Instructor Notes Lesson Script

a. Lesson Tie-in: As you know, there are certain things a leader must Be, KNOW, and DO. We will now apply all three facets as we discuss taking charge of a MI Company.

b. Purpose: Taking charge is the most important task faced when reaching a new assignment. There are certain techniques and steps that will greatly assist this process. First impressions are lasting and the use of such techniques will aid in making that first impression a better one. Above all, any actions taken must be planned to make that favorable, professional first impression.

c. Scope: As a result of this block of instruction, you will be able to explain how to determine leadership standards, to develop a plan for assuming a Command position, and to conduct an assessment of a unit using the parts and processes model.

d. Safety Considerations: None

e. Procedure: This class will be a two hour conference in conjunction with one hour of seminar with previous company commanders. During this class, I will periodically be asking you questions to ensure your comprehension.


a. Taking Charge

(1) The single event of most concern to leaders and followers alike is the process of changing leaders. The outgoing leader worries about things that he or she may have forgotten to do that will cause the unit to fall apart; the new leader worries about measuring up to the responsibilities of leadership; the soldiers worry about the changes to procedures and policies to which they've become accustomed.

(2) Taking charge is the most important task you'll face. There are certain techniques and steps that will help you. As I've said before, first impressions are lasting and these procedures will help you get off on the right foot.

(3) The steps to taking charge of a unit are the same for all units or staffs regardless of size or type organization.

Show VG 1 "Four Steps
of Taking Charge",
(4) The four steps of the process of taking charge are:

Study the Situation
Meet your Subordinates
Make an Assessment
Plan and Implement Appropriate Actions

These four steps usually occur in the order
listed. You must understand, however, that
you will almost always be doing two or more
steps at the same time. The important thing to remember is that new plans, procedures, and policies that you implement should be based on the best information you have available, not on a whim of the new leader in charge.

b. Step One: Study the Situation

(1) Situation and standards. It starts with a study of the situation. You've all done this to some degree regarding your next duty assignment. You have talked to people, perhaps made a few phone calls, or maybe written a letter. Some of you may have visited the unit and met some of the personnel. This is a continuous process that starts when you find out that you will be taking charge of a unit or staff section. It does not end until you are formally relieved by your replacement.

(a) You must become thoroughly familiar with the mission, situation, organization, policies, procedures, and standards of your own unit and of higher headquarters. This must be accomplished as soon as possible because you must know the standards as you assess your unit and deal with your subordinates.

(b) The policies you need to know are generally written documents. They may take the form of DA publications or local letters. They pertain to specific units, and local policies may differ from unit to unit.

(c) Procedures may or may not be written. Each unit should have a written Standing Operating Procedure (SOP), updated by the current commander.

NOTE: Cite some examples of why this does or does
not happen, and then the problems that can occur
when SOPs are not kept current. Note that many
units must have current SOPs (i.e., DMZ units in
Korea, RDF units in CONUS, and tactical units in
(d) It is also important to note that
procedures may or may not be written down,
but they have been established within the
unit as a matter of custom or habit or upon
verbal instruction from the commander.

(e) From studying the policies and procedures that apply, and knowing the standard of the unit, you can begin to formulate your plan for checking and establishing, if needed, your standards within your platoon.

NOTE: Standards are also taught in training
management--take this opportunity to reinforce
that training. Discuss some of the recognized
Army standards, examples such as the SDT
standard (70 percent to verify), the DA PT standard
(180 points, 60 per event), and the current weight
standards. Discuss how these standards can be
modified by a local command and that caution must
be exercised to ensure that command authorized
modifications do not become unrealistic.
(An example of a locally modified standard is
when the commander decides his unit will run two
miles in 16 minutes and people who fall out will
do extra PT. This exceeds the minimum DA
standard for all personnel but is not necessarily
unrealistic for certain types of units.) The type
of work the unit does may cause modification of a
standard. All members of the unit must know the
standard. If the knowledge does not get out then you
can expect to find two things--the performance
will not be to standard and you've identified
some communication problems in your command.

(f) There are many sources of information that will tell you what the standards are and how well your unit is meeting them. These include: USR, ARTEP, NCO records, personnel files, MTOE/TDA...

(g) These represent some of the records and reports that should be available to you in the unit. It will be difficult for you to get this kind of data while you are here, in school, for obvious reasons. It's difficult to advertise your weaknesses. Even when you get to the unit, some of this information may be difficult to get, particularly that information which is personal and adverse (i.e., arrests, AWOLs, etc.). Some data may be consolidated at a higher level (i.e., readiness reports) and not kept in company files.

(h) Again, records and reports (i.e.,ARTEP, SDT, and inspections) are available but if they are not there, there are other sources as well: people, in and out of the unit, and your own eyes are ears as you report in and get briefed, articles in Army Times, Soldier's Magazine, or welcome packets from ACS.

(2) Ideally you should have an opportunity to observe the unit in action before you take charge. This would allow you to see how the current leader and his unit get things done. If afforded the opportunity to observe the unit in action, do so as it will be the best time for you to look critically at the unit without being held accountable for it.

(3) Frequently you will not have the opportunity to observe before taking charge. You must then split your attention by observing and evaluating current events while planning for future events. This by far is the most common scenario.

(4) As the new leader, you will gather information about your unit from many sources. Some of the more common sources are:

(a) Records and Reports -such as CI and ARTEP results, individual training records such as SDT, CTT, APFT, etc., AWOL as well as REUP statistics, blotter reports, ART 15 records, etc...

(b) Observations of people outside the unit -such as higher level commanders, staff officers and senior NCOs, special staffs such as the SJA, IG, EO officer, the unit chaplain, etc...

(c) Observations of people in the unit-such as the outgoing leader, the junior leaders as well as the senior NCO in the unit, and the soldiers themselves.

(d) Personal observations -perhaps the best source of information about the unit is by just getting out where the unit lives and works and see for yourself.

(5) Your commander or immediate supervisor should provide you with a detailed briefing on what to expect and what is expected of you. Time rarely permits as detailed a briefing as you would like. You should be prepared to ask questions when there is an obvious gap in the information needed for you to do your job. At the conclusion of your initial briefing, you should know what your priorities are for the next 30 to 60 days, what you can do to get ahead, and what you must do to stay out of trouble.

(6) It is not a very complicated process--much of it is common sense--but it does provide a framework you can use in this exercise and in your unit.

c. Step Two: Meet Your Subordinates

(1) The next step in the taking charge process is that of meeting with subordinates.
(a) You may wish to talk to your first sergeant first, then to your platoon sergeants & squad leaders or all NCOs next. Talking to the leaders first reinforces your chain of command, helps you establish a critical bond of trust and confidence with your key personnel, and allows your NCOs the chance to provide you guidance on local standards. By doing this you can make a better initial impression when you talk to the platoon as a whole.

NOTE: Have the students look at the information
in their handout. Discuss standards and the list of
Critical Issues. Clarify or discuss one or two of
them in terms of their importance.

(b) Next is your first meeting with your Company. Introduce yourself clearly, but briefly (your name, perhaps your home state or source of commission, anything you'd like them to know about you up front; avoid telling them about airborne or ranger school. They can see the patches on your uniform. State the standards of importance you will require in matters which you consider of immediate importance (e.g., integrity or willingness on your part to assist in their problems if needed). Demonstrate a sincere interest in them and that you are approachable, that you recognize their importance, need their help, welcome their efforts to keep you informed, and that you will keep them informed as well. Explain that you will make no major changes until you're sure they are necessary (i.e., procedures, personnel) but do not hesitate to assert yourself if you see something that requires discipline, or hostility).

d. Step Three: Make An Assessment:

(1) You are now in the assessment phase of the taking charge process. The only absolute method of determining the combat effectiveness of a unit is to place it in combat. Obviously, there are some problems with that approach. There must be a way to determine probable combat effectiveness before battle, to ensure that the unit is as well prepared as possible. What are some other reasons you can think of that would make an assessment valuable?

(2) Determining the type of leadership in the unit is a critical part of assessing the unit. Indicators will be used as a start, but remember, observed information and situations are only an indicator. Other information must also be used.

(3) Indicators of leadership. Traditionally, four indicators of leadership have been used to measure leaders in a unit.

(a) MORALE refers to the individual's state of mind. How he feels toward his unit, his leaders, his confidence in his own ability, in his peers, his belief in the unit mission--all this makes up morale. In determining the state of morale within a unit, the leader should look at the soldiers' appearance, military courtesy, conduct, relations with one another, condition of quarters, use of unit facilities, and their manner (attitude) of performance during training. Some administrative reports that could be used for determining morale are pay complaints, AWOLs, sick call rates, requests for transfer, individual reenlistments, and disciplinary action summaries and reports.

(b) ESPRIT DE CORPS refers to the spirit of the unit or group as opposed to the individual. It is exhibited through teamwork, loyalty to and confidence in the unit, signs and slogans denoting pride, participation in unit programs, and a healthy competitive spirit.

(c) DISCIPLINE is the promptness by which soldiers follow orders and, more importantly, their initiation of appropriate actions in the absence of orders. It is responsible and ethical conduct both on and off duty. Proper senior-subordinate relationships are maintained, and the chain of command works.

(d) PROFICIENCY is the technical, tactical, and physical ability of the individual, and the ability of the unit to perform the mission. This is more easily expressed as ARTEP or SDT results. Do the soldiers have the necessary skills to do the job? Maintenance records and readiness reports reflect on proficiency. Leader skills such as supervising, decision making, counseling, and coordinating are traditional indicators of proficiency. Can you collect, process, and disseminate?

(e) The four indicators are not separate entities but are very much interrelated. A deficiency in one area (e.g., poor rifle marksmanship scores--proficiency) might also affect other indicators (e.g.,morale-individual feels bad about not shooting well). It is important that the proper indicator be identified as the root cause in order to help direct your olution (e.g., low morale is caused by poor proficiency). Counseling for morale won't help as much as marksmanship training, but as proficiency increases, the individual feels better! The root of the problem was training, not attitude.

(f) These traditional indicators obviously don't give a total picture. They do, however, provide a basic reference for analyzing data. To let you practice this leadership assessment step using the traditional method, you will now do a practical exercise. You've been provided an in-brief
from your battalion and company commanders.

(3) Emphasize that this is the first meeting with the 1SG. Don't focus on the condition of the barracks rooms. Remember from your Problem Solving class, you must identify the problem. You, at this point, are not sure why the barracks is in the condition it is in, so this should not be the only, or even the most important thing to discuss during this initial meeting.

(4) The traditional approach to assessment is effective for a quick look at what is right or wrong with the "people" part of a unit. It does not, however, tell you why things are the way they are, nor does it tell you much about the other more intricate aspects of the unit. Because you need a more detailed picture of the unit before making changes, we use a "systems" approach to assessing the entire unit. The model used is called the "Parts and Processes" model. This model allows us to look at the integrated parts of the unit and the common organizational processes, such as communication flow, which exist in and affect every unit or organization in some way.

(5) Obviously, to be able to evaluate the unit's strengths and weaknesses you will have to know more about the unit. You would use this model after having been in the unit for awhile. You would need to know the decision making process in the unit to assess the effectiveness of the process, and how the process works. As in any assessment, this is a continuous process.

e. Step Four: Plan and Implement Appropriate Action

(1) The final step in the taking charge process is to take corrective action. This is the follow-up portion of the assessment process. No matter how precise your assessment or how good your plan, you must take necessary corrective action when things go wrong or your unit will never be a functioning team under your control. Corrective action must be planned just as carefully as your original action. It must be directed toward a specific weakness identified in your evaluation and follow-up. The courses of action may vary but should remain consistent with the overall standards and objectives of your unit. The action should be appropriate for the problem, allow you to establish or reinforce your own standards, and should correct more than one weakness whenever possible. Finally, it should contribute to building teams and teamwork within your unit.

Student check:
What are the four
steps of taking
Answer: see review
a. Review of main points: These are the four steps in the process of taking charge: meeting with your subordinate leaders, studying the situation, assessing the unit, and taking corrective action. Your actions and orders must have a purpose. Your knowledge and assessment of the unit gives reason for your actions and orders. The act of taking charge will be closely watched by your subordinates and this will be their means of assessing you. Their evaluation of your effectiveness as a leader will help or haunt you for a long time.

b. Are there any questions or comments?

c. Lesson tie-in: The traditional indicators of leadership gave a snap shot of the unit. Assessing the unit using the Parts and Process Model gave you a little more in depth look at the unit. We will now have these previous commanders (introduce them...) tell you a little about their command and their biggest lesson learned as a commander. Then you will have the opportunity to ask questions.