READ this to Understand your DoD ENTITLEMENTS

Welcome to the fourteenth post in the ProDev2Go Major Series. This series focuses on the transition from Company Grade to Field Grade Officer. 

                So now you’re a Major.  The big O-4 !  Time to get ready for the perks to start flowing.    IBM and Apple wouldn’t ignore your contributions, and neither should the Government- Right?  After all,  DoD owes you for College and 10 years of service.  It is time to “Thank Us” for our service!  So here is the secret that nobody lets you know- You are entitled to nothing and your Subordinates are entitled to everythingThe minute you feel entitled, we offer two choices: 1) Change your attitude 2) Find another profession.  What?   That is harsh!     Not really, our nation deserves leaders that are more concerned about their subordinates and organizations than themselves.  If you feel entitled, which is common, reflect on the parents that allow our subordinates to serve.  Those families entrust us to care for their sons and daughters.  This is a no fail mission.  Would you want your son or daughter serving for an entitled leader?  No! Here at ProDev2Go, we believe that entitlement is counter to the good order of our organizations.  Focus on others more than yourself and you will become an effective Field Grade Officer! 

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Training the Replacements

Welcome to the thirteenth post in the ProDev2Go Major Series. This series focuses on the transition from Company Grade to Field Grade Officer. 

Just like when you were a company commander your subordinates are going to depart the organization right about the time things are running well.  Your job as a field grade officer is to bring the replacement NCOs and Officers on the team in a manner that enables the continued success of the organization.  These three techniques will help you manage the transition :

  • Remember that no seven year old ever said, “When I grow up, I want to be on staff”
  • You know 100x more about what is going on than your new team members- Don’t Assume Knowledge
  • Use the 3:1 rule

Serving on staff– Your new NCOs and Officers want to be on the line with Soldiers, not on staff.  Address this fact during initial counseling.  Tell them the length of time they will be on staff to manage their expectations.  Encourage them to remind you during quarterly counseling of their departure date and be willing to discuss their next job openly.          Don’t Assume Knowledge-  You must get confirmation and backbriefs from your team to avoid disaster.  You may not know it, but you are light years ahead of your new team members.  Your understanding of the hot issues, recent lessons learned, and the calendar can overwhelm them.  If you assume knowledge- A glass ball is going to hit the floor.  Be  a deliberate and patient leader to ensure success.  3:1 Ratio during transitions- Senior staff members do the workload of three leaders.  They start with a normal workload and over time their responsibilities increase.  This is possible because they are comfortable in their surroundings, understand systems, and are very efficient.  Your new staff members cannot handle the same work load on day one.  Use three team members to replace one.  Assign the new leader only the primary tasks conducted by the departing individual.  The remaining tasks should be spread out across two other teammates until the new leader is efficient and capable.  Then add tasks slowly until the transition is complete.  The 3:1 rule allows the organization to continue to move forward during transition while allowing your replacements to grow into the job.

If you follow these three tips you will lead your organization through transition successfully and develop your subordinate leaders.

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Angry Iron Majors (A.I.M.)

Welcome to the twelfth post in the ProDev2Go Major Series. This series focuses on the transition from Company Grade To Field Grade Officer. 

 

Fact–Many Majors become disgruntled, jaded, bitter, and angry.  These feelings generally stem from two seeds: perspective and workload.  Major’s perspective are generally based on a new and unfiltered view of Division, Brigade, and Battalion operations which reveals many imperfections.   Majors also are under a tremendous amount of stress from the enormity of their work load.  This new environment lends itself to a fact of life- negativity is contagious for those with weak minds.  You will find yourself in the middle of an AIM conversations as a Major.  Here is some simple advice-  Avoid It!  You really have three choices as a professional when frustrated:  1) Fix the issue that is frustrating you.  2) Recommend to your higher a way to correct the issue. 3) Vote with your feet.  If the issue is within your purview then get after it and fix the problem. If not, tell a trusted leader whom you respect about the issue so it can get resolved above your level.  Finally, if you cannot get past your frustration and the negativity go find a profession that makes you happy.  Life is too short and the Army needs positive leaders.  Bottom Line–Don’t become a member of the Angry Iron Major Club (A.I.M.) you have better choices.

 

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Cooperation Without Coordination

 ML_Banner_Inset4This guest post is by Drew Steadman who created  The Military Leader.  His site is designed to provide leaders of all professions with resources and insight they can use to develop themselves and their organizations.

 

Ever had an important life lesson strike you in the midst of a trivial activity? Well, it happened to me not long ago and the lesson, a stroke of organizational leadership insight, came from an unexpected source.

I was halfway through loading the dishwasher when my mother-in-law walked in with dirty dishes to add. Wanting to be helpful, she placed the dishes in the first set of slots she saw but they weren’t the slots that I, master of dishwasher operations, had in mind. I thanked her for helping and then moved the dishes to their rightful position.

That’s when the lesson happened. She walked back to the living room and said to my wife with a chuckle, “I tried to help Drew, but I put the dishes in the wrong place. I was cooperating without coordinating.” I was cooperating without coordinating. Wow. Pause for a moment, think about the effort your team puts forth every day, and apply that phrase.

How often do we suffer from inefficiency because we don’t align with the teams and people around us?

Our people try to do the right thing, they really do. They come up with good ideas and have the best intentions. They cooperate with the commander, the mission, the vision, and adjacent teams very well. But many units suffer because that effort isn’t coordinated to achieve maximum effects.

For example, company commanders each have an open door with the battalion commander to address issues. In doing so they cooperate to achieve the goal of taking care of Soldiers and making their units ready. But, if they coordinate what they plan to bring the boss, they would 1) discover problems common to all of them, 2) share solutions for those problems, 3) present a unified front to the commander, and 4) minimize the drain on the commander’s time and attention.

Or consider a tactical example. After several days in the field, it’s time for a Stryker company to validate its training in a synchronized operation. Its platoons are distributed across the training area and will rely on the digital connectivity of the Stryker vehicle for success. Unfortunately, the Battalion S6 chose the same day to conduct required maintenance on the battalion’s BFT/JCR, taking the battalion systems offline. Each entity is doing the right thing for their mission but failed to align their efforts with the whole team. Cooperation without coordination.

Leaders are responsible for synchronizing their teams while individuals are obliged to consider how their actions impact the teams around them.

Here are several questions to consider before pulling the trigger on your next action:

  • How big is my sphere of influence?
  • How will my planned actions affect those around me?
  • What entities rely on my capability to achieve their mission?
  • What entities rely on me staying out of their way to achieve their mission?
  • Am I drifting into an area where other people/unit’s authority is established and functioning? How must I adjust to that authority?
  • Am I so dedicated to my own good idea that I’m not considering how it impacts the bigger picture?

The answers may show that you’re about to put your dirty dishes in the wrong spot

 

Drew Steadman is the creator of The Military Leader, co-founder of the Military Writers Guild, and is grateful to his mother-in-law, Patricia, for her powerful lesson in leadership.

 

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Green Power on the modern day Battlefield

Welcome to the eleventh post in the ProDev2Go Major Series. This series focuses on the transition from Company Grade To Field Grade Officer. 

 

The majority of your peers will focus the 100% of their mission command training on our “competitive advantage”.  This is our newest technology, latest system upgrades, digital dominance, and GPS Powered gadgets.  What happens when the enemy removes this advantage or we lose capability due to our actions?  All of our WIN-T and ABCS systems are important to our Mission Command capabilities.  However, we have P.A.C.E. for a reason.  The smart money is on GREEN mission command training in addition to the digital master gunner emphasis. Train analog planning, common operating picture, and reporting to become proficient.

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It starts with your planning during MDMP.  Hard Copy maps and Acetate  allow you to stack overlays and truly synchronize War fighting Functions.  Once complete, then transfer your plan to the ABCS systems. Next develop a system that maintains your analog COP in real time.  This could be printing screen captures every 15 minutes or moving icons on the map.  Whatever you select there should be no more than a five minute delay when (Not If) you lose digital connectivity.  Lastly, enforce proper reporting at echelon.  The first words you should here across the radio or chat is front line trace and slant.  This builds muscle memory and enables analog fires and mission command.  Green Systems are not fancy, but they must be developed, rehearsed, and enable our force to continue the fight when we or our enemies remove our perceived “competitive advantage”.  If you can teach your Battalion and Brigade to fight analog you will become an effective field grade office.

 

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Want to Help Veterans?

     This guest post is by Roslyn Tate who is the editor for 2U.com.  They partner with leading colleges and universities to deliver online degree programs so students everywhere can reach their full potential.

Up to Twenty out of every 100 veterans who have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom, the global war on terrorism, have returned home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health condition triggered by violence or the threat of violence. PTSD symptoms include “re-experiencing” (flashbacks, nightmares, disturbing thoughts), avoidance (isolation, apathy, guilt, memory loss) and hyper arousal (anxiety, insomnia). If left untreated, PTSD may also increase the likelihood of heart attack and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the United States.

While the symptoms of PTSD can be lessened with medication, particularly antidepressants, counseling has been found to be the most effective form of treatment. There are many types of counseling which can aid those suffering from PTSD, including:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy: discussing the source of trauma in an attempt to change how the sufferer understands it;
  • Exposure Therapy: confronting trauma in an attempt to lessen its impact;
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: discussing the source of trauma while receiving other sensory input (such as side to side eye movements) in an attempt to develop coping mechanisms;
  • Group Therapy: discussing the source of trauma amongst others who have had similar experiences;
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: discussing past memories in an attempt to reconcile unconscious tensions;
  • Family Therapy: discussing the source of trauma and its effects with family members.

These kinds of counseling, particularly cognitive processing and exposure therapies, have been shown to reduce PTSD symptoms in nearly 70 percent of patients. Beyond PTSD, counseling may also help veterans cope with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and addictions, as well as being part of an effective course of treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions. As alluded to above, family therapy can also help redouble the fraying ties between veterans and family members, as well as educating the later about the trials of the former.

Despite the various benefits of counseling, many veterans face difficulties in receiving treatment. This is due in part to the Department of Veterans Affairs employing only 21,000 behavioral care staff to serve 22.3 million veterans. Although the VA has recently ramped up its efforts to recruit such staff, vacancy rates remain at 20 percent, leading to wait times of up to 37 days before veterans can receive necessary psychiatric care. In the worst case scenarios, this delayed access to mental health care may be a factor in veteran suicide rates, which are twice as high as those for civilians, and translate to 22 former service members taking their own lives each day.

Counselors belong to one of the few professions that can treat soldiers suffering from PTSD. Using many of the counseling techniques mentioned above, counselors help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for counselors is on track to grow by 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, fueled in no small part by the needs of veterans.

Entry-level counseling positions require a master’s degree in counseling or a related subject, such as psychology, social work and therapy. Obtaining a Master of Arts in Counseling is the most specialized option and includes extensive coursework on clinical practice, human growth and development, and psychopathology, along with hands-on clinical training. Some Master of Arts in Counseling programs may even offer concentrations in Clinical Mental Health, which includes instruction in diagnosing and treating mental, behavioral and emotional disorders using strategies like cognitive processing therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

While many of us may assume that a service member’s battle ends once he or she returns home, the reality is that the fight against PTSD cannot be won until treatment begins. The current shortage of qualified mental health professionals is leaving our veterans without the counseling they need. For those that gave so much, this is an appalling welcome home – but you can change that by becoming a counselor today.

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You are a Toxic Micromanager

Welcome to the tenth post in the ProDev2Go Major Series. This series focuses on the transition from Company Grade To Field Grade Officer. 

Okay, chances are that you are neither truly  toxic nor a micromanager, but based on your actions you may be perceived as such.  During the last step in the Troop Leading Procedures, Supervise and Refine, is when subordinates can form an opinion that their leader is a micromanager.  Trust but Verify

Generally, Leaders stumble in this area because of their supervision techniques.  Try these three techniques to help you, as a Field Grade Officer, avoid being a micromanager: Formulate a detailed plan early- This allows your subordinates to understand, resource, and plan the task at their level well in advance of execution.  This is what good Majors do for our Divisional units.   Establish a disciplined reporting culture- This is just like the priorities of work tracking chart in the Command Post, but you need it for every operation.  This gives your subordinates autonomy and allows you to ensure the mission gets accomplished.  You are still required to inspect, spot check, and refine, however, a disciplined reporting culture makes these checks better focused and frankly less disruptive. Accept risk at your level- Many young leaders pass down all of the risk to the Company level.  As a Field Grade, you must help the commander manage risk to protect the companies.  Identifying where the unit can accept prudent risk prevents leaders from focusing on tasks that are not mission essential.  If you formulate a detailed plan, create a culture of disciplined reporting, and manage risk properly- you will be a more effective Field Grade Officer.

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A Guide to Hurting Soldiers

 Welcome to the ninth post in the ProDev2Go Major Series.  This series focuses on the transition from Company Grade To Field Grade Officer. 

Hey Major, If you want to hurt Soldiers – Plan Poorly

      Late information crushes Soldiers, Leaders, and organizations.  As a Major you are responsible for the dissemination of timely and accurate information.  Why is this so hard?  How do we fix this common problem?  Use these simple time lines and the attached Plan to Plan and you will no longer hurt our most precious asset- Soldiers.  Many preach 1/3 : 2/3 but that is really for short notice planning efforts.  At ProDev2Go we suggest using the 9:6:4:13  rule within a Division.  Division must publish it’s orders nine (9) months prior to execution, Brigade six, Battalion four, and the Company at 13 Weeks.  This allows each level to properly resource training and follow the eight step training model.  Make no mistake this is difficult and if every level isn’t on board the Company and our troopers suffer greatly.   Some are hesitant to publish without complete information along these timeliness.  The unit below you would rather have what you know now than wait for perfect information late.  Stick to this timeline and FRAGO the plan as additional clarity is gained.  To assist you in this effort use the Plan to Plan found Below.  Take a Draconian approach to adhere to these planning windows and you will not only become more effective, but will take care of our Soldiers.

 

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plan to plan

 

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Toxic Majors

Take a moment and think back to the first Majors you encountered as a Lieutenant.  I’m sure they could be described as warm, nice, never in a rush, and possessing infinite patience  But not likely.

Welcome to the eighth post in the ProDev2Go Major Series.  This series focuses on the transition from Company Grade To Field Grade Officer. 

You’re a mean one… Major Grinch!  

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Don’t be that Major !  There are several reasons new Majors get frustrated and can become  toxic.  These can include a lack of time management, poor work quality from subordinates, and a constant barrage from the staff and Company Commanders.   You can use these three techniques to avoid being that Toxic Major:  Give Clear Guidance up Front, Don’t wait for a perfect product from higher, and Make time for subordinates.  Giving Clear guidance —Take the time to give precise guidance and require a back brief.  Your leaders want to do a good job, but oftentimes we get a substandard product due to guidance that lacks clarity.  Before you get frustrated when you get a bad product ask yourself, “What guidance did I give?”.  It’s possible you are the problem and not your subordinate.    Do Not Wait — You know you are going to NTC 12 months from now.  You do not need a Brigade Order to get your Battalion moving in the right direction.  Push your order out with what you know must happen and FRAGO it once higher publishes the plan (More on this in our next Post). Make Time for People —  You must spend time with your subordinates.  Your staff and the Company Commanders need your experience and mentorship.  However, you can’t spend all day with them and get your work done too.  You must be disciplined in the scheduling of your time.  Your time is incredibly valuable to the organization and it’s your responsibility to maximize the day.  One S3 noticed the S2 was not tactically strong and spent 30 mins daily before PT mentoring the S2.  Another MAJ scheduled working lunches with Company Commanders.  The most effective MAJs make a tremendous effort to spend time with all of their subordinates even those they don’t exactly click with.  You need everyone to carry huge tasks for the unit.  Majors that disregard a group of leaders force an additional burden on the rest of the team.

If you can Give Clear Guidance, publish timely products, and make time for your subordinates you will be an effective Field Grade Officer.

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Major Lessons in Change

Welcome to the seventh post in the ProDev2Go Major Series.  This series focuses on the transition from Company Grade To Field Grade Officer. 

Today we have ProDev2Go’s first Guest Post from none other than Major Casey Dean.  Casey is an Army officer with a curiosity for leader development and the potential of connections.   He’s currently in the middle of his second tour as an AfPak hand.

Enjoy learning how and when to change styles.

We’ve all heard about Iron Majors, the field grade officers that pride themselves on hard work and mission accomplishment. While NCOs are the backbone of the Army, Iron Majors can be described as the cogs that drive the larger wheels. At the division-level and below this means close coordination across the formation and always thinking about what’s over the next hill. It also can mean fighting for resources for your organization, so your Troopers have the resources they need. Assertiveness and a capacity to put out the day’s fires are great assets to the Iron Major, but are those same skills needed after your KD assignment?

Should Iron Majors go into broadening assignments with the same frame of mind? Do the same skills and abilities that made you successful in passing the litmus test for future battalion command make you successful in jobs at echelons above brigade? Many of the same skills apply when you’re outside of your KD billet. However, your perspective must be appropriate with the job. It can be difficult to shift from thinking at the tactical level for so many years and then transitioning to operational and strategic-level thinking. This includes shifting your mindset from 0-45 days out, or occasionally working on the long-range training calendar (knowing it will all likely fall apart) to the development of long-term engagements and programs that could take years before they see the light of day. Looking five years ahead to determine outcomes and objectives can be very similar to planning a gunnery, if you just tweak your horizon a bit.

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During a broadening assignment, teamwork is paramount. A little less Han and a little more Luke will go a long way when working in a joint, interagency, intergovernmental, or multi-national (JIIM) environment. Some assignments include engagements with other militaries where our words and actions don’t just represent a battalion, branch, or Service, but potentially the entire US Government. Many of our JIIM partners don’t speak the same language or take kindly to the same gruff approach that makes many field grade officers successful at the brigade level.  This broad spectrum increases the cultural gap between you and your teammates. Cultivating your sense of empathy, or an understanding of another person’s feelings, is valuable skill. Simon Sinek writes in “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t” that empathy “is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolbox”. An understanding of your partner nation or JIIM partners will go a long way in bridging these divides.

The third ability that assists you was previously discussed in the ProDev2Go Major Series. Learning how to control emotions, especially when dealing with bad news, will help tremendously in future assignments. The TTPs COL Coffman wrote about when dealing with bad news from subordinates, peers, and bosses are a great asset. Keeping your cards closer to your chest and a calm head will lead to clear thinking and problem-solving solutions instead of emotional outbursts.

As you prepare for life after KD (it will happen) take some time to sit, think, and write on how you’ll need to shift your approach in your future assignment. Shifting your viewpoint both below and over the horizon, using empathy to help build bridges in new work environments, and keeping your emotions in check when bad news arrives will go a long way to helping you in your broadening assignment. Remember, the skills and abilities that got you here aren’t the same ones that will make you successful moving forward.

      Remember to click the Blue Box to Follow ProDev2Go and receive these posts directly in your email.  If interested in doing a guest post of your own contact us at prodev2go@gmail.com.