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I was recently reminded of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the military change of command ceremony. The ceremonies I’ve attended almost always relate a version of the following:
The change of command ceremony is rooted in military history dating back to the 18th century during the reign of Frederick the Great of Prussia. At that time, organizational flags were developed with color arrangements and symbols unique to each particular unit. To this flag and its commander, the soldiers of the unit would dedicate their loyalty and trust.
When a change of command took place, the flag was passed to the individual assuming the command. This gesture was accomplished in front of the unit so that all could see and witness their new leader assuming his dutiful position. He who held the flag also held the soldier’s allegiance. This tradition has survived throughout military history.
The ceremony, and the festivities surrounding it, provides an opportunity for outgoing commanders to say farewell to their troops, but more importantly, it allows incoming commanders to begin to set the stage for their tour of command. Taking charge of a unit is no trivial task; after all, not only are you assuming responsibility for accomplishing the mission and goals of the unit, but as a leader you are also assuming responsibility for the people who accomplish them.
While civilian organizations typically don’t have formal “change of command” ceremonies, the task of “assuming command” is no less important. Read More »You’re the New Boss, Now What?