In this post, I would like to talk about your first year in command. Most of us know that the best leaders have a game plan from day one. They never wing it. They have purpose and direction. As a new Company Commander, Battalion Commander or Brigade Commander (or commander at any level) you need a clear purpose and direction. You need to have a crystal clear game-plan on what you will do during your first year in command. You must have goals and know exactly what you want to accomplish.
The first 90 days are vital. What you do during those 90 days will ultimately determine your success or failure as a leader. If you start out right, it will be much easier to develop a winning team of warriors with high morale. And if you start our wrong, it will be difficult to get your unit where you want it to be.
But what are you supposed to do? What are the most critical tasks? Here are some things you should do during your first 90 days in command.
- Publish Your Command Philosophy
- Counsel Your Subordinates
- Finish Your Inventory
- Conduct a Unit Climate Survey
- Review and Revise Unit SOPs
- Create a Leader Development Program
- Set Goals for the Unit
Once you finish your first 90 days in your unit, you should have a good battle rhythm established. From that point you need to constantly assess your performance.
You should do the following each month during your first year in command:
- Have a discussion with your rater with your questions and to get their input
- Pick one major area to focus on and improve in your unit
- Sit down with a personal mentor (not your rater) and share your problems and concerns
- Talk with your peer commanders to see if they need help, or to share ideas
- Read one good leadership book
- Look at your organization from the outside in
- Compare your current progress with the goals you set to assess where you are at
- Set goals for the upcoming month
Additional Tips for Success
I recommend you keep a journal during your first year in command. Write down the good, the bad and ugly. Keep notes of everything that happens. This will be a valuable resource for your second year in command and for future command positions.
In summary, your first year in command is fun and challenging. If you want to be successful, you need to have a game-plan from day one. You need to develop your vision for the organization and you need to set written goals. Once you do that, you need to share that vision (and goals) with your subordinate leaders and Soldiers so they know where the unit is headed. As you make mistakes, learn from them. Always tweak what you are doing and focus on continuous improvement.
What are your thoughts? Please leave comments and questions below, and good luck.