MILITARY EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COMMANDANT CHARLES DINEEN

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1 MILITARY EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COMMANDANT CHARLES DINEEN 09 March

2 Introduction I intend to outline the importance of adopting an Organisational Development perspective when approaching the topic of Leadership Development. Utilising an Organisational Development perspective envisages Education as only one component in an integrated approach to Leadership Development. Unlike civilian organisations, Armed Forces cannot simply buy in talent, at mid and senior levels, but we must develop our own leaders. Therefore, Leadership Development is an integral part of an Officer s entire career. In this context, I would agree with General Sir Mike Jackson, when he stated in 2008: successful Leadership will not just emerge: it requires a structured and progressive programme of development...this [Leadership] Development cannot be left to a fixed menu of training courses, to some tick in the box approach. 1 Organisational Development The essence of Organisational Development is improving the functioning of individuals, teams and the total organisation. The point that distinguishes Organisational Development from other approaches is the commitment to make improvements sustainable. While strategists support senior leaders to determine how an organisation should adapt externally, Organisational Development practitioners support senior leaders to ensure that there is adequate internal development to support the delivery of the organisations strategy. Organisational Development is a process that focus on the total system even when tasked with looking at a specific organisational issue. Therefore when examining the issue of Military education in the context of Leadership Development the Organisational Development perspective requires us to examine the process, and total system, associated with the development of leaders and leadership with the specific organisation. The components of leadership development Initially, please permit me to examine the subject, availing of seven key components, which I believe are a perquisite for successful Leadership Development. These components are Education, Training, Experience, Learning, Change, Self Development and Evaluation. All the components are interrelated and together form the total system of leadership development within an organisation such as the Defence Forces. Adopting a total systems approach and understanding the relationship between each of these components will result in improved leadership development, sustained organisational performance and sustained organisational development. Education In my opinion, education, both military and civilian, is the most fundamental component of Leadership Development. Within our Defence Forces, formal military education is conducted in The Military College and on occasions in foreign Military 1 Financial Times, Thursday 10 April 2008, p14, Fundamentals of Military Leadership apply in wider world, General Sir Mike Jackson & Jonathon Hogg 09 March

3 Colleges. Our civilian education is focussed on augmenting military education, and attaining our education objectives, is conducted in Universities and other appropriate Third Level Colleges. However, I m sure that you all will agree with me, when I state that education on its own is not very effective for Leadership Development. I firmly believe that unless officers, either commissioned or non-commissioned, have Leadership experience, the education they are receiving will be less effective. The actual timing of military and civilian education in the role of Leadership Development is critical. Experiences can provide the context, within which education can be placed, in order to maximise the potential for Leadership Development. Utilising these experiences within educational programmes is most important. Mintzberg (2004) in his examination of MBA programmes criticised the assumption that MBA programme produced the future business leaders as many attending MBA programme have little or no leadership experience. What is crucial is that military and civilian education is received at the appropriate time within career progression of a Military Officer. Moving from direct through operational and then to strategic levels the successful military officer must be educated in order to function at the appropriate level at the appropriate time in his/her career. Training The next component of Leadership Development is Training. Induction training, especially at cadet level, is particularly important, as the individuals values, beliefs and attitudes are developed against the requirements of the military organisation. The training environment is critical to ensure the transmission of Leadership attitudes, values, beliefs and ethos. The process of socialisation during training, provides for the inculcation of ideas based on the values and culture of the Defence Forces. Whereas socialisation occurs during induction training, the process must prevail throughout an officer s or NCO s career. Experience and Reflection The potential value of experience in the Leadership Development is well documented, but how to maximise the potential of these experiences is crucial for Leadership Development. In this regard, two HRM parameters are desirable. Firstly, a formal, structured approach towards mentoring is required. Secondly, the system of Officers movements, namely postings and transfers, needs to be more closely linked with the performance appraisal system. Mentoring I will deal with mentoring first. Learning from experience is not always automatic. Some officers tend to repeat the same mistake especially on issues associated with Leadership. A formal mentoring process is embedded within the Cadet School with the buddy buddy and Cholóir system. However, the potential for mentoring, as a subset of Leadership Development, needs to be formally introduced throughout the career of an Officer and an NCO. Informal mentoring can often be very damaging, producing a system of Gold Circles with negative consequences. In essence, in my opinion, Armed Forces would benefit from a formal approach, availing of structured reflection and mentoring. 09 March

4 Movements The experience gained from challenging appointments offer fertile Leadership Development opportunities. The best Leadership Development results are achieved through a planned sequence of command appointments, selected to fit developing abilities. The optimum strategy for Leadership Development is one that sees an officer s postings and transfers as result of a planned sequence of movements based on developmental needs and abilities. More integration is required between the process of Mentoring, Movements and Performance Appraisals to ensure that the potential benefits of experience can be maximised. Learning The next component I would like to emphasise in the context of Leadership Development is Learning. The critical importance of this component is captured in the following quote, Leadership is not taught. Leadership is not learned. Leadership is learning (Antonacopoulou and Bento, (2004). When attempting to devise an approach to Leadership Development, for diverse and stratified organisations, such as Armed Forces, there is a powerful tendency to seek solutions that are prescriptive, definitive and complete. This is particularly understandable within a military system where there is a tendency to develop lists that are definable and measurable. However, the unintended consequences of such a prescribed approach, has been described as undermining the concept of lifelong learning. The paradox associated with the competency based approach, is that the more attempts are made to describe a list of defined, specific competencies, the further away one will be from an agile, adaptive, self-aware leader demanded by the Defence Forces. In my opinion, this is particularly relevant in the case of the Irish Defence Forces. Some critics of the military approach to Leadership Development, identified the lack of a learning element within the US Armed Forces model BE KNOW - DO, as a prominent weakness. This criticism concludes that leaders who think they know, are often ineffective. There is ample merit in amending the model from BE - KNOW - Do to BE LEARN - and DO. I believe that there is considerable merit to this approach, and that where an overly prescribed slant to Leadership Development is adopted, it can result in a myopic view resulting in Group Think. A Leadership doctrine based on the assumption that Leadership can be divided into independent parts, competencies, traits, characteristics and thinking patterns, results in closed-loop thinking and does not represent true development. Leaders at all levels must continue to seek learning opportunities and must never assume that they know everything. In this regard listening and effective communications are fundamental competencies of senior leaders. Central to both listening and communication is a willingness to learn. Change and Leadership I m sure we have all encountered leaders who failed to make the transition from one level of Leadership to the next higher level, thereby limiting their performance and ability. Kegan and Lahey (2009) in their 2009 book Immunity to Change emphasise the need for leaders to be supported in making the change. The inability to adapt to 09 March

5 change is documented as a common factor limiting Leadership Development (Centre for Creative Learning). Obviously, Change is a requirement in any model of Leadership Development. Change is even more relevant for Military Leadership due to the levels of Leadership in the military environment, such as direct Leadership and senior level Leadership, the latter encompassing Leadership at the operational and strategic levels. There needs to be a significant change in leadership behaviour when an officer advances from one level to the next higher level. The competencies required at Senior Level Leadership are different to those required at direct Leadership levels. However, knowledge of the required competencies is not sufficient, as individuals have the tendency to relapse back to their dominant or preferred methods of Leadership, which may not be the most appropriate at the next level. This is why education and knowledge is not effective on its own. Incorporating change into the organisations approach and philosophy on Leadership Development requires it to prevent relapse and therefore requires it to support its leaders in making more sustained change. A formal mentoring system could minimise a relapse and encourage change during transition, thus developing a Senior Level Leader s full potential. Individual Responsibility and Self Development The sixth component of Leadership Development is the requirement for individual Leaders to accept full responsibility for their self development. The component of self-development is very closely linked to the previous component of Change. I am advised that Goleman in 2002 identified the crux of Leadership Development, as self-directed learning which he defines as: Intentionally developing or strengthening an aspect of who you are, or who you want to be, or indeed both. Looking at this quotation, I believe that the intentional is significant, as it requires a level of insight to know the Leadership aspect that requires development. Therefore, the commitment of each leader to self-development and personal change is crucial to achieving effective Leadership Development. Evaluation the Final Component of Leadership Berke, Kossler and Wakefield (2008) identify assessment as one of the key principles in the development of leadership talent. They argue that the impact of leadership development initiatives can and should be measured. Being a seasoned military professional is all about acknowledging assumptions and examining alternatives (Paparone, 2004, p.2). This statement, on leadership development from a US Colonel, emphasises the importance of analysis, evaluation and questioning. These are fundamental parts of the military planning process and are indoctrinated through the professional military education of Officers. Applying this level of rigorous analysis and evaluation to the process of leadership development, would therefore be natural extension of current military doctrine. It should form part of the approach adopted for the development of leadership within the organisation. Such evaluation combined with diverse perspectives within the leadership approach is more likely to secure double-loop learning and therefore more effective leadership development. 09 March

6 Kirkpartrick s (1998) four levels of evaluation provides a useful guide. The relevance of Kirkpatrick s levels of evaluation is that it looks at two sets of drivers, the external drivers and the internal drivers. The external drivers provide information on the impact of leadership development on the business/organisation. The internal drivers provide information on student satisfaction and whether they have mastered the course content. The evaluation of the system as part of double-loop learning is advocated by Paparone (2004), in addition to an evaluation of the individual practices of leadership development. Kirkpatrick s model is considered robust enough to be applied to include the evaluation of both the individual and organisational levels required for the double-loop learning advocated for an effective leadership development approach. IRISH DEFENCE FORCES - LEADERSHIP The Irish Defence Forces provides a unique context to study Leadership Development. In my opinion, there is no single best Practice model of Leadership Development that can be applied to all Armed Forces. I would argue that Leadership Development should be unique to the Armed Forces and should reflect the Context, Culture, Ethos and Values of that particular Organisation. In the context of the Irish Defence Forces, the process of Leadership Development crosses a number of functional boundaries. It encompasses Unit Commanders and a range of Sections within Defence Forces Headquarters, including our Strategic Planning Section, our Human Resource Management Section and our Training Section. Unlike times past, when HRM was seen in a supportive role, our current policy envisages HRM providing significant value to capability development, operational readiness, unit cohesion and indeed Leadership Development. This move to a more strategic HRM is targeted at providing significant value to Defence Forces capability. It requires clear policies, doctrine and procedures along with qualified personnel to ensure that the Defence Forces can respond to the challenges of the future. The importance of a broad education, training and experience, and the role of Unit Commanders, in developing their subordinates Leadership qualities, is clearly articulated throughout the Defence Force. The education and training system is established to achieve a progressive multi-level system from Direct Leadership to Senior Level Leadership encompassing both the operational and strategic levels in peace, conflict and war. A constructive evaluation of Defence Forces documentation and publications reveals an identifiable approach to Leadership Development. This approach can be said to entail the recruitment of cadets with Leadership qualities. The recognition and development of these qualities is then advanced through education, supported by socialisation during training, and experience. It is based on Defence Forces values, culture and ethos. The development of Leadership qualities is implemented through progressive education and training, HRM processes including performance appraisal, Unit Commanders inputs, and the individual Officers experiences at home and abroad. Our overall philosophy of Leadership Development is based on the concept of delivering flexible and adaptable leaders with the mental agility and professional skills to deliver a broad range of capabilities, throughout the spectrum of military operations. A perusal of Defence Force syllabi, will indicate that Cadets and Officers 09 March

7 receive a very broad education arising from Leadership, management and organisational studies. There is no testing of individual Leadership styles and no one style of Leadership approach is favoured. The Defence Forces instruction on promotion board assessments states that Leadership qualities and capacity for personnel management is one of the criteria to be considered. FUTURE OF LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT To date, the Defence Forces approach to Leadership Development has served us very well, but the approach may need to become more prescriptive and integrated to cater of the challenges ahead. I see this change minimising the apparent isolation of the key components of Leadership Development and integrating them into a more systematic and holistic Leadership Development framework. While each element of HRM such as recruitment, training and education, promotion, performance appraisal, may independently be efficient, our Leadership Development process will be more effective, if an integrated and structured approach, rather than, what is called, a cultural approach was adopted. CONCLUSIONS In conclusion. within the Defence Forces, our understanding of leadership, and especially Leadership Development, continues to evolve. The differing conceptualisations of what constitutes Leadership Development, combined with the range, nature and relationships between the key component elements, emphasise its complexity. The range, nature and relationship between the key components identified within my presentation clearly demonstrate, that unless a holistic approach, integrating HR processes as a strategic lever, is used within a Leadership Development framework, in my opinion, the vital process of Leadership Development will be limited, and will not achieve its full potential. 09 March

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