Life after S3 and XO – Recommendations on Proactive Assignment Planning

A Guest Post by Rick Montcalm and Adam Brady

‘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.

Nov. 6, 2014

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy J. Fowler

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

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

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!

The Field Grade Leader in a Stryker Formation

My first experience with Strykers was as a field grade officer after service in both Armor and Light formations. The Stryker formation is powerful, but only if leaders understand its true capabilities and limitations. This article highlights the strengths of a Stryker formation and how field grade leaders enable success by exploiting those relative advantages.

A Major’s Guide to Communication

One of the most challenging facets of life as a staff officer is pulling information from inside of your head and distributing it across the formation. Your day is filled with meeting after meeting and the precious time in your office is often spent putting out fires or answering e-mails from the hyperactive Brigade S3. To counter lack of available time, master effective and efficient means of communication to ensure shared understanding across your formation. I’ve highlighted a few, ranked from least to most effective: