A few months ago I was looking into effective ways to manage a relatively large number of people (300-400). In my investigation I stumbled upon the Battalion Commanders Hand Book. Written in 1996 by several senior battalion commanders at the U.S. Army War College as an aid and guide for new designated battalion commanders.

While some of the material is very domain specific e.g. few of us will be required to command and deploy a peacekeeping task force there were some gems...

  • No one can take your integrity--you have to give it away.
  • Soldiers want to know how much you care before they care how much you know.
  • What you do is more important than anything you say.
  • Never give anyone reason to question your integrity.
  • Accept responsibility for the shortcomings of the unit; pass credit for success on to your subordinates.
  • Never allow yourself to be perceived as self-serving. If subordinates believe you're trying to get ahead at their expense, all you'll get is minimum effort and little initiative. Be selfless, always.
  • Be compassionate.
  • Never violate or be perceived to violate your own rules or policies.
  • Be willing to admit when you are wrong.
  • Reward soldiers and publicly recognize those that make the tough decisions--those who choose the harder right over the easier wrong.
  • Use the chain of command to pass on new information and policies. Avoid making too many "public announcements."
  • Let your leaders know that mistakes are OK as long as we learn from them. Explain to them the difference between mistakes and mission failure, versus doing something illegal or immoral.
  • Allow subordinates to "change your mind" now and then.
  • Identify your lane and stay in it.
  • Share hardships; be visible. Do what your soldiers do, eat what they eat, sleep where they sleep. Ensure your subordinate leaders do the same. There is no substitute for personal example.
  • Give young officers and NCOs a chance to grow. Spend time with them, listen to them and let them talk to you one-on-one.
  • Mentorship takes time. Ensure you take the time with your lieutenants and captains.