Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Looking back at one mediocre assignment
I looked into AKO to review a document and decided to see where I was 5 years ago. I do this once in a while because I am still amazed at the rapid course of events that have occurred since my departure from the Army Reserves.
I opened and read an evaluation report from 5 years ago – 1993 when I was assigned as a new Battalion commander in the 98th Division. As it turns out it was the only bad report I ever received in my career. I got this OER from a Col Mike Smith (no relation) now BG Mike Smith after my Battalion was noted as the Best QM training Battalion in the Army. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Army system – one bad report effectively kill your chances for advancement, even in the Army Reserve.
Oddly enough my successive Battalion Command reports were very good from the same Colonel Smith, but they changed nothing. I illustrate this phenomenon because every Officer reached their high water mark in their careers just as I did 5 years ago. It may be objection to policies, procedures, or misguided priorities or other failing that marks the jump the shark moment for any officer. The strange thing that occurs just after that realization is the new empowerment to speak your mind and become much more forceful in shaping organizational success…after all you no longer has anything to fear.
Perhaps if senior leadership facing down the Secretary of Defense in 2003 had jumped the shark and had no hope of advancement they too would have been more proactive in engaging the plan that later faltered in execution. Often the most ineffective leaders are the folks worried about their careers and shaping every decision to preserve advancement momentum. Perhaps those leaders that speak their mind and commit career suicide deserve more of the spotlight for making the tough decision that is truly selfless. And to think I come up with this stuff from just looking at my one bad OER.