The paper 'Leadership Style Change within a Military Setting' is a perfect example of a Management Essay. Leadership and the sense of effectiveness embedded therein have been recognized by diverse scholars in the past decades as a fundamental cog in the efforts towards growth and development. This has culminated in different schools of thought in the attempt to expound on what leadership entails in different spheres of life. Lyne de Ver (2009, 3) cited that the concept of leadership has attracted multiple discourses that have produced a glut of literature, mostly in the realms of organizational science and management.
This fact is epitomized by Winston and Patterson (2006, 8) who revealed two theories of explaining a leader. Firstly, the great man theory infers that leaders are individuals who are endowed with exemplary attributes and abilities which are mostly considered heroic. On the contrary, the trait theory perceives individual leaders as persons who possess particular characteristics that are central in enabling the person to become a good leader. Nonetheless, the concept of leadership in the military context has received limited attention mostly on the dynamics and transformations of leadership styles in the military set-up. Against this backdrop, this paper is a profound effort to explore the changes that an individual ought to make in their leadership styles while in the transition process from junior officer to senior officers in the military framework.
However, it is prudent to briefly focus on the generic leadership in the military setting before embarking on the in-depth analysis of the leadership tenets in each epoch of transition. A brief overview of leadership in the military Experience in recent decades has pointed to the fact that the primary role of the military is undertaking missions aimed at stabilization, which range from direct intervention to peacekeeping.
This has tended to influence the focus of military security agenda for instance in Australia where White (2006, 19) cited that the above tenets will be the major focus in defense planning in Australia for the new security agenda. Similarly, the legitimacy of the military operations necessitates a concrete set of values and beliefs which calls for robust leadership mechanisms. This is epitomized in Australia whereby the legitimacy of the Australian Defence Force necessitates that it exemplifies similar beliefs and values as the society in Australia which it defends (ADDP 00.6, 2007, 69). On the other hand, the military has been perceived to be anchored three primary areas of focus in its definition of leadership.
This is whereby the unit perceives leadership as the art of influencing people through the provision of direction, purpose, and motivation, while at the same time operating with the sole aim of mission accomplishment and improving the organization. All these tenets traverse through all the echelons of the military structure.
However, it is worth noting that each one of them is given more prominence in specific ranks during the transitory epochs of an individual in the upward trend towards the apex of the military framework in any country. This necessitates changes in the leadership styles aimed at adapting to the requirements in each rank and in different phenomena. These changes in the leadership styles are explored in the subsequent analysis which will be divided into junior, middle, and senior levels. Junior level Different scholars have pointed to the lack of a robust demarcation of leadership styles by individuals at this particular rank, possibly due to the tendency of the incumbents to compete towards attaining higher standards or due to inefficient recruitment and retaining policies.
This fact is supported by Houston (2007, 1) who cited that one of the most detrimental challenges confronting the Australian Defence Force in the current period is a recruitment and retaining adequate personnel for the purposes of capability maintenance at the present and in the future. Nonetheless, despite the above observation, it is apparent that there is a sense of leadership style development in this particular rank albeit extensive impediments being evident.
Wong, Bliese, and McGurk (2003, 659) determined that the size of the military denotes that in most cases, leaders who include even the junior ones command an enormous collection of subordinates, and therefore, leadership in all spectrums tend to pose a massive impact in terms of personnel. It is worth noting that the leadership style in this particular rank is characterized by the zeal to attain better performance in specific missions mandated to the unit.
This is integral in their efforts to successfully accomplish the mission and attain future recognition which is often characterized by gradual promotion to higher echelons in the military structure. Tactical leadership is often credited to characterize individuals in this particular rank. In this particular context, tactical leadership has been defined as a style of leadership which is often used when the goal has utmost clarity, there has been the development of the plan to achieve this particular goal, and the members of a particular unit unified by a collective effort are being guided in the implementation of the plan (McKinney, 2007, 15). Based on the fact that in the majority of the times, junior officers in the military are often mandated with fieldwork and front lines roles during expeditions, an individual in this category ought to exhibit not only tactical leadership which is associated in the execution of the laid down plans but also situational leadership or contingency leadership. The situational model of leadership suggests how the operations of the leader depend upon the task that needs to be accomplished, the followers’ preference among other situational factors like a temporary coalition with an allied army.
The applicability of situational leadership at the junior level is exemplified by Evans (2008, 123) who noted that there is usually a high likelihood of the Australian forces being employed in missions at the regional level as well as global tactical-level alliance missions which necessitate strategic-situational leadership of a coalition. In the military setting, a leader of junior officers exhibits this form of leadership as a response to the dynamics in the field.
These unexpected dynamics can include injury of a colleague, unexpected weather conditions, breakdown of the communication equipment while in the enemy’ s territory where there is limited time to contact the base for further direction. In these cases, the individual mandated with the role of leading the junior officers ought to act swiftly and decisively in the efforts to salvage the mission. Thus, an individual in the leadership capacity at this level ought to have extensive problem-solving skills. This can be perceived to be related to job-specific skills in the field when confronted by diverse situations and the synergy of contingency leadership and tactical leadership. Middle-level officers This category in the military framework is often comprised of the non-commissioned officers (NCOs).
There is a slight paradigm shift between the leadership styles from the junior officers to the officers in this category, from job-specific skills to a more intensive leadership style. According to FM 6-22 (2006, 26), the military often exhibits extensive reliance on the NCOs who are endowed with more capability of decision-making which is propelled by intent, executing sophisticated tactical operations and operating interagency, joint, and phenomena which are multinational in nature. This class of officers is mandated with the responsibility of taking the information which is supplied by the leaders high in the hierarchy of command and passing it down to their subordinates in the junior echelon.
On the other hand, the junior officers have a more robust relationship with the NCOs who provide inspirations, guidance, and remedies to complex situations. This close relationship is founded on the fact that the NCOs are promoted from ranks which are junior enlisted (FM 6-22, 2006, 26). For an individual who gets into this category, the transactional style of leadership is more prominent based on the increased responsibility of the NCOs, both to the senior and junior levels thus conscientiousness in their promotion from the junior level.
In their study among the Australian Army officers, McCormack and Mellor (2002, 182) determined that the achievement of the leaders in this level was projected by extreme scrupulousness and elevated plainness. Thus, the NCOs give the junior officers the required confidence to attain positive outcomes aimed at attaining rewards after satisfactory results. Homrig (2001, 1) supported the above presumption by citing that transactional leadership is primarily anchored on the exchange of something that has an inherent value which is in possession or control of the leader which the follower desires to reciprocate his or her services.
Against this background, the success of an individual in the NCO greatly depends upon his/her effectiveness in applying the transactional style of leadership in the decision making and problem-solving endeavors. However, it is worth noting that this style of leadership as entrenched among the NCOs ought not to be undertaken in isolation.
This is because the inputs of other styles like the situational model are required to complement this style of leadership. Senior officers These are the senior leaders in the military structure whose leadership style is defined by the nature of the operations, the expectations of the subordinate officers, and the quest to leave a lasting legacy after their imminent departure. These officers are mandated with specific roles, for instance, in Australia, they formulate strategies for the Australian Defence Force which has two primary objectives; defending the people of Australia and sustaining the stability of the region (Senior Officers Professional Digest, 2012, 2). One of the most prominent leadership models in this cadre is strategic leadership.
McKinney (2007, 16) defined strategic leadership as a style of leadership that is put into the utility in the efforts to execute an intelligible sense of organizational direction and nature. This entails coherent and informed decision making as well as critical reflection on one’ s experiences aimed at coping with the dynamics in the contemporary environment. On the other hand, Mau and Wooley (2008, 1) cited that the senior officers are endowed with the capacity of strategically molding morale in the military through robust recruitment and retention programs, fair procedures in deployment location, enhanced remuneration and living conditions for the subordinates as well as sensible communication across all levels of command.
They also inspire motivation and commitment among the subordinates through strategically assuring them of the chances to gain technical expertise and training as well as promotions and advancements in the future. In addition to the above leadership style, individuals who are at the senior level in the military hierarchy tend to greatly rely on the transformational style of leadership.
Procknow (2010, 1) noted that extensive literature that has been reviewed and researched has pointed to the fact that the transformational leadership style is not only the most feasible but also endowed with most returns in the military. Transformational leaders transform their followers into leaders who are endowed with the responsibility for their development, actions, performance, and behavior even after their departure. In addition, it has been pointed out that leadership by example is a key component in the Australian Defence Force which ensures that morale is maintained, wasted efforts are avoided and initiative among the young leaders is promoted (Department of Defence, 2002, 25). This is a leadership trait that is at the highest level of development of an individual who has attained the level of a senior officer in the military.
Individuals who have attained the transformational leadership style usually pose a great impact on the performance of their employees, the soundness of the policies which are formulated and eventually implemented by the subordinates as well as inspiring the followers in the lower levels of command to reach their full potential in their different stages of development. The above fact is supported by Dvir et.
al (1999, 4) who determined that the transformational leaders who in most cases portray behaviors that are charismatic in nature give intellectual stimulation, stir up inspirational inspiration as well as treating their subordinates with the consideration which is individualized. Moreover, they undertake the transformation of their followers to propel them towards attaining their full capacity and produce elevated levels of performance. This style of leadership is imperative in senior levels of the military based on the fact that individuals who possess it create a common sense of purpose, trigger better performance, and increased proactivity towards heightened productivity. In conclusion, the above discourse has underpinned the existence changes in leadership styles which an individual must make while transitioning from junior officer to senior officer within the construct of the military.
This happens mostly with the changes in responsibilities, number of subordinates as well as the need to leave a lasting legacy at the end of one’ s service in the military.
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