For most officers, company command ranks in the top ten of their professional highlights reel. It’s a rewarding, yet humbling position for those who experience it. Over the course of 12 to 36 months, command provides captains with the authorities and responsibilities to lead, train, and prepare individuals for combat (and in some cases, lead them through it).
So is there a way to prepare for this experience through reading so that captains get the most out if it and lead with the best version of themselves? Yes. I recently hosted a conversation on our Facebook page and got a tremendous amount of responses.
As I read the responses, the same books appeared in multiple comments. This speaks to the importance of these works. Taking those into account, I recommend three books for all leaders preparing for company command. The first two are actual books, and the third consists of doctrine and regulations that leaders need to understand before taking command.
Taking the Guidon: Exceptional Leadership at the Company Level by Tony Burgess and Nate Allen
The leadership lessons that Burgess and Allen share from their time in company command mixed with their knowledge of organizational leadership theories, makes this book ideal for those wanting to come into command and make a positive impact on those they lead. They cover everything from PT and training to awards and new soldier integration. A future company commander should read this months before taking command and then take the time to think through how they want to lead their organizations.
Company command is the first time officers start writing their own commander’s intent to communicate the “why” of the mission to their leaders and Soldiers. This book brings home the importance of making sure the team understands and shares a common purpose. Commanders will learn that if their organizations understand the purpose of their mission their unit will be able to adapt much quicker when conditions change than if they only understand the “what” and the “how”.
The Important Regulations and Doctrine
I know many expected to see another great leadership book on the list, but if company commanders don’t understand their authorities and responsibilities, they will be unable to lead the way want to. They will constantly encounter challenges in personnel issues, property accountability, or training management that require the bulk of their attention. If you’re not an Army Officer, find out what key regulations are applicable in your Service or organization.
Lead with the best version of yourself
If captains walk into command having read these books, they will be in a much better position to focus on leading their organizations instead of treading water. Our Soldiers deserve officers who lead with the best version of themselves, and one way to do this is to prepare ahead of time through reading and reflection.
Best of luck on company command and check out the thread here for more great books on company leadership!