The Company XO & 1SG Relationship

While the Company Commander leads the company, the XO and 1SG run the Company.  Working together you and the 1SG form the command team which supports the Company Commander and the unit.  As the XO, a great relationship with the Company 1SG is vital.

Some of us are fortunate enough to have an old-crusty 1SG who lives and breathes excellence.  Others aren’t so lucky.  Of course, these exceptions go both ways.  Some XOs are squared away and others aren’t.  Either way, these great relationships don’t just happen by accident.  You have to work to develop them!

In this article we will explore a few tips in developing and fostering a great Company XO & 1SG relationship, so you can work well together and get the job done.

To begin, it is often a good idea to sit down with your 1SG and Company Commander together, so the three of you can establish your lanes.  What you want to do is determine who will be responsible for what, so everyone knows what their job is and no one steps on each other’s toes.  This helps build a harmonious command team.

There will be some instances where you have a difference of opinion.  That is perfectly normal.  There will even be some “gray” areas.  After all, not everything is black or white.  What matters most is that you are all focused on making the unit successful and you know who is responsible for what.  If you can do that, you can work through just about any challenge or situation.

While the Company Commander and 1SG will typically spend most of their time together, a good work flow between you and the 1SG is critical.  Keeping each other informed of issues and decisions made will strengthen your efforts and prevent conflicts.

Always make sure that the two of you are on the same page and be willing to compromise.  There is always more than one way to skin the supply, maintenance and logistics cat.  Good communication is essential to ensure that you aren’t butting heads in front of other NCOs or Soldiers.

Personally, I always CC my 1SG in any correspondence between me and the AGR Staff (or technicians).  I also touch base with the 1SG at least once a week to remain on the same sheet of music, and to discuss any open issues or potential issues.

One mistake that most officers make is assuming that because they have the rank that they know everything.  Nothing grinds an NCO’s gears more!  One way to ensure a good relationship with your 1SG is to listen.  You may be a hard charger and ready to take the company to the next level at 100 MPH, but remember that your 1SG has most likely seen and done it before.  They have the experience that you don’t have!

Go to them for their input on items (even if you may not need their input) and let them know that you are a team player and value their opinion.  Take an interest in their personal goals and interests.  You will be surprised how much your relationship will grow just from listening.  Remember, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

jobs before 1sgThe last tip I have would be setting goals together.  Whether the two of you are sitting down and establishing maintenance goals or a goal to ensure that all NCOERs are complete by the end of month, do it together.  This is my last tip because it encapsulates all of the previous tips.  Establishing goals together gets you talking and listening to each other and focused on achieving the same goal (although you may be working separately and doing things differently, you still have the same objective).

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it, some of my best tips for establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your 1SG.  Is it all inclusive?  Absolutely not! But these are a few things I have done while working with my 1SG.  Will it prevent all issues and mean that you’ll never butt heads?  No, but taking some of these tips and applying them will be the shocks that help soften the bumpy road you both will travel over together.

What are your best tips?  To any of you former or current Company XO’s and First Sergeants, please leave a comment below to share any tips you can recommend for building a rock solid Company XO and 1SG relationship. Any information would be appreciated.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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4 thoughts on “The Company XO & 1SG Relationship”

  1. As far as leadership goes, as a 1SG or a leader in general, I think #2 and #4 are huge.

    The decision making and the oral and written communication skills are huge. All of the skills learned are needed, but making sound decisions quickly and communicating effectively are huge.

    Having never been a 1SG but dealing with a few, those are just my two cents.

  2. Justin, great post. When leaders all realize they need each other, and by working together, the whole system will run smooth. When one person assumes they “know it all,” and do not work together, everything will break down. We see this not only in military circles, but in many civilian positions too. Rank doesn’t make a man or woman, respect and hard work does.

  3. Justin,

    These are all great tips for a Company XO to work effectively with their 1SG. At the end of the day, you need defined roles, you must communicate effectively, you must respect each other, and you must work towards common goals. If you have a personality conflict, put that aside and work toward mission accomplishment, improving the unit, and taking care of Soldiers. Do that and you will be successful. Do anything else and you will be frustrated and ineffective.

    Chuck

    1. Chuck, exactly – and respecting your 1SGs experience and knowledge will get you far. Let him do his job, you do yours – just set up the expectations and clearly define your lanes so there is no confusion.

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