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The Ideal Company Commander – First Sergeant (1SG) Relationship

The Mentor - A Comprehensive Guide to Army Counseling and Leadership

A productive company commander-1SG relationship is your goal because such a relationship begets a successful unit. Mutual respect is essential. Think about the following areas in building an excellent relationship:


Communication must be open, direct, and two-way. The commander and the 1SG must continually tell each other what they are doing. When they speak, they must speak with one voice. Tell your 1SG that he or she will always be able to speak freely and openly. Military courtesy prevails, but remember—once you close the door to your office, expect candid discussions. Tell the 1SG that, although you probably won’t accept all of their recommendations, you will always seek and respect open and direct advice.
Have a short session with your 1SG at least once a day—in the morning or in the evening. Make these sessions a permanent part of your daily calendar.


In a stable company commander-1SG relationship, each has total trust in the other’s ability. Mutual support is essential: Your 1SG must be certain of your support. A 1SG who is not certain of the company commander’s support, is an indecisive leader. You achieve solid support only if that confidence has mutual trust and two-way loyalty. Of course, the company commander can never back bad decisions. Blind loyalty is poor leadership. If your 1SG is wrong, say so and expect similar frankness in return. Once you establish mutual support, trust, and loyalty, then confidence in each other will follow.


Cooperation solidifies a good relationship. Neither of you should put the other in a win-lose situation: “I’m right or else.” Each must admit mistakes and know when to give in. Commanding a company requires the teamwork of two knowledgeable and professional leaders. They are a team: Together we stand; divided we fall.


Immediate agreement on goals for the company is essential. Most Soldiers will meet your expectations if they clearly understand them. Speak with one voice as you apply those standards: Firm but fair standards are best. Demanding impossible standards can only lead to failure. If you are uncertain at first, be tough. It is easier to relax high standards than to be too lax. Commanders who start tough and then ease up a bit, gain respect: those who start soft at first and then get tough when trouble comes, garner resentment and are seen by their troops as weak and self-centered.

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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