Company Command: Building Combat-Ready Teams

Army, June 2005 | Go to article overview

Company Command: Building Combat-Ready Teams


To: Company Commanders

From: Company Commanders

CC is company commanders. We are in an ongoing professional conversation about leading Soldiers and building combat-ready teams. Company Commanders connect at: http://CompanyCommand. army.mil

The Company-Level Leadership Newsletter

Members of the CompanyCommand professional forum receive the Company-Level Leadership (C-LL) Newsletter via e-mail. The foundation of each newsletter is a leadership "nugget" up front (a story or insight focused on leading at the company level) and links to exceptional content that commanders have shared in the CC forum. Our goal with each newsletter is to spark your thinking and to connect you with ideas and content that will directly impact your effectiveness as you build a combat-ready team. Here are excerpts from two newsletters.

Is Your Company "PHAT"? (Newsletter #27)

Imagine that you are a heavy Field Artillery (FA) commander in Iraq today. Up until a few months ago, your "reason for being" as a FA unit revolved around quickly putting massive amounts of steel on target. Today, your guns and FDC equipment sit idle as you and your soldiers clear buildings, patrol, establish and operate check points, conduct crowd control, and do whatever else needs to be done to win the war. It seems that every branch and type of unit in the Army is facing new challenges. We believe that to excel in this environment, you have to be PHAT: Purpose driven, Humble, Adaptive, and Tenacious

Purpose driven: Your purpose as a unit goes beyond the roles and tasks that have defined it. As we step into new missions and situations, it is important that we stay grounded in our greater purpose, which entails serving our nation when called. In the context of your current situation, what would your Soldiers say is the unit's purpose? When Soldiers have shared clarity around purpose and when that purpose drives everything they do, they become a force to be reckoned with.

You can cultivate understanding of and commitment to your unit's purpose by inviting your Soldiers to the table of discussion-it isn't something you can order to happen. Pull your leaders together to talk about the unit's purpose and how that purpose fits into the bigger picture. Be open. Solicit input. Listen and be a catalyst for conversation rather than the "answer man." Conversations transform, and it is critical that you create an ongoing conversation about purpose in your unit.

Humble: There is an old proverb that goes, "A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor." So it is with units. Does your unit have blind spots-areas of weakness not identified due to an overall lack of humility? Humble units-and humble leaders-are willing to take a hard look at themselves and call it as it is. They have the ability to see when they have a problem.

One way to "see" problems is to ask questions and to listen. One commander we know regularly pulls his junior leaders together and asks them, "What are we doing that might get in the way of us achieving our purpose?" In his words, "If you want to know the real deal, pull your SSGs together under a tree and ask them. But you better have thick skin, and you better be honest with them. Instead of taking it personally and getting defensive, I turn it around on them and let them come up with solutions. It is amazing, and they love it! It keeps me humble."

Adaptive: "Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances." -Sun Tzu

A less well-known Chinese military leader, Liu Ji (14th C.), put it this way: "The ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to opponents is called genius."

The New England Patriots in the World Cup Finals? Imagine Robert Kraft calling Bill Belichick to tell him that he had three months to get the Patriots ready to play-not in the Super Bowl-but in the World Cup finals.

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