Showing posts with label military leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military leadership. Show all posts

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reflection on Military and Civilian Leadership

Leadership in civilian and military organizations caries some of the very same characteristics. Even though each organization may emphasis different aspects of leadership the same traits that were successful in one arena, such as the military or civilian world, may transfer across sectors. A comparative analysis in the Journal of Military & Strategic studies offer some perspectives on leadership manifestation in multiple arenas (Horn, 2014). 

The leadership styles in the military and the civilian world may not be so different even though the definitions may change. Each has their own way of looking at leadership due to the needs of their environment. The actions that make one successful in one organization may also make the same person successful in another.

Consider how a logistic's officer in the military may require certain levels of knowledge and skill in order to reach leadership status. The same idea would apply in civilian distribution centers that rely on similar processes and technologies. The leader learns to be adaptive to these adjustments and reach success over new environments.

Even though the same skills apply between various organizations it does take time for new leaders to understand the unique cultures and definitions of leadership in each organization. When learned skills begin to apply and make improvements the overall process of leadership may be mirrored. The basic skills of leadership do not dissipate when moving from organization to organization.

Leaders have basic abilities that can apply across multiple organizational types and industry sectors. A military leader may be able to apply these basic leadership traits across various military departments in the same way that a successful executive in one company may repeat that success in another organization. The personality and learned knowledge simply doesn't disappear when moving from one company to the next.

The comparative analysis helps us to understand that each organization may have their own impression of leadership and emphasis certain leadership traits and behaviors. Developed leaders can transfer knowledge and skill across one area to the next. This may be one reason why it is beneficial for the civilian sector to consider the merits of hiring military leaders and why the military may consider civilian leaders. After a learning curve there is a higher likelihood of success. 

Horn, Colonel B. (2014). A reflection on leadership: a comparative analysis of military and civilian approaches. Journal of Military & Strategic Studies, 15 (3). 

Academic Journal

By: Horn, Colonel Bernd. Journal of Military & Strategic Studies. 2014, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p229-249. 21p. Abstract: The article provides a comparative analysis of the military and civilian approaches onleadership. The author suggests that leadership is not a one size fits all activity and depends on the personality and approach of the leader and respective situation and circumstance. Also examined are the strengths of military and civilian leaders and as well as their common weaknesses. (AN: 96718054), Database: International Security & Counter Terrorism Reference Center

Friday, January 30, 2015

Developing Learning Teams-Lessons from the Military

Teamwork is the bread and butter of creating stronger organizations.  Research in military teamwork and leaders can help organizations develop higher levels of functioning teams that learn and develop with each new challenge. Transformational leaders matched with learning teams can produce some of the highest outputs in performance. When developing your next team you will be wise consider a few lessons from the services.

It is first beneficial to understand what a learning team is. Learning teams are capable of taking in new information and adapting to the environment around them. When these teams are capable of changing to stressors they become stronger and are more capable to solving problems in a ways that help them survive.

According to a study on military teams in challenging situations  a transformational leader matched with a learning team can create positive adaptation (Di Schiena, et. al, 2013). Adaptation being the process of developing to a higher level of functioning through new knowledge, higher mental models and shared vision.

New challenges bring more opportunities to learn, integrate the information, and put it to practical use. As teams stay together and face these challenges they also begin adjust themselves to handle new situations when they arise. Transformational leadership provides that extra push to keep the team changing and moving in the same direction.

The study helps business leaders understand that team development is more than throwing a bunch of people together to find a solution. Developing a strong team requires facing challenges and then adapting to those challenges. Each successful adaptation creates a stronger business team that can handle more difficult situations.

Teams don’t always adjust without some level of guidance. When put under major pressure a team can dissipate into chaos. Transformational leaders help to ensure the team stays pliable and continues to adjust without disintegration. Businesses should connect teams with transformational leadership to help them build new models on how to compete.

Di Schiena, R., et. al. (2013). Relationship between leadership and characteristics of learning organizations in deployed military units: an exploratory study. Administrative Sciences, 3 (3).        

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Military Leaders Can Teach Business Executives?

Leadership in tough situations requires one to dig deep to find values, meaning and strength at a more basic level. A paper by Jennings and Hannah discusses the concept of leadership identity formulation among those who experience some of the world’s most intense situations. They create a more concrete formulation of the idea of ethical leadership in the military even when the situation is tough and the right path is not easy to discern. The report focuses on the choice between moral versus legal aspirations.

The ultimate aim of any military is to project and employ force to defend their people, rights of their citizens, interests and very core values of their people. When stressful situations occur individuals within units have multiple competing interests. They may engage in self-preservation, protection of their unit, protecting civilians, engage their personal values, or engage the unit’s values. Each creates different avenues and opportunities for action. How someone chooses between these competing interests determines their ethical leadership stance.

According to Coker (2007) a soldier’s occupation may be fighting but his vocation is to combat the need for war. Thus, the soldier should develop character and virtue rather than simple behavioral compliance with societal norms. To think on this level requires the internalization of concepts such as honor, courage, sacrifice, and patriotism beyond simple social approval. Difficult situations test the very fabric of a person and their ability to draw on internal values versus external compliance.

The author describes military morality a little like Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. At the lowest level is simple grammatical adherence in writing while a higher form of expression breaks all the rules to create an eloquent form of communication.  The professor may give an F on the paper but an A on their ability to think beyond simple substance.  Those who take those types of chances are often judged for breaking codes and standards but can also create new standards that push the envelope.

Essentially, rule following is an extrinsic motivation based in a negative feedback model that creates self-regulation (Bandura & Lock, 2003). Identity conferring constructs are an intrinsically motivated positive feed-forward model based within self-challenge and self-efficacy (Bandura & Locke, 2003). One focuses on social acceptance while the other focuses on complete self-development.

The authors use examples of Above the Call of Duty to highlight their point:

Example 1: The rule-following member does not act to value civilians because he views his life as more important and the rules do not explicitly require him to act to protect others.

Example 2: The identity-conferring member moves beyond the rules and risks his life to protect others because he is guided by his military ethic of what is good, beneficial, and honorable.

The two persons are fundamentally different. The first person is more interested in their life and ensuring that they have the social acceptance of others. The second person is less interested in immediate agreement and moves to take on higher ideals of value. To do so requires a whole different thinking about self in the context of events. He is not only the rule-following soldier only but also the authentic soldier-protector who finds higher value in what he does. He recognizes the value of following the rules but can move beyond them if there is a higher principle worth engaging.

The authors focused on informing and inspiring military conduct under extreme conditions. Previous research fails to develop beyond basic transactional ethics and into the realms of virtuous behavior in combat situations. Exemplary leadership should be seen in terms of transformational and authentic leadership that moves beyond defined standards. As the nature of warfare changes to high civilian interactions and insurgencies the ability to maintain certain ethical considerations in isolation becomes even more important. The author contends that militaries will need exemplary ethics and leadership now and in the future to be successful.

Comment: It can be beneficial to look at leadership in high stress situations where a large array of possible decisions can be made to help organizations formulate a greater understanding of leadership management. This report helps us understand that rule and norm maintenance is an external value system based in self-interest. In day-to-day operations, and standard situations, these rules provide structure and should be followed. Occasionally, it is necessary to think beyond the rules and into greater value systems when difficult situations call for it. Where trust has been broken with the public it is even more important to ensure corporations act in the betterment of society and foster those strengths within their executives so they may think for themselves beyond the social approval of their internal social structure. There are a few examples where business leadership has gone above and beyond the call of duty even when they have taken all the risks.

Bandural, A. & Locke, E. (2003). Negative self-efficacy and goals effects revisited. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88.

Cocker, C. (2007). Warrior ethos: Military culture and the war on terror. New York, NY: Routledge.

Jennings, P. & Hannah, S. (2011). The moralities of obligation and aspiration: towards a concept of exemplary military ethics and leadership. Military Psychology, 23.

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