Empowering the Sergeants

I am very proud of what the Officers were able to accomplish this year.

I understand that officership can be hard and confusing at times, but all of the Officers served honorably and I am grateful for their service. But that leads me to ask, what could I do better to help the Officers?

I focused a lot on the Lieutenants this past season. They proved themselves capable of playing a larger role in the group and therefore I delegated much to them. This, unfortunately, took my attention away from the Sergeants. That is something I do regret, but hope I can remedy in the season to come.

In this journal entry, I wanted to jot down some of my seedling ideas and thoughts on how to empower the Sergeants. I recognized that many of these initial ideas might suck, but with time and revisiting could turn into worthwhile plans. If you feel strongly about any of these ideas, please let me know.

Thought 1: # of Sergeants

Typically, we have always tried to maintain the ratio of 2-1 when it comes to Sergeants and Lieutenant. What that means is that for every Lieutenant there would be two Sergeants. This allows each Lieutenant a pair of Sergeants to help them accomplish any task or objective placed before them and to have back up when needed.

My first thought is what if we tried a 1-1 ratio? Instead of two Sergeants, just have one?

This would allow a more focused role for the Sergeants and would hopefully encourage a close working relationship between the two Officers.

Thought 2: Assigned Roles

The Lieutenants came up with a very interesting system last year to help organize themselves. Each Lieutenant was assigned to a particular aspect of group administration. One was over Training. One was over Gear. One was over Finances. They also claimed two Sergeants to work with them in that particular aspect.

My second thought is what if each of the Sergeants had an assigned role instead?

This could allow our Exchequer and Quartermaster, for example, to be recognized as Sergeants, but they fill the Exchequer and Quartermaster role.

We would need to establish fundamental roles that could be filled within the group and determine the particular responsibilities of each role, but it would hopefully give focus to our Sergeants the minute the take their oath.

Thought 3: One Non-Swordsman Sergeant

According to our Rose Code, every Officer must have achieved the rank of Swordsman before earning Officership. This allows students in the program to focus on their training, and allows every member of the Officer’s Corps to maintain an equal rank.

My third thought is what if there was a Sergeant who was not a Swordsman, whose primary goal was to be the liaison between those in the Training Program and the Officer’s Corps?

As Swordsmen, we sometimes forget what it is like to be in the Training Program and having an Officer with that fresh perspective may allow us to better help those in the program. Additionally, this might encourage students to strive for Officership early and allow leadership experience for those who show initiative before they reach the rank of Swordsman.

Thought 4: Regular Training from the Captain/Lieutenants

With Master Swordsmen now in play, Swordsmen have more opportunities to continue their training than ever before. But Officers often sacrifice that continued learning to fulfill their duties and train those in the Training Program.

My fourth thought is what if the Sergeants received regular trainings from the Captain/Lieutenants?

This could be leadership or fencing training set aside for Officers to work in private. It could be a once a month session during an Open Practice or at some point outside of practice. The goal would be to develop a more tightly knit Officers Corps and to give back to the Officers who are already sacrificing their practice for others.

Thought 5: Sergeant-Run Practices

This year we saw a lot of success and variety by allowing practices to be rotated between the Captain, each Lieutenant, and the Master Swordsmen. This really alleviated the weight of planning practices week in and week out, but also gave individuals more time to plan practices and coordinate with each other.

My fifth thought is what if we throw Sergeants into that rotation?

It wouldn’t be where each individual Sergeant had to plan a practice, but the Sergeants as a whole. For example, a month of practices could go like this:

  • Week 1: The Captain leads practice.
  • Week 2: A Lieutenant leads practice.
  • Week 3: The Master Swordsmen lead practice
  • Week 4: The Sergeant leads practice 

Obviously, it wouldn’t be a set rotation like what I just listed. Instead, it would be providing opportunities for the Sergeants to take over a practice and gain the experience of planning/running a practice. The Lieutenants would offer support and guidance as well.