Posts Tagged ‘Modern’

A Thought Experiment For Modern Leadership Education – Adapting to Uncertainty

March 10th, 2021

I had an opportunity to participate in a thought experiment on military leadership in times of revolutionary change in the operational environment. I was struck by how the discussion resonated with the concept of “transparency”. Here is a summary of the key points that emerged, any of which resonate for broader issues of leadership of all types:

Conventional times:

· The Commander is the most senior and experienced in the unit.

· His experience is directly relevant to the current situation.

· He knows what else he needs to know from the staff to complete his vision and concept.

· By exception the staff may bring things to his attention.

· The staff reports the needed information.

· The commander is smart and experienced; wise; the final authority; the director.

· We look to him for certainty, and would consider his “confusion” or “not knowing” to be a sign of weakness and concern


Exceptional times:

· Situations are new, dynamic, unique and evolving.

· Experience is not directly applicable, and may actually be harmful (constraining, confining, blinding).

· Commander doesn’t know what he needs to know because his frame does not fit or is unformed.

· Subordinate staff and subordinate commanders, who are CLOSER TO THE SITUATION, have more direct exposure & experience .

· Staff and subordinate commanders MUST push their vision and interpretation and “framing” higher.

· The senior commander must actively seek, and encourage their input to drive the collaborative process of team learning.

· The Commander MUST be open and emotionally vulnerable to share the limitations of his knowledge. His values must be solid, but he must be transparent, and finally, perform the role of final judge and ratifier of the process.

· He must be wise, not smart; Open and questioning, not clear and decisive (until it is time for action) .

· This places a premium on intellectual humility, a commitment to inquiry and subordinate empowerment.

· Must be willing to be the least informed guy in the room, AND the best critical thinker.

· Must have an empathetic, loyal staff who supports his vulnerability


· If you believe we are inside a revolutionary shift in battlefield requirements, then how do we live and educate to these new ideas?

· How much of a transition would this shift in perspective and culture represent to our warrior profession?

· How would YOU go about the leading the transition?

· What are you DOING about it?