You probably won’t find a lot of former Company Commanders out there who will admit to the mistakes they made during their time in Company Command. I’m going to do that today, in hopes of helping future and current Company Commanders from making the same mistakes that I did.
While I had a very successful Company Command, I was far from perfect. I did a lot of things well, I messed up on some things, and I was okay in other areas.
Now that I’ve been out of Company Command for more than three years, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my experience.
In the paragraphs below, I want to share some of my worst mistakes and give you some recommendations so you don’t make the same mistakes.
1. I Didn’t Spend Enough Time Developing my Lieutenants: I did my best to develop my LTs, but I should have done a better job. I always did their written initial and quarterly counselings, but I should have spent more time doing 1-on-1’s, OPDs, and cross-training. I should have spent more time teaching them HOW to be a Commander one day. I should have pulled them aside each drill weekend and asked them what I could do to serve them and help them.
2. I Didn’t Delegate Enough: For the first year of my Command, I did not delegate enough. I had great people working for me. I was fortunate in that regard. But being the doer that I am by nature, I tried to do a lot of things myself that I should have delegated to my AGR Staff and subordinates. Sometimes I might have been too involved in the day-to-day operations of the unit. I don’t think of myself as a micro-manager, but I was sometimes too “involved” with what was going on because I cared so much. I guess this could be seen as a strength or weakness, depending upon how you look at it.
3. I Didn’t Help My Peers Enough: I always tried to help my fellow Company Commanders when they needed it, but I should have done a better job with it. In many cases, I was so busy focusing on my company that I forgot to realize that our company was part of a battalion. I should have spent more time asking my peers how could I help them and do extra things to make their life easier.
4. I Spoke My Mind Too Much: I am by nature an emotional and vocal person. If I am thinking something, I will tell you. Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me and spoke my mind to whoever was around me. Had I to do it all over again, I would have bit my lip more. I would have NEVER mentioned anything negative to my direct reports. I would have always sent my problems up to my boss, rather than let some of my subordinates know the problems that I or my command team were dealing with. In addition, rather than trying to fight every little battle, I would have been more strategic picking which battles to fight.
5. I Neglected the Family Readiness Group/Family Support Arena: I really blew it in this area. To be honest with you, with the other ten million things going on, it just wasn’t a high priority for me. It wasn’t even in my top 20 priorities. I know some of you might be thinking “how could you?” but the truth is, something had to give. Had I to do it all over again, I would definitely place more emphasis in this area.
These are probably the five biggest mistakes I made during my time in Company Command.
There is one piece of advice I would like to share with you before I close out this article. Here it is: you can’t do it all. Before you take the guidon you have these lofty goals. That’s great. But you will quickly discover that as an ARNG or USAR Company Commander, you have very LIMITED time to do everything that needs to get done. As a result, you have to set priorities, and sometimes, something has to give. There honestly just might not be enough time to get everything done that you want to get done.
The key to success is to focus on the big things first: training, getting the mission done, preparing your troops for combat, and leader development. If you can get those things working right, you will be well on your way to success.
Once again, I did my best and made a positive difference. I am proud of my accomplishments. But hind sight is always 20-20. If I was going to serve as a Company Commander again starting tomorrow, these are four areas I would do a better job with.
What are your thoughts? What mistakes did you make as a Company Commander? Leave a comment below and let us know. Also, if you have any questions that I may be able to help you with, you can post them below.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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