Before you take the guidon, you need to mentally prepare for command. Company Command is a huge responsibility. It requires a mentally tough person, capable of leading Soldiers in a high stress environment; potentially in combat.
Most military officer timelines include a season on brigade or battalion staff before command; that is the ideal time to initiate your preparation. Starting to think about and prepare for command during your change of command inventories is too late; by then, you will be quickly overwhelmed with property accountability, learning the company’s systems, meeting your troops, and the daily demands of a commander. ~ 3×5 Leadership
Here are a few things you can do to prepare for command success:
Prepare For Command Tip 1: Know What to Expect
Please understand that your new leadership position will require a great deal of personal sacrifice. This includes your personal time and even some family time. Be prepared to put your personal agenda on hold for 18-36 months. This will help you prepare for command. In addition, be prepared for some stress, tough decisions, and time commitments.
Prepare For Command Tip 2: Develop a Game Plan
Also known as your command philosophy, your game plan is your vision for the organization. What are your long-term and short-term goals for your unit? What are your priorities? What will be your leadership style? These are all things you should think about before you take charge. Most effective Company Commanders, prepare for command before they take the guidon.
Prepare For Command Tip 3: Reflect on Previous Failures and Successes
By this point in your military career, you should have four to seven years of experience if not more. Spend some time reflecting on previous jobs. What worked well for you in the past? What didn’t? Evaluate your past experiences. Reflect on your experiences. Strive to find ways to turn your past experiences (whether good or bad) into future successes.
Prepare For Command Tip 4: Be Prepared to Start Strong
When you first take the guidon, it’s much easier to start strong and tone down a bit later on (after 9-18 months) than it is to start easy and then switch to hardcore.
Prepare For Command Tip 5: Talk with Former Company Commanders
Take a former Company Commander out to lunch. Make a list of questions you have beforehand, and ask your questions during lunch. Also, you should take the current Company Commander out to lunch and pick his or her brain for a couple hours.
Prepare For Command Tip 6: Read
Prior to taking command, you should read several Company Command themed books. Some of my favorites include: “Taking the Guidon,” “Small Unit Leadership” and “Company Command: The Bottom Line.”These books will give you great tips and insight on how to succeed as a company commander.
You should now have a very good feel for your unit. The next major step is to determine where you want to go. Your commander will have some ideas (philosophically as well as via the QTB) on what you should accomplish. There are two approaches: no changes for the first thirty days (sit back and watch approach) and changes within the first hour. This is totally up to you. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. My view is that this is your unit, and your company directly reflects you. You are responsible for everything, good, bad, right, or wrong from the moment that you take command. If you are uncomfortable with a policy or procedure, then change it. ~ Military Intelligence
In summary, all incoming commanders need to prepare for command. The secret to success is preparation. If you fail to plan you are planning to fail. You can position yourself for success by following the steps outlined in this article. Whatever you do, prepare for command!
Do you have any questions? Any comments? Please post them below. Thank you.