Time seems to be the one resource that we can’t get enough of, whether we are in the military, corporate world, or even simply as parents. This week LTC Glen Helberg, commander of 2-27 Infantry Battalion in Hawaii, provides perspective on how time was spent at the beginning of his command and how he would invest his time if given full control. We also cover some challenges and joys of command.
This is the second post in our Battalion Command series. Last week we covered 4 Things a Unit Needs from its Commander.
How did your first 30 days of command go? How would you recommend a new Battalion Commander spend their time in the first few weeks ?
The first 30 days was a whirlwind….I barely remember it. But I do know that I was out the door to the Big Island for an exercise two weeks into command. My biggest takeaway from that was to get as involved as you can as early as you can. I didn’t have much input on the exercise, and I wish I had. Generically speaking, though, I’d have spent the first 30 days doing more circulation and meeting folks.
The schedule has been a mess for the past 9 months, and it’s taken me way longer to meet a lot of my Soldiers than I would have liked. As for preparation, I’d have spent more time doing engagements with key folks around the post. More specifically: Range control, Garrison CDR, health care providers, IG, Div SJA, and ASAP. I intended to schedule those into the RIP, but they were stomped on and it’s been hard to recover. Also, rest before taking command, because there’s none once you get in the seat.
If you had full control of your calendar, without requirements from higher, what would you invest your BN’s time on? Where would you personally invest your time?
Nine months into command and I’m still executing someone else’s calendar….I’ve had very little control over it. Probably won’t for another couple months. But, if I had space, I’d spend more time on leader development.
Everything from LPDs, to TL Academy, to counseling, to PT. It seems like this is the hardest thing to squeeze in, because leaders are always the busiest folks. Getting all my rater and senior rater counseling in is difficult.
This is probably where I’d invest more of my personal time, as well. I see the impacts of our young leaders on everything we do, both for the good and the bad. I can’t overstate this enough.
What is your biggest challenge or frustration as a Battalion Commander?
Not owning our calendar is the biggest frustration. I’d feel better about things if the calendar was jam-packed with our battalion events. I find it very difficult to free up time to give to the Company Commanders, and I know that they feel the frustration, too.
Company Commanders continue to take on more and more requirements, without any commensurate staff or additional personnel. Which leads to another challenge for all commanders….I just don’t feel like I can put enough focus on everything that I want. The multi-tasking is challenging, and some things ultimately end up having to take a back seat.
So, I’ve learned I have to prioritize where I want to focus my attention, and then just assume risk on the other stuff. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that has to be done.
What organizational accomplishment are you most proud of in your Battalion?
Oddly, the thing I’m most proud of isn’t really anything you’d expect of an infantry battalion. The Wolfhounds have had a relationship with the Holy Family Home Orphanage in Osaka, Japan since 1949. It’s truly something special. Sure, we do a lot of great training, and our Soldiers do all sorts of fantastic things….the sorts of things you’d see in a lot of infantry units. But you won’t find another legacy like the Wolfhounds and the orphanage anywhere else. And that’s something we’re awful proud of. We invest a lot of time and energy in the relationship, to include a visit by 50 Soldiers to the orphanage during a recent exercise in Japan…and I wouldn’t trade a minute of that time or energy.
While time constantly escapes us, it is important to pause and think through how we use our time, think through how we want to spend our time, and come up with a way to do so. Many leaders state that they wished they invested more of their time into leader development. That recurring theme is a large reason Developing Your Team was started.
It is amazing to see that despite being challenged with time constraints, that the Wolfhounds intentionally uphold tradition and invest their time in serving others, to include a community outside of the military. Thanks to LTC Helberg for taking the time to answer our questions. He provided candid feedback to some difficult questions. It’s awesome to see a great leader leading a great battalion!
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