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Leadership And The Army

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Leadership and the Army

Stephen Goodwin

Ashford University

Dr. Donny Bagwell

BUS 610

April 14, 2008


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. 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 gone 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.

Leadership and the Army

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 have 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 military. 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 of 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 Rommel at El Alamein 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 Tzu

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 (CLDAP) 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;



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