Helpful Business Lessons for Company Commanders

Business Lessons for Company CommandersOne of the most influential business books I’ve ever read is the “E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber.

In his classic book, he discusses why most businesses fail.

His thesis (paraphrased) is that “most businesses fail because the owner of the business spends their time on the wrong tasks.”

Most unsuccessful business owners spend their time “working in their business, rather than working on their business.”

Let me tell you, this advice has personally transformed my life.

Fortunately, I read this book before I took Company Command.

Because of the book, I realized that my job as the Company Commander was to be busy working on my unit, not working in my unit.

Most Company Commanders forget their true purpose.

As the leader, your true purpose is to lead, grow, and develop your organization, not to run your organization.

Your job is to determine what you want your unit to be like and help it get there.

Don’t make the common mistake of letting the day-to-day activities consume you.

Don’t be so busy doing other people’s jobs that you forget to do your job.

Your job is to be able to “step back” from the day to day activities and focus on the bigger picture.

In essence, your bigger picture is “ensuring your troops are trained for combat.”

Additionally, you must focus on developing your leaders, improving your organization and finding creative ways to be effective, excellent and efficient.

I talk with so many Company Commanders who are busy.

While I admire their work ethic, I disapprove of their strategy.

Remember, it’s not your job to be busy.

Instead, it’s your job to be effective.

If you don’t perform your job, no one else will.

And ultimately your unit will fail.

Now, we don’t want that to happen.

So, I’m going to give you a few key tips.

As the Company Commander you should:company commanders

1. Determine Unit Objectives: You must set short-term and long-term goals for your organization.

These goals must be written down, posted around the armory and shared with your followers.

This lets them know WHAT they are working toward.

2. Develop Subordinates: This includes counseling, professional development, discipline, etc.

Make leader development a high priority.

Spend at least 30-40% of your time mentoring and developing your followers.

This will improve your organization, build loyalty, and increase morale throughout your organization.

3. Provide Vision: You must ensure your followers understand why they are doing what they are doing.

You should have a written vision statement posted on the bulletin board.

Make sure you give each soldier a copy too.

A powerful vision from a strong leader can make a HUGE difference in any unit.

4. Set the “Tone” or “Personality” of the Unit: Ultimately, your unit is a reflection of you.

Your job is to set the right tone for the organization.

Don’t be a slacker!

Be on time.

Keep a positive attitude.

Look for the best in people.

When things get difficult, remain calm, confident and poised.

5. Conduct Strategic Planning for Your Unit (yes, even at the tactical level): Finally, you must conduct strategic planning for your unit.

This is the big picture of why you do what you do and what type of organization you want to create.

This also includes mission planning.

You will probably spend half your time on mission planning and organization planning.

This includes writing OPORDs, conducting the Troop Leading Procedures, doing staff estimates, etc.

90% of your time should be spent on these five tasks.

You should spend the remaining 10% of your time putting out fires, handling issues, running meetings, dealing with your boss, etc.

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  4. The Top 5 Lessons I Learned as a First Sergeant
  5. Military Management Lessons from the One Minute Manager

Please know that it’s easy to be consumed by the minutia.

It’s easy to get burnt out, stressed out and overwhelmed, feeling like you have to do it all.

Well, you don’t have to do it all.

You simply need to know what your real job is and you need to teach your subordinates what their job is.

If everyone knows their responsibilities (as you see it) everyone can stay in their lane and get the job done.

And if everyone knows their job, there isn’t much to worry about.

When something goes wrong, the person who is responsible for that task simply resolves the issue.

The key point here is that Company Commanders must follow Michael Gerber’s advice and “be busy working on their unit rather than be busy working in their unit.”

I hope that helps.

If you got something from this blog post, all I ask is that you play it forward and share what you learned with one of your followers.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to check out my Army Officer Guide.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.

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4 thoughts on “Helpful Business Lessons for Company Commanders”

  1. Always beware of the "meeting mentality" I've been in units where some commanders spend the majority of their time in meetings when subordinates could be handling most of these mundane tasks. A simple meeting about personnel could drag on for two hours. There isn't much time to establish long term goals if you're spending half your day in meetings.
    You shouldn't need to put out every fire in your section. There are plenty of leaders around for those tasks.

  2. The quote here about working “in” their business compared to working “on” the business is so true. Those in leadership positions, such as Company Command, need to be able to step back and understand their overall role. It’s too easy to get stuck in the daily tasks and forget the big picture. Good advice!

    1. You are spot on Leslie. And that is hands down one of the biggest mistakes that Company Commanders make. They are so busy working in their unit that they forget to work on their unit.

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