Leadership models and values: The agile officer in a globalising world

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Military Leadership operates in a distinct field, characterised by discipline and conflict, but also by compassion and creativity. ‘Command and Control’ approaches may be said to accommodate the former, whilst the latter may orient more towards models of ‘empowerment’. Such a black and white view of leadership, however, is misleading, as witnessed by the situated phenomenon of German Auftragstaktik. For a military force entering into the diverse globalised arena of the 21st century an understanding of the most pertinent leadership approaches is likely to be beneficial. For an army aiming to train an agile officer, quick thinking based upon theory and values appears to be key.

Leadership begins in the individual. Leading oneself is vital in being able to engage in the social world, to influence and orient others to a particular cause or objective. In this process, team leadership is essential in tackling the new challenges thrown up by the eclectic nature of a rapidly globalising world. Habermas (1987) warns of the insidious creep of ‘technicism’ in the Neo Liberal globalising world. This is where society is altered due to technology, and the human element is obviated in a problem-fix solution culture. It is the march of positivism at a global level, where, driven by market forces, numbers and figures produce solutions to global issues. This sentiment was echoed by Prince Charles (Gye, 2015) in last year’s passing out parade at Sandhurst, praising the British understanding of the human factor, and stressing the importance of empathy in the face of technology. These challenges are well addressed in pedagogy through the process of social constructivism, as outlined by Lev Vygotsky (1978). It is one where the individual attains identity and character though a process mediated between self, and the

group. This on-going dialectic is one that builds connection to abstract ideas and models, establishing emotional connection to rational concepts, and developing values in the affective domain. In this way, the identity of leadership (based on values) can only materialise in team interaction, with empathy, guided by conceptual rigour. As a result, and as this paper will argue, the development of team leadership and the development of values profit enormously when developed in a symbiotic relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


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