Leadership and the Army

We are at a critical point in our history in America. For the second time in a century we have been attacked on our own soil and forced to defend ourselves against a global threat. Due to this treat our soldiers have been able to lead abroad; and here in the homeland giving them a variety of ways to give purpose direction and motivation to accomplish any mission given to them. The military is notorious for developing leaders that have been able to run multi-billion dollar organizations.

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Everywhere you go businesses cry out for leadership, leadership necessary to build better and more competitive products. Most people and organizations are not happy with the people at work who call themselves leaders? They are also not confident in their local, state, and national leaders? Most people just don’t know what a leader is and what a leader should do. In this paper I am going to do is discuss the way the U. S. Military defines leadership, and what all of us can do to become better leaders. Leadership and the military are practically inseparable.

For the last two hundred plus years the military has one through many changes in how it conducts itself abroad. Military leadership and leadership development have become foundational concepts for all Army personnel. It defines the military culture beginning with every recruit learning Warrior Ethos to the leader development programs. It should not be any surprise that civilian Companies conduct research on military leadership, leadership development; and the military culture. We can learn valuable leadership lessons from the people that have been training leaders for over 200 years, the U. S. Military.

The idea most people eave of leadership in the military has a lot to do with yelling and threatening individuals forcing them to crawl through the mud and miss home. That just doesn’t work in the modern military. The crawling through mud and being stressed out in multiple situations seems to be the norm though. The old Army of threatening individuals creates a counter productive environment. With the techniques that are taught in military leadership schools the civilian world can learn a lot by studying how the military trains its leaders. Lets first start with the definition of leadership and what it means to the litany.

The military defines leadership as the process of influencing others to accomplish a mission (a job) by providing purpose, direction, and motivation. Without leadership the military would cease to exist. Chaos would ensue enabling the enemy to break down the infrastructure created by many generations of loyal patriots. This research paper examines the many different types of leadership exist, business, military, moral, political, etc. The focus of this paper is on military leadership in times of war when the stakes are high and the outcome in terms f victory or defeat is generally apparent.

The skills, talents and qualities which are associated with successful military leader are fairly easy to identify their origins. Education, training and experience are all indispensable in a successful military leader, yet intangible qualities appear in most instances to be traceable more to the nature, personality and temperament of successful warrior-leaders which may owe as much to birth and genetics as to upbringing. The only sensible conclusion is that nature and nurture are both important in the development of an effective military leader.

The ultimate test of success or failure in war is victory or defeat. Yet some of history’s most successful commanders have experienced defeat, Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo, Erwin Roomer at El Alameda and Douglas MacArthur at Bataan. They were defeated for different reasons, usually because of circumstances wholly or partially outside their control. No leader should put troops into the field merely to gratify their own ego; no leader should fight a battle simply out of spite. Although a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

Hence the enlightened leader is heedful, and the good leader is full of caution. Sun Thus In today’s military with two wars being engaged and talks with other countries being conducted behind closed doors draw downs are happening. This does not include draw downs in war torn countries, but here in the United States. Great leaders who have been hardened by several deployments around the world are leaving. These leaders may have wanted to leave or have been drawn down due to downsizing. The Air Force is currently drawing down 42,000 of its force and the Navy is looking at doing the same.

The Army and Marine Corps are currently at the levels they want and have not made any decisions to downsize. All branches are losing leaders due to contracts being fulfilled or retirement packets are being submitted. One thing all of these individuals have in common is they will soon be civilians looking for a new career. The Department of the Army may have a career just for them due to their experience on the battlefield and leadership skills. The leadership skills all soldiers or servicemen have learned will be a valuable tool throughout their lives.

The successful development of military and civilian leaders is key to all the services success in peacetime and in combat. The military recognized this early on and became the forerunner in the establishment of a progressive and sequential training common core to ensure military and civilian leaders are ready to meet these new challenges. Downsizing and reorganization have brought to light the increasing need of civilian leaders trained to assume the duties of more and more military positions as these military leaders are freed to pursue and perform soldier-unique missions/ functions.

Both military and civilian leaders must be creative and adaptive problem solvers, capable of operating in times of increased responsibility and change. The civilian side of the Department of Defense came up with a program to enhance the leadership capabilities of its employees. The Civilian Leader Development Action Plan (CLAP) was developed and approved by the Chief of Staff, Army in 1990. Twenty four recommendations focused on four broad areas: 1 . Achieving a Total Army Culture; 2. Adopting a civilian leader development system; 3. Evolving and delivering civilian leadership training; and . Resounding the program. One key recommendation of the CLAP in 1990 was “to provide essential leader training, progressively and sequentially, to parallel leadership training afforded to military officers. ” This recommendation was the catalyst for building today’s civilian leadership training core curriculum. The curriculum captures progressive and sequential training at four broad levels (intern/entry, supervisory, managerial, and executive) and parallels the formal training pillar of the officer leader development system.

The courses are developed/delivered by the Center or Army Leadership, WHQL, TRADED, and the Army Management Staff College. (Department of Defense, 2004) Many organizations based on the Army and its basic leadership principles have been started to help leaders with their ability to bring a team together. Some of the techniques they use include leadership consulting which helps leadership strategies the type of growth and direction preferred for the organization. These companies also help develop a plan on how this can be accomplished.

These plans can be onsite or off site. The On-site Interventions are one of the most popular and usually the least expensive option. These interventions can provide consulting and workshops at the office or at a nearby public facility to make it convenient for the team. The teams are put to the test with experiential activities to help the team learn to be the best it can be. Some Organizations find Off-site Adventures are beneficial in helping to change the team dynamics. A variety of experiential opportunities are designed to put the group into challenging positions.

Their analysis of the situation, brainstorming efforts, problem solving skills and leadership abilities will be crucial factors in their success. The Military uses the on-site method to accomplish its goals on training leaders and teams. One of the simplest techniques the Army uses is the obstacle course to teach the basics of team building. In every team individuals always have a place on the team. What I mean by this statement is delegation is used by leaders to make sure the mission is accomplished and everyone is working together.

If everyone completes their individual task then the team as a whole is successful. When one doesn’t finish their assigned task the team can quickly find itself in reaction mode. This creates unwanted tension and forces others to complete the unfinished task, and the blame game begins. The obstacle course is designed to test the individual and the team with mental and physical exercises. Most of the obstacles are designed for the individual to accomplish by either climbing or crawling. The team obstacles include one member helping another physically or mentally.

Not all the obstacles are low to the ground and finding yourself 40 feet above the ground, some individuals need the extra encouragement to make it. Others require a team to help one another get over a wall or clear a room. If everyone knows their place and their executed position the team works like clockwork. They tend to trust one another and after completing these tasks multiple times each member knows what the others are thinking. Just like in football we all have our position in any organization and must make sure we accomplish what we are assigned.

Team building exercises are designed to increase our effectiveness and overall make the organization we work for a lot of money. The organizations that have been created to enhance a company’s team building have taken a lot of the leadership qualities from the Military. The Off site programs use obstacle courses, rafting trips, and even hiking trips to mentally and physically tire their students. This brings the individuals out of their comfort zones and allows them to experiment in different leadership positions. When using the on site or the off site techniques it is important to ensure complete participation.

It may also be helpful to go around the group and have each member take a turn sharing. Writing can be used as a way for members to privately organize their thoughts before sharing with the larger group. One way to do this is by handing out index cards and having members scored their thoughts. In my experience using humor helps build group rapport. It is important to remember that humor should be used to create safety and not alienate or offend people in the group. At times, it is appropriate to share your own experience as an example or model.

Breaking the group into pairs or small groups allows all members to share their ideas in a less-threatening environment. After sharing in a small group, some members may find it more comfortable to share their ideas with the large group. Common themes can then be identified in an open discussion. (latitudinarians. Com, 2008) My favorite ay to involve group members is to ask them to give feedback or to critique what you or others have said or done. It is important to encourage the group to start with strengths or positive feedback before suggesting areas for improvement. eave found that learn something new each time I use this technique. In closing having the ability to lead a team and accomplish the daily duties is an important task. Companies spend millions of dollars a year to make sure their employees are trained and able to adequately run the departments. Having leadership courses encourages all the participants to take the leader role. This infuses a sense of accomplishment and knowledge of each others job. With everyone knowing the others role there is less misunderstanding and miscommunication causing unnecessary tension and stress in a workplace.

In closing the change management approach and recommended action that I would advise for minimizing adverse impact on the organization and its people is solid training and follow ups. It is truly important for our leaders train and maintains the force. Our leaders in today’s business along with the military must be able to operate independently in an ambiguous, dynamic, and politically insensitive environment. Leaders at all levels must be able to communicate, coordinate, and negotiate with a variety of personnel, including joint and coalition forces, interagency partners, nongovernmental organizations, local leaders, U.

S. And foreign media, civilians, contractors, and people of different cultures and languages. The most lethal weapon on the battlefield is a thinking human being. Technology is there to enhance that lethality. If our military is to survive and grow stronger, I believe that the warrior has to be brought into the forefront of military training. In Vietnam, we saw our complex technology and panoply beaten by an enemy who relied on small unit tactics, simplicity, and the intangibles of esprit, dedication, and cohesion, summed up in the modem sports term as heart.

The other half of that equation is the intellect required to make that bean work. General Omar Bradley is quoted as saying, “Leadership is intangible, and therefore no weapon ever designated can replace it. ” That axiom is even more tree today in the information age. Leadership is the most essential element of combat power because it focuses our will and ability to fight.