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Is Management More Important Than Leadership In Today's Raaf

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by Flight Lieutenant P.J. Noake, BA

It is the responsibility of the commander and the officers in the unit to provide the overall direction and to facilitate the motivation needed to move subordinates and peers in the organisation to the accomplishment of the mission. Colonel Mark Chapin, USAF.1


1. In the pursuit of their objectives, all organisations rely on the efficiency and effectiveness of several kinds of resources. Some organisations emphasise their financial resources, others rely on the sophistication and might of their hardware and technology, while others depend heavily on the quality of their workforce and employees.2 The RAAF relies on a balance of all of its resources in order to meet its mission, but arguably, the most important resource of the RAAF is its people. People design, operate and repair technology, control and manage the financial resources, and manage other people in the organisation.3

2. Many texts have been published over the years dealing with the theory and application of human resource management, organisational behavior and leadership. Texts deal with such topics as motivation and morale, and a common area of debate concerns the relative importance of management and leadership in optimising the effectiveness and efficiency of an organisation's human resources. In his article Ð''Back to Basics', and in a subsequent Chief of Air Force's Message to Commanders, Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Errol McCormack outlined some of the important things he intended to achieve for the members of the Air Force. In Ð''Back to Basics', he wrote:

To conduct effective air operations we need well trained and motivated people with skills in all areas that support operations.4

3. In the message to commanders, AM McCormack wrote:

I view morale as the cornerstone of success for the achievement of our mission5 and

Our vision to be a combat-focused force, structured for war and trained to win will only be achieved if all members strive for the highest standards of esprit de corps, professionalism, flexibility, dedication, courage, excellence and ethical conduct.6, 7, 8

4. The responsibility for improving morale, fostering esprit de corps, and promoting excellence in an organisation is that of management, but this can only be achieved through effective leadership. This essay will argue that effective leadership is essential to managing the ever-changing Air Force into the future. It will argue that without effective leadership, management cannot successfully enable the RAAF to develop and maintain the qualitative edge as a combat ready force.9

5. The aim of this essay is to argue that management is not more important than leadership in today's RAAF. Definitions of management and leadership will be provided. Arguments will be presented supporting the proposition, and counter-arguments and a rebuttal of each will be provided.


6. Most definitions of leadership contain certain common elements, and Norman Dixon's definition is synonymous with most general definitions.

Leadership is no more than exercising such an influence upon others that they tend to act in concert towards achieving a goal which they might not have achieved so readily had they been left to their own devices.10

7. Leaders may be appointed, or they may emerge from a group. However, leadership is more than supervisory authority or formal authority. It consists of influence that extends beyond the usual influence that accompanies an appointment. Leaders can influence others to perform beyond the actions dictated by formal authority.11 Competent leaders do many things. They develop trust in their subordinates, peers and superiors; they focus effort on tasks and objectives; inspire confidence; set the example; and motivate others.12

8. Management is the process of getting activities completed efficiently with and through other people. The process represents functions such as planning, organising, leading and controlling. Managers are appointed. They have legitimate powers, and their ability to influence is founded on the formal authority inherent in their positions.13

9. Writers, speakers and consultants alike have thoroughly analysed the difference between leadership and management. Some think of leadership as being associated with the role of a manager, noting that the leading aspect of management involves possessing and exercising those traits and behaviors that are associated with leadership towards the achievement of organisational goals. However, some suggest that leading and managing involve separate and distinct behaviors and activities. Dr James N. Farr teaches his clients to manage things, but lead people. He teaches to manage financial ratios, inventory, processes and information; and lead people, their perceptions, mindset and motivation.14 Farr's teachings however, support the view that management and leadership go hand in hand. Through effectively leading and motivating people, a manager will be able to more effectively manage processes and information which relies on human factors.15

10. It should be noted that a manager might not necessarily be a group's leader. While a group's manager performs planning, organising and controlling activities, the real leader may actually be one of the subordinates. Similarly, a group's head may be a great leader, but others in the group may perform the management functions of planning, organising and controlling processes.16 Thus, leadership can exist on a formal or informal basis and is not always associated with management and command.


11. Change in an organisation can occur in three broad areas; the organisation's structure, technology or people.17 The RAAF has been subject to massive reorganisation for about the last 10 years.18 From the Force Structure Review (FSR), through the Review of Air Base Support (RABS), to the Defence Efficiency Review (DER) and Defence Reform Program (DRP), the Air Force has continually changed in structure and reduced in manpower without lessening operational capability.

12. The forces that created the need for change have come from various sources, some internal, such as RABS, and some external, such as Government pressure to initiate the DRP. But regardless of the origin, magnitude, or final outcome of changes to the RAAF over



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