On giving the right impression

When I was selected for promotion to 1stSgt my own Company 1stSgt gave me some advice: “When you check in to your first company, you’ve got to come in wrong and strong.” What he meant was it is easier to start off being tough on everyone and ease up later than it was to come in easy then suddenly try to get tough. 

I was fortunate to have about two weeks of turnover with the 1stSgt I replaced in Kilo Company 3/3. He taught me quite a bit and was the kind of Marine who left big shoes to fill. When he left though I immediately called all the platoon sergeants into my office. Then I put them all on blast, utterly flaming them with the first official window shattering ass chewing from the new 1stSgt. Had they done anything wrong? No. I just made something up and crushed them over it. It was all about establishing our working relationship. Wrong and strong.

Then I told all the platoon commanders they had to move their wall lockers from their offices upstairs to the platoon sergeant area downstairs. The platoon sergeants were then to move their desks upstairs to the platoon commander offices. I had noticed there seemed to be a communication problem between some of them and I had the cure. This upheaval was unpopular but forced my platoon commanders and platoon sergeants to sit across from each other and talk. Imagine that! It probably also gave them someone to hate besides each other. Later, some of them begrudgingly admitted the move actually made things smoother within their platoons. Go figure.

I have mentioned before I have enjoyed an interesting reputation among the troops. One of my former company clerks said meeting me for the first time was just like this:

Of course, though I have been known to smoke the occasional cigar, I would never be caught smoking one of those long goofy filtered cigarettes.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

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  1. I’ve been in units where new leadership came in low and slow, and units where new leadership came in high and tight.

    The high and tight method *always* worked best. Better morale. Better discipline. Better unit cohesion. In every metric applicable, the high and tight entry measured as best.

    The low and slow were always taken advantage of (not by myself, you know. I’ve always been a good boy. Really! Honest! Quit looking at me like that!!) until they had to turn high and tight. Then they were just jokes and not taken seriously.

    – Grimmy

  2. 1. Have seen a couple charismatic types who could motivate and inspire troops to behave better than their natures.
    2. Was not one such.
    3. With my lead NCO/SNCO tended to play bad cop/worse cop.
    4. Back in the day were blessed with large numbers of serious bad actors -people who’d run over you if you didn’t come in flame on. Occasionally, literally.
    5. Young men, be they six or eligible for military service, tune out anything but signs of strength.
    6. The education establishment tries to reason with young men -then drugs them into compliance.
    7. My young son’s teachers have twice, over the years, told me that he was the only boy in his class who obeyed them.
    8. Asked me what I was doing at home.
    9. An honest answer could have resulted in child protective custody for the lad and adult detention facility for myself.
    10. My answer: “Just lucky, I guess.”
    11. In any case, where I was, if you failed as a leader, you were relieved -and pretty quickly at that.
    12. Would imagine that hasn’t changed. Pretty much know it hasn’t.
    V/R JWest

  3. I think you would like a brilliant movie from 1949 called “Twelve O’Clock High,” starring Gregory Peck. Here’s the short summary from IMBD: “A hard-as-nails general takes over a bomber pilot unit [during WWII] suffering from low morale and whips them into fighting shape.” It espouses a tough, committed form of leadership that demands that men on the front line give their best.

  4. Grimmy, you just can’t be a leader and a buddy at the same time.

    JWest, seems to me as spankings declined school shootings increased. Of course, I’m no scientist.

    Shay, 1stSgts vary, as do their reputations.

    Book, an air winger movie? Hmmm, not likely to draw my interest.

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