‘Tis the season of reflection. All the leadership and military blogs are awash with articles from Majors completing their key developmental jobs, capturing fresh insight and prime takeaways from what has likely proven the most demanding 18-24 months of their military careers to date. Every unit is different. Every commander is different. Therefore, every experience is a bit different. The number of articles and essays and the breadth of their focus demonstrate the complexity and challenge of key-developmental assignments. This article deviates from those highlighting the incredibly important processes, roles, and systems that make or break S3s and XOs. Here, the focus is on a matter that is often overlooked or overcome by competing demands: the planning process for post-KD assignments.
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.
The past year has been a great one for me. After years in the salt mines (KD time), I had the opportunity to attend the School of Advanced Military Studies, or SAMS, as a field select.
“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.
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!
- Solicit feedback from subordinates – use the Army’s 360 Assessment or create iterative Survey Monkey feedback mechanisms
- Focus on others and optimizing their input to the team
- Foster diversity of thought
- Don’t suppress your emotions – manage them
- Refocus negative energy on gaining a better understanding of the problem, alternate perspectives, and creative solutions
- 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!
The common enemy of field grade officers is time. There aren’t enough hours in a day to get it all done, and we’re constantly pulled between future plans and current problems. Earlier, we discussed time management as a crucial concept to think through prior to starting a big job. Here are some additional thoughts: