Posted on Feb 11, 2015
CPT Hhc Company Commander
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I hear a lot of talk about leadership. Building it, improving it, complaining about it. We talk about the benefits of the fresh faces to the military and how they have the opportunity to change the culture of the military and improve it.

I just recently started as a company commander, and believe very heavily in mentorship/development of subordinates, as well as the importance of taking care of your troops to continue their growth (both personally and professionally). I hope to foster that growth and encourage people to recognize when a Soldier is struggling, as well as recognition of a job well done.

However, when I look at most of the ideas, I can't help but cringe. The Master Resiliency Training program is a great idea, but I think is horridly warped in its execution by a large percentage of people. I for one do not want to stand in formation and sing "Kum ba yah" as we sway in formation. I will talk about my celebrations with some in my unit, but do not want to stand in front of a group and say "Yeah....so this is something good in my life." Trust falls and powerpoint presentations make my head hurt.

I am curious to see how others have approached the idea of building that "Military Family" and made it possible to be carried out in a method that fosters a camaraderie, but is still enjoyable to some. One thought was setting up an "after drill excursion" (since the training times are usually fairly full) that could include something such as a paintball event with teams (possibly even against the PL/PSG/1SG/CDR...who doesn't want a chance to make that happen?) so that they are required to communicate. It's SOMEWHAT military...and it's not "normal", so it could be a great experience.

Having a Family Day does work too, and the FRG is actually very well established and seems like they are willing to support...but historically, I've seen people that just watch their watches and hang out with the same 2-3 people in their unit without mixing at all.

What experiences have you had that you thought were creative and/or memorable and helped foster your Soldiers/etc to feel like they belonged as a part of the unit?
v/r,
CPT Butler
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CW5 Desk Officer
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Edited 7 y ago
CPT (Join to see), I know this might sound corny, but I'm a huge fan of professional reading programs. If you can get your troops involved and behind a reading program -- a book that you all read and discuss (at drill, for example) -- you've got something going. It may not include the entire military "family," but it could. Maybe books about deployments and families dealing with the separation.

For the military folks ... although they may push back and grumble about it ... I think a professional reading program has lots of potential, especially for your military personnel. And if you do it right, you could even include family members in the process.
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CPT Hhc Company Commander
CPT (Join to see)
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CW5 (Join to see) - That doesn't sound corny at all. I started working on my list, and actually the Battalion XO and I have been sharing things back and forth. Initially that was going to be one of my first discussions, but in searching the forums, I found a few other threads and read through those to find ideas. Also, I read the Chief of Staff's professional reading list as well as that of the "Part Time Platoon Leader/Company Commander"....I forget his name, but he's a retired MAJ. Working on adding to the list, and encouraging my PLs to do the same.

I will say the one that I'm VERY strongly going to push for all of my O-Clubbers to read is "It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership" by Colin Powell. That man is my hero, and his book played a huge role in me making CPT.

I'm hoping to tighten the bonds with the FRG as well, as there are always people coming and going, and as I'm a reservist....in BOTH my mobilizations, there was zero communication/support from the Reserves for the family back home. Our FRG people actually impressed me...and seem to grasp their place in the system. Some of the previous interactions with FRG liaisons weren't the most positive.
v/r,
CPT Butler
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CW5 Desk Officer
CW5 (Join to see)
7 y
Great, sir. I think professional reading programs are often overlooked, and I think they're a great idea. People often complain and grumble, but in the end they learn something, and that's always good. Plus, it gets people talking about a particular topic, and communication is another "always good" topic. Glad to hear you're already "on it."
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SFC S3 Operations Nco
SFC (Join to see)
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CPT Butler,

Getting with our XO regarding motivating reads is a great way to start. This is something we have discussed extensively.

In the past, I have been in units that published a newsletter and found that to be a great forum for the type of thing you are talking about. There can be official business, but also establish a semi-formal resource for planning activities and the like.
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CSM Command Sergeant Major IN
CSM (Join to see)
7 y
The first Battalion Commander I worked with as a CSM had an excellent reading program he used for ODP. All officers, 2LT's up, would have an assigned book each month and at the end of the month at ODP the BC asked questions of everyone, prompting discussions, drawing out what he wanted the take away to be. I saw more leader development at the officer level from that BC than I did the other 6 Battalion and Brigade Commanders I worked with.
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MSgt Michael Durkee
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As CW5 (Join to see) mentioned, professional reading and guided discussion can be great ways for team building. When the team not only participates, but also has the opportunity to contribute to future reading material, it gives them a sense of ownership.
I've instituted the same thing with my combined Civilian and Military integrated product teams (IPT). Our first launch was almost a year ago with The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey.
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CSM Brigade Operations (S3) Sergeant Major
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Sir - I will share with you what my commander and I did at the company level to build the team. I also tried to implement it at the battalion level but my battalion commander wasn't so great at it, nothing against him it was just the way he was.

Sorry for the Infantry terminology but it's all I know, you can translate it into whatever organization you have. The Army tells leaders that we are responsible for developing leaders two levels down and we mentor leaders one level down. To get the team to buy into your philosophy and vision you as a company commander need to focus at the squad leader level.

Company commanders always want to focus on their platoon leaders and you should mentor them but if you want to build the team you have to get the squad leaders to buy in. There are several ways to accomplish this.

Anytime you are issuing an OPORD or conducting TLPs your squad leaders should be present. Believe it or not some of them are very experienced and will have great input during the planning process. Conducting off-site training is another way to build the team. We would do it once a quarter to AAR the quarterly training and talk about the upcoming training, again having the squad leaders present for this allows them to have input and feel like part of the team. We usually went camping for the weekend, everybody brought coolers with food and beer (lots of beer) and we played sports and games along with discussing training. The audience was squad leader and above, this allowed for bonding at the platoon and company level.

At the battalion level we did it a couple times and it worked well but like I mentioned before it just wasn't in my commanders wheelhouse. This is a Soldier only event, no spouses or dependents. You can do the family days, balls, and stuff like that for the families but, once you have the Soldiers on board the families will follow.
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CPT Hhc Company Commander
CPT (Join to see)
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CSM (Join to see) - No worries on infantry terminology. I like the ideas of having SLs present for planning and execution of training, as well as AARs. With the next BA I will start looking into how we can incorporate this into an organized process that I can carry out.

Thanks so much!!
v/r,
CPT Butler
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