So I’ve left command in the rear view mirror. I’m signed out of Fort Hood and on to a future that no longer involves direct leadership at the tactical level. There will probably be a series of posts on my life in command, now that I’m free to talk about different things.
Every officer has heard of the Chief of Staff of the Army reading list or some other professional reading list where big daddy GOs sit young officers down and say read this. This book has something to teach you. Which is awesome because well, I’m a book worm and I enjoy this kind of thing.
So what are my books that I’d recommend for an incoming company commander? Well, here’s the thing. Company command is unlike any other job in the world. There is no other position where you’ll be responsible for a soldier’s training, his wife and kids, the condition of his house, why that female is pregnant or what you’re doing to reduce STDs in your formation. I’m joking but only half.
What books mattered to me as a company commander? Well, let’s start with JUSTICE by Michael Sandel. The byline on the book is What’s the right thing to do? Every commander needs to sit back and consider what is right and wrong. What kind of commander are they going to be? What are those things that are important to them? Because you will be challenged as a commander, more than you know.
The Long Road Home by Martha Raddatz. For my fellow signaleers, it’s a hard look at what goeswrong when the coms plan fail but it’s also a look at what happens when things go really badly during war, a lesson that our future commanders must not forget. Commanders need to take a good hard look at those worst case scenarios because you don’t plan for the best and hope the worst never happens. You plan for the worst and hope for the best.
The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan & Barbar Pease. Because everything you do as a commander is about people and being able to read them a little better makes your life as a decision maker a little easier.
Lastly, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C Maxwell. Love it or hate it, it’s a hard look at how to get people on board with your message and get the entire organization going in the direction you want to take it.
Command is by far the best job I’ve had in the Army. Maybe this will help someone else out along the way.