In today’s post, I would like to discuss my top seven leadership tips for small unit leaders in the Army.
This information pertains to anyone from the Team Leader to the Company Commander level; both NCOs and officers alike.
Let me preface by saying that the squad is the MOST important element in the entire Army.
Without squads, there would be no platoon, company, battalion, brigade or division.
In most battles, we fight as squads and platoons, not as brigades or divisions.
Now, I’m not saying that brigades and divisions aren’t important.
I just believe that the “small unit leaders” have the most important job in the Army.
Remember, the Army’s mission is to fight and win America’s land battles.
And without squads and platoons, we would have no one to fight those battles.
If you are fortunate enough to serve as a small unit leader, never take your position for granted!
You have the most important job in the Army: training and leading our SOLDIERS in combat!
If I could have spent 20 years at the company level, I would have.
It’s an honor and privilege working with troops.
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Today I’m going to give you my top 7 leadership tips to help do your be a better small unit leader.
Let’s get started:
1. Have a Game Plan: Whenever you are training, are conducting a mission, or have to get something done, be prepared!
Never wing it.
Always have a game-plan.
When possible, develop a basic OPORD, even if it is just handwritten on paper.
Think about what needs to be done, identify the key tasks and develop some type of plan.
Once you do that, share your plan with your team members.
This is what you get paid to do, so make sure you do your job right.
Also, remember the 1/3 – 2/3 rule and give your subordinates enough time to do their planning.
2. Train as You Fight: Always provide tough, realistic training.
Be battle focused.
You must train your Soldiers so they are mentally and physically prepared for combat.
That means that training must be tough and realistic.
To do that, you have to get out of the armory and go to the field.
Never shortchange your Soldiers by finding the easy way out.
Make sure you schedule the time and resources to conduct training.
3. Focus on the Basics: This might just be the most important point I make in this post.
Always focus on the basics: shoot, move and communicate.
Sure, we all have a MOS and need to know our job, but we are all Soldiers first.
Make sure your troops are proficient with the warrior tasks, such as (1) call for fire, (2) communicate on a radio, (3) qualify with assigned weapon, and (4) first aid.
In combat, these will be the most crucial skills.
All Soldiers MUST know these skills.
Don’t neglect your MOS and collective training, but don’t forget to focus on individual training, too.
4. Teach Your Followers Your Job: If you are a Squad Leader, teach your Team Leaders how to do your job.
If you are a Team Leader, teach your Soldiers how to do your job.
If you are a Company Commander, teach your Company XO and Platoon Leaders how to do your job.
Anything can happen in combat.
We could get taken out at any time.
That’s why we need to make sure that we have competent people who can replace us.
Make sure you spend some time grooming your followers, so they could do your job if something happened to you.
5. Develop leaders, not Followers: I admit that you have to learn how to follow before you can lead.
Good follower-ship is the foundation of good leadership.
As a leader, you want to develop “independent thinkers.”
I’m not talking about people who rebel against leadership.
Instead, I’m talking about people who can think outside the box and don’t have to consult with their boss every time they have to make a decision.
To develop leaders, put your Soldiers in leadership positions.
Give them tasks and challenges and see how they do.
Put someone else in charge for a day and evaluate their performance.
Teach your people what you do each day.
6. Lead from the Front: Always be a strong example for others to follow.
Ask yourself “would I want ten people just like me working for me?”
This means you need to stay in shape, qualify with your weapon, look like a professional, show up on time, complete the required schools, etc.
Don’t be the person who enforces standards, but doesn’t follow the same standards yourself.
Remember, your Soldiers are always watching you.
7. Be an Advocate: When you lead people, your job is to serve them.
Be a servant leader.
That means that you are responsible for their health and welfare.
In essence, you are their advocate.
That means you need to hold them accountable, but you also need to look out for them.
Don’t be scared to put your neck on the line to stick up for one of your Soldiers (if needed).
If you don’t look out for them, no one else will.
Please know that I’m not talking about babying them either.
You shouldn’t do that.
But you should make sure that no one else takes advantages of them or messes with them.
And you should make sure that your Soldiers get the same opportunities as other Soldiers in your unit.
In summary, these are my top seven leadership tips for small unit leaders in the Army.
I truly believe that small unit leaders have the most important job in the Army.
If you are in a similar position, be happy about it.
You have an important job.
What are your thoughts?
What leadership tips can you recommend for small unit leaders in the Army?
Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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