Make the Most of Your Time in Graduate School

A Guest Post by Zachary Griffiths

With an Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) scholarship, the Army sends officers to civilian graduate schools. Last Thursday, I completed a Master’s of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Coming off a demanding staff assignment, I thought graduate school would be easy. However, balancing school, with its classes, homework, and extracurricular opportunities, with family and social engagements was tough. Below are my seven recommendations for things to consider if you’re starting graduate school this fall, are in graduate school, or are planning to attend in the future.

March 16, 2012 – Photo by Timothy L. Hale

Mission Command. Start with Why.

A guest post by Major Kyle Trottier

A common explanation of mission command is that it is telling people what to do, instead of how to achieve the end state. There is normally a desire not to use detailed command and specify precisely how the mission will be executed as some associate this with the negative term, “micromanagement.” However, the successful execution of mission command demands leaders to start with why, the purpose of the action. Simon Sinek explains in his 2011 book, “Start With Why” that the failure to express why will lead to an increase in stress and disorder within an organization. Applying some of the principles found in his book can increase our understanding of mission command, our role in supporting the commander and subordinates, and how to yield more successful organizations.

April 2, 2015 – Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Nicolas Morales

The Executive Officer

A Guest Post by Major David Chichetti

“The XO is a systems guy.” After spending the entirety of my key developmental time as an XO at the battalion and brigade level, I can say, with a good degree of certainty, that this statement is true. Systems are everything. The deftness at which you can develop and refine these systems will be a measure of your success in this position. But before you begin to wade into the never-ending minutiae of regulations, doctrine, emails, meeting notes and random statistics, you need your own routine to manage information and sustain your professional development. Balancing all this is both a challenge and a true test. The purpose of this article is to share some techniques and resources I learned to utilize as an XO to sustain my sanity while “managing up.” Hopefully, it will mitigate the initial shell shock you receive when your inbox hits the 100(+) emails a day mark.

Aug. 13, 2014 – U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook

The Operational Planning Team Leader Revisited

In the last installment, we talked very broadly about being an OPT Leader and the basic skills required to survive in this capacity. In this article, we’ll talk with more fidelity about your team and provide masterful tools for success on a big staff.

Mecole Hardman Jr. gets a little pregame motivation from Soldier-mentors at the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 9, 2016. (Photo by Cheryle Rivas)

Four Leader Life Hacks to Improve Emotional Intelligence Today

Now that we have a better understand of what emotional intelligence is, here are four leader live hacks to improve your capacity – apply one today!

Self Awareness

  • Solicit feedback from subordinates – use the Army’s 360 Assessment or create iterative Survey Monkey feedback mechanisms

Relationship Management

  • Focus on others and optimizing their input to the team
  • Foster diversity of thought

Emotional Control

  • Don’t suppress your emotions – manage them
  • Refocus negative energy on gaining a better understanding of the problem, alternate perspectives, and creative solutions

Self Management

  • Take ten minutes each day to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses – make it part of your personal battle rhythm
  • Incorporate subordinate feedback into your personal goals

Still looking for more? Check out these resources focused on leading the staff!

Emotional Intelligence

Thoughts for Military Leaders

Emotional Intelligence is the hottest leadership catch phrase, but what does it actually mean? At its core, emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a set of characteristics or traits possessed by effective and influential leaders. Emotionally intelligent leaders have a heightened awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and can adjust their leadership approach after reading group dynamics. A recent article defined EQ as consisting of four domains: self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management. This article expands this framework by describing attributes within the context of Army Leadership.

Read More!

March 20, 2015 – Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb