Category Archives: Leadership

#Reflections on Leadership: Uncertainty & Tomorrow’s Military Leader

Check out my first major piece outside of this blog published at The Strategy Bridge:

http://www.thestrategybridge.com/the-bridge/2016/6/25/uncertainty-tomorrows-military-leader

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6 Slow Realizations of the Headquarters Company Commander

Few jobs in the Army inspire the phrase “better you than me” than that of a headquarters company command. There are paths to success if you find yourself in that gig, especially if you follow good advice like that offered by Captain Scott Nusom in his article “Surviving Headquarters Company Command” published at From the Green Notebook.

But along the way to completing a successful headquarters command, there are a handful of slow—sometimes painful, sometimes cathartic—realizations that change the way you perceive the job, for better or worse. Continue reading 6 Slow Realizations of the Headquarters Company Commander

On Administration and Leadership: Wisdom from 1942

Once upon a time while working on a history project about US Army casualty operations since World War II, I collected a bunch of old Adjutant General Corps-related documents. One of my favorite eBay scores was Technical Manual (TM) 12-250, the War Department Technical Manual for Administration, dated October 10, 1942.

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Captain Phillipps failed miserably at making sure this thing wasn’t removed from Headquarters.

Continue reading On Administration and Leadership: Wisdom from 1942

Organizational Organization: Things You’ll Miss When They’re Gone

Post #7 in the “In Between” series.

I’ve come to appreciate a handful of things about basic military administration and organization since I’ve spent some time away from it. As a leader, you have the very real responsibility of keeping your organization knit together and operating functionally and smoothly by mastering those administrative/organizational exigencies. We often lose sight of just how fundamental much of what we do in the military is.

From my brief foray into the civilian world, let me share just a few things I miss.

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Don’t be like Zoidberg.

 

Continue reading Organizational Organization: Things You’ll Miss When They’re Gone

An Adjutant’s Advice

One of the very first stops an officer makes when he or she arrives to a new unit is the office of the Adjutant. It makes sense as the Adjutant is usually the S1 Officer-in-Charge, the personnel manager and supervisor, in charge of handling the personnel manning of the organization. But the wise and experienced officer knows that the Adjutant is more than just a pit stop. He or she is a gatekeeper, a hub of information, and one of the leaders in the organization who has the boss’s ear.

Here are some pointers from this Adjutant, ranging from how to best use an Adjutant’s skills to your advantage to how to best manage your records and career.

Continue reading An Adjutant’s Advice

Addicted to Action

After I passed the guidon off to my replacement and moved to California for grad school, I was sad to leave the organization I led for 15 months and the relationships that I forged, but I was relieved to be done. My responsibilities were abdicated, the rat race was complete, and I was off to a new adventure in the Golden State. I now have more time with my family, an amazingly flexible schedule, and the rare chance to expand my educational horizons.

Then it hit me. I miss the action.

I miss the time spent taking care of business, planning training, executing tasks, working with fellow soldiers, and basically staying busy all of the time. I had an Outlook calendar full of events and just had to look at my unit training calendar or the battalion’s long range calendar to know what to expect for the rest of the quarter and those in the future.

And the calendars were full, but never mind that. There were plenty of unscheduled tasks to keep me (and everyone else) gainfully employed because of what many call “fires.”

For the uninitiated, a fire is a problem that, as you can guess, needs to be “put out.” They are usually challenges that crop up outside of the normal battle rhythm or planned events that must be resolved before flaring up, spreading, and drawing the ire of higher-ups.

“If nothing’s on fire, here’s a lighter.”

The problem is that an organization can extinguish fires as they crop up, or they can jump from fire to fire with an unhealthy intent, creating fires where they need not be.  In my short career, there have been frequent periods when just about every day there was a fire to put out.  I found myself joking with peers that, “if nothing’s on fire, here’s a lighter!”- a reflection of the attitude that the organization seemingly always had to have a crisis to handle or we weren’t working hard enough.

What existed was an addiction to action.

I don’t miss that.

Continue reading Addicted to Action

Batman v Leadership, Part 2: The Bad

In Batman v Leadership, Part 1, I discussed five leadership traits of The Batman that represent some of his good, positive leader qualities. But anyone familiar with the Dark Knight’s M.O. knows his techniques, actions, and demeanor are often at odds with what we’d want our kids to take away as healthy behaviors.

Continuing and concluding my two-part look at some of Batman’s leadership characteristics, I now bring you some of the Caped Crusader’s less desirable qualities from which we might be able to learn and avoid ourselves.

Continue reading Batman v Leadership, Part 2: The Bad

Batman v Leadership, Part 1: The Good

Full disclosure up front: I’m a Batman fanboy nerd. He is my all-time favorite comic book hero – a masked vigilante who fights crime, injustice, and evil with his wit, training, preparation, and bottomless bank account. He doesn’t have super powers, and yet he’s a card-carrying founding member of the Justice League and a proven fighter capable of going toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel himself.

But like any man, the Caped Crusader is not without his flaws. Starting with this post and finishing with the planned second part, I will discuss a handful of the Dark Knight’s leadership traits, first good, then bad. What lessons can leaders glean from the World’s Greatest Detective? How many more nicknames for Batman can I use?! Keep reading to find out!

Note: I won’t post any spoilers for the movie. In fact, I’m going to stick mainly to the comics.

Continue reading Batman v Leadership, Part 1: The Good

Behind the Scenes Burnout

I originally wrote this post as a response to a January 19, 2016 CCL KOW post published here and titled “When Enough Becomes Too Much.” Check it out for context. Usually those posts are designed to spark Twitter conversations, but I felt like I had enough input to write a small piece about it.

Note: I wrote this before Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar, but I refuse to change it. It’s still funny.


I know this is meant for a Twitter discussion, but I had more than 140 characters worth of thoughts, albeit somewhat narrow in scope:

I’ve been on both ends of burnout. Serving on staff and as commander of a battalion headquarters company, I know what it’s like to feel burned out and witness it in my soldiers.

While I’m sure there are many who can talk about burnout broadly and personally, I’ll look at the narrow perspective of one of the biggest causes of burnout in Army support personnel and what can be done.

Continue reading Behind the Scenes Burnout

In Between: The One About the Value of Free Time

Sometimes I don’t have anything particularly funny or snarky to write, and sometimes I’m in between more academically-aimed historical or other scholastic pieces. In those periods, I still have things I want to write about, they just fit somewhere in between.  This is the fourth post in a category I call “In Between.”


As part of my master’s curriculum, I recently participated in a multiple-day project that serves as a sort of “rite of passage” for students in the program—an over-the-weekend policy analysis exercise designed to “simulate a real-life work environment in which rapid-response and “land-on-your-feet” skills are at a premium.”

While the project was certainly a valuable education in rapidly developing a meaningful policy analysis product, I came away from it with, what was to me, a profound realization that a civilian school just coopted my entire weekend—with the explicit intent to use the weekend, not weekdays—for a project that could have easily been programmed into a weekday setting with just a little pre-semester intradepartmental coordination.

Continue reading In Between: The One About the Value of Free Time