Honoring Leaders Who Made a Difference

Army, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Honoring Leaders Who Made a Difference


To: Company Commanders

From: Company Commanders

As we reflect on how we came to be the leaders we are today, we are reminded of our role in developing the leaders of tomorrow. In the June 2007 CompanyCommand article, we shared the story of Hank Arnold, Steve Delvaux and Steve's lieutenants as a great example of 'Third-Generation Leadership."

Leaders with a third-generation perspective develop their leaders with future generations in mind.

There are thousands of untold "Hank and Steve" stories in our profession. One CC forum member, Jay Miseli, inspired by the article, launched a discussion in the CC forum, telling his own story and asking his fellow professionals, "Who made you the leader you are today?" Listen in as CC members reflect upon this question.

Jay Miseli

C Co & HHC, 2-69 AR, 3 ID

I took my Headquarters Company on a Thursday morning, spent that first day responding to a congressional inquiry and spent Friday getting my arms around admin for this beast (375 Soldiers on the books). That Monday, my mortar platoon was supporting an IOBC (Infantry Officer Basic Course) indirect fire exercise, and I intended to visit them on the range but didn't make it out. That evening, when they returned to the company HQ, the platoon sergeant reported some disturbing news. (The platoon leader was TDY to the Mortar Leader Officer Course at the time.)

The new brigade combat team (BCT) commander, who had been in command about one month at this point, had dropped by the range and wasn't happy with what he saw. The IOBC cadre had directed the platoon to set up their mortars in an open field with no camouflage nets or any cover because the cadre wanted the second lieutenants to see the adjustments occurring. So, the platoon complied (outside of their SOP), and having registered their tubes, were in the middle of a lunch break in a nearby woodline when the BCT commander arrived. Not only was the platoon in, shall we say, a degraded uniform for lunch, but the firing positions were anything but tactical per the previous request. The BCT commander calmly explained to the platoon sergeant (PSG) that this was a wasted training opportunity and that in our BCT, we never waste an opportunity to prepare for war. They walked through the positions and made some refinements, and then he departed.

Soon after that report from the PSG, my battalion commander called and relayed (again in a calm manner) the same basic story. At this point, I felt like a dirtball, having not gone out there and not really knowing the appropriate standards for mortar firing positions in the first place; I felt certain that this had cemented a negative first impression with the BCT commander.

Four days later, our battalion was doing a run when the BCT commander saw us and decided to join us. He started running with the command group, and then started working his way down the line through the companies, talking for a while with each company commander. When he got to me, I thought, "Here it comes," expecting to get a well-deserved chewing out for Monday's range. Instead, he ran with me for more than 10 minutes, the entire time explaining that his singular focus as BCT commander was wartime readiness, and that if necessary, training and preparing for war would be at the expense of other areas (what he deemed housekeeping). In those 10 minutes, he gave me the clearest guidance I had received as far as priorities go, and for the remainder of my time in Headquarters and Headquarters Company (22 more months, including Operation Iraqi Freedom under his command), I knew, with firsthand knowledge, that my boss expected me to train and prepare for war above all else-and this gave me perfect clarity for focusing my efforts.

I will never forget the power of that experience. I fully expected to get chewed out and treated like an ineffective commanding officer from there onward. Instead, I got a powerful lesson in calm and positive leadership as well as perfectly clear guidance for my number one priority in command. …

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