
In essence, 10% of your Soldiers do 90% of the work.
Also, 10% of your Soldiers give you 90% of your headaches.
Just remember to spend 90% of your time with the 10% who do things well.
It’s easy to get distracted and spend all your time with the “headaches.”
Don’t do that.
# 6 Invest Time & Energy Into Your Superstars: Identify the superstars in your unit.
Chances are, you already know who they are.
Invest your time and energy into them.
Help them get schools and help them get promoted.
Most Company Commanders spend most of their time with the misfits.
They forget about the “high speed” Soldiers and then wonder why they transfer to another unit or ETS.
Don’t be that type of Company Commander.
# 7 Continue Your Officer Professional Development: Your Officer Professional Development is an ongoing thing.
At a minimum, you should read one book each month about topics such as military history, leadership, communication skills, etc.
Strive to learn something new each day.
This will help make you an effective Company Commander.
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# 8 Keep a Journal or Diary: One of the best things you can do while in Company Command is to keep a journal of your experiences.
Keep notes on what is working and what isn’t.
When you get “new ideas” write them down so you can reference them at a later date.
# 9 Maintain a High Level of Physical Fitness: Many National Guard Company Commanders do not maintain a high level of physical fitness.
Don’t expect your Soldiers to stay in shape if you don’t.
When your unit takes a company APFT, participate with them.
Be the first one in line for push-ups.
Your Soldiers will respect you for this.
# 10 Try to Maintain Balance with Command, Job and Family: This is easier said than done.
Since Company Command is so demanding, you won’t live your life totally in balance.
But, you can still try.
My former Battalion Commander once told me that Company Command will take as much time as you give it.
If you give 10 hours per week, it will take it.
If you give 40 hours per week, it will take that too.
Make sure you get the job done, but don’t forget about your civilian job (that pays your bills) or your spouse or kids.
# 11 Empower Your AGR Staff: You have an AGR staff for a reason.
Empower them to make decisions in your absence.
After all, they handle the day-to-day activities of your unit.
Give them the resources they need to succeed.
And, have their back.
Loyalty is a two-way street.
Your AGR staff will have a huge impact on your level of success as a Company Commander.
# 12 Keep Meetings to a Minimum: I hate meetings.
Actually, I hate ineffective meetings.
If you plan on having meetings, do your due diligence and prepare.
Use an agenda.
Determine the PURPOSE of the meeting.
If you don’t know the purpose, DON’T have the meeting.
And if you do have a meeting, keep it less than an hour.
# 13 Determine Your Priorities: You should have a big 3.
My big 3 were mission planning, collective training and leader development.
I spent 90% of my time on those 3 tasks.
All other tasks were delegated or done after I finished my top 3 priorities.
# 14 Delegate Anything That’s Not a Priority: You can’t do it all.
Once you know your priorities (the big 3), you should delegate everything else.
That doesn’t mean you’re still not responsible.
It just means that other people step up to the plate.
You oversee what they do, and make sure it gets done.
But, you don’t actually do the task.
# 15 Build a Good Relationship with Your First Sergeant: This sounds like common sense, but your relationship with your First Sergeant will make you or break you.
Make sure you determine priorities and responsibilities for each of you.
Also, stay in your lane.
Don’t do your First Sergeant’s duties and don’t make them do your job.
# 16 Put Everything in Writing: If you put everything in writing, you will be more effective.
This includes counseling, disciplinary actions, reprimands, praises and everything else.
People take “written input” more seriously than verbal input.
Plus, you cover your butt and let people know you are serious.
# 17 Maintain a Family Support Group: By regulation, Company Commanders are required to maintain a Family Readiness Group.
And, with today’s OPTEMPO, you will definitely need one.
# 18 Get a Unit Coin: In our unit, we had a unit coin.
It was great for morale.
Our unit coin built a sense of pride within our unit.
You should consider creating a unit coin for your company.
# 19 Strive for Progress, Not Perfection: No person or unit is perfect.
You should strive for continuous improvement.
If you can get your unit to make minor improvements every month, you will be amazed at how much better your unit will be in a relatively short amount of time.
# 20 Develop Your Lieutenants: Remember you are the first military “role model” most of your Lieutenants have ever had.
As the Company Commander, they look up to you.
Spend time with them.
Teach them how to be leaders, Army Officers, and mentors.
Teach them how to do your job.
This is one of your biggest responsibilities.
There are many things you can do to be a successful Company Commander.
Following these tips is a great starting point.
If you have any other tips you can recommend, just leave a comment below to do so.
If you have any questions, just ask and we will answer.