This paper is a four-part project that encompasses the lessons that have been learned during the LDR701S course. The objective of this investigation is to pick a strategic leadership issue that impacts a military organization. The course’s learning objectives are embedded in the current project and support it thoroughly. In order to look at the given strategic issue, the author of the current paper utilizes the VUCA (Volatile-Uncertain-Complex-Ambiguous) environment and information regarding how a meta-leadership model can be used to lead in a complex environment. Therefore, the first part of the assignment describes the key strategic issue.
The second part of the paper outlines the factors (i.e., social, political, organizational, and resource constraints), which affect the chosen strategic issue. Additionally, the author utilizes the VUCA framework to describe why this specific leadership issue is a strategic issue, the stakeholders involved, the organizational processes that affect the issue, and the policies that can help or hinder the strategic issue.
Throughout the third part of the paper, the investigator analyzes the issue and looks into reprioritizations, areas that could be improved, communications, policy changes, innovation, leadership development, and ethical considerations, which might hinder or help cope with the strategic leadership issue of employee reluctance.
Lastly, the fourth part of the paper discloses some of the recommended courses of action and references for proper implementation of specific activities intended to help the organization address strategic leadership issue.
Lack of Strategic Leadership; Unable to Move Forward after Mission Change
The 181st Intelligence Wing was part of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) 2005. BRAC is a Congressional action every five years to address budget issues by consolidating missions or multi-service opportunities. At that time, it was chosen that the F-16C/D’s would leave Terre Haute, Indiana, the 181st Fighter Wing. This action forced the State of Indiana to consolidate two fighter wings into one. This forced the 181st Fighter Wing to accept another mission set, which was, at that time, technologically advanced and did not include flying an airplane. The weapon system reassignment required all airmen assigned to the wing to attend their respective Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) technical training. The specific mission assigned to the 181st Fighter Wing was the Distributed Ground Station (DGS). This weapon system was an Intelligence mission. All officers from the wing commander to those executing the mission were required to attend Officer Intelligence Course at Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, Texas. This mission reassignment caused the state to refocus the priorities for the state. TAG aligned his priorities to match the two air wings in the state. The organization’s sister unit would be aligned with any future aircraft missions, and the 181st would be aligned with any future Intelligence-type missions. This should have been the point where Terre Haute began to align all vision and mission statements to continue to grow the new initiatives for the state.
Key Strategic Issue
Terre Haute, Indiana Air National Guard, is the home of the 181st Intelligence Wing. In 2005 the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) forced the wing to remission from a Fighter wing to an Intelligence wing. During a re-missioning, it is required that all unit members who were going to execute the weapon system or lead any part of the weapon system to go away to their respective Intelligence training to gain the necessary qualifications. However, many of the fighter wing leaders were unable to find jobs where they could continue to fly or maintain the jets and maintained a leadership position at the Intelligence wing. Additionally, they were also unwilling to requalify in their respective position in the Intelligence mission. At that time, the leadership believed they could continue to lead an Intelligence wing while representing the Fighter wing – against the TAGs strategic initiatives.
This paper will determine if this is a strategic issue through the lens of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA). The researcher is going to examine the stakeholders and leaderships who have been or currently are part of the strategic issue. The organizational processes within the wing structure and the processes that exist at higher headquarters, required for a wing to operate, need to be examined to determine why this may or may not be a strategic issue. Therefore, the author will examine these policies and how they affected this particular strategic issue.
In this paper, the strategic issue selected to be discussed is one that all airmen at the 181st Intelligence Wing could not speak about the lack of willingness to engage in requalification training to upper leadership. The air leadership selected to represent both air wings in the State of Indiana is only filled by rated pilots. This leadership has purposefully selected the same-like leadership to remain in position and have ensured that all Intelligence trained officers are force managed out of the state when they reach the general officer level. That could be one of the essential parts of the strategic leadership issue. Leadership at the operational and tactical levels were filled by airmen qualified in the Intelligence and Cyberspace realms of mission execution. These two lower leadership (operational and tactical) have attempted to advocate and assist the strategic leaders in guiding the wing in strategically aligning organizational vision and mission statements supporting the existing state TAG’s strategic initiatives. The TAG’s stated strategic initiatives are new fighters for our sister wing(reference) and a cyber ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) mission that would complement the current weapon systems at both wings. However, the issue at the Intelligence wing is that the leadership continued to fight for fighters, even after being told a second fighter wing within the state will never be approved in this environment of decreasing budgets. In order to make a fair evaluation or analysis later in the paper, the author has to touch upon the social, political, organizational, and resource constraint factors.
First, there are numerous social factors surrounding this strategic issue. To correctly solve any issue at the unit level, the problem’s socialization should be shared with all stakeholders responsible or capable of advocating for a new mission to grow and protect a mission with a long history with its local community. In 2005, when the 181st Intelligence Wing was BRAC’d, and the F-16’s were lost, immediately, our leadership should have focused on the next mission set. However, the existing leadership, at that time, chose to argue why the 181st Fighter Wing was the better wing within the state to maintain the iron. This after-the-fact argument was nonsense and poor timing. The decision was already made and should have been argued many years before the actual decision. The leaders never thought strategically prior to BRAC and never socialized the need to advocate in keeping the jets in support of the local community, the state, and the nation. Further, this lack of socialization with the local community led to complacency and the lack of socialization with our political leaders.
Politically, there is some tremendous military support in the state of Indiana. However, this incredible support is only suitable for the wing if a strategic vision and mission will be communicated to the Wing’s political representation. The lack of a strategic vision and the lack of lean-forward invitations to meet and discuss these strategic initiatives are some of the examples of a non-existent strategic leadership at the 181st organization.
Organizationally, the 181st Intelligence Wing is set up and led by officers who had never gone to technical training in order to gain the new Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) required to lead the new weapon system assigned to Terre Haute Air National Guard Base. The leaders of this unit were unable to gain employment in a flying wing for the last 15 years due to their age, years of service, and rank. It was up to the state to determine if they were still part of the force management and if they had a viable function to run the new weapon system. Lastly, they were determined to be the best leaders to move the weapon system forward and continue to align the wings vision and mission with the State of Indiana TAG’s initiative. The fighter wing leadership was also hired to lead the air-side of the state at Joint Force Headquarters-Indiana.
Having defined the factors, this paper will analyze the reasons leading to the last 15 years of how the 181st Intelligence Wing’s current and past leadership did or did not align the strategic vision and mission statements with the TAG’s strategic vision for the state.
Reprioritization of Physical, Monetary, or Human Resources
With the team not willing to engage in requalification activities, it may be safe to say that the critical area of reprioritization should be the availability of monetary and human resources. An in-depth view of the strategic issue proves that physical assets’ reprioritization would not generate any positive outcomes either on a short- or long-term scale. It should be noted that the Intelligence wing provides enough training opportunities to the Fighting counterpart, which makes it evident that the growing reluctance among some of the members of the team is a representation of the lack of subordination and effective leadership (Rapp, 2015). As for the monetary resources, it may be concluded that the visible hesitancy of the leadership is a clear sign of potential financial burdens requiring the organization to invest additional resources into ensuring that every employee has a job and actually maintains their position instead of displaying an extreme level of reluctance.
Areas of Cultural Competency Improvement
One area that should be clearly improved based on the evidence obtained within the framework of the current paper is the lack of intraorganizational understanding. In other words, the team recurrently fails to address the presence of unconventional opinions that slow down the organization and make it harder for the leadership unit to make decisions and reallocate human resources. The Intelligence unit could take on the issue of understanding in order to reduce the future occurrence of confusing scenarios that would cause them to turn to reluctant behaviors (Laslie, 2015). Another area that the team would have to address is the lack of socialization skills among the leadership unit. This relates to the capability of resolving conflicts properly and speaking out when necessary instead of arguing and losing time and other valuable resources. Overall, cultural competencies establish the basis for future organizational change.
Communications or Negotiations with Stakeholders
The issue of conflict resolution, though, goes way beyond mere arguments because it could affect negotiations with stakeholders to an extreme extent. In the case where the leadership expects to achieve positive outcomes, they will have to come up with several rational discussion topics to engage the stakeholders in a valuable discussion and reach necessary agreements regarding fundamental questions such as obligatory re-training and repositioning (Savage & Caverley, 2017). The current situation is far from perfect due to the lack of adequate responses from the leadership, but it should not be considered a complex issue because a prolonged communication with the right stakeholders would stabilize the organizational environment and create more opportunities for the organization to align its activities against its vision and mission. The problem with stakeholder negotiations is in the fact that the Intelligence wing would most likely decline any statements regarding its reluctance during the initial stages of organizational change.
Despite having to deal with some of the long-standing policies, the organization could benefit from reward-based transformations intended to elicit collaboration and limit the number of loopholes that could be utilized by team members to ignore leadership unit proposals. The current case study proves that policy changes are required to help the team invest more time and money in building a responsive team that would aim to fulfill the mission of the organization and not spend time arguing about trivial points that do not require dispute-like communication in the first place. This hypothesis may also be supported by the idea that the future policy changes could relate to obligatory educational sessions for any employees switching from the Fighting wing to its Intelligence counterpart and vice versa (Simpson, 2015). This would help the organization build a resilient team with a complete set of unique skills that could be used to respond to practically any critical incident.
Areas for Innovation (Mission, Organization, Processes)
According to the information listed in the previous subsections of the paper, it may be concluded that there is no reason to introduce any significant changes to the mission of the 181st Intelligence Wing, as the essential tasks would remain the same for all stakeholders. Instead, it may be recommended to focus on the organization due to the high risk of recidivism among the leaders believing that they can maintain activities across both Wings simultaneously. This requires the team to come up with a policy that would separate employees based on their qualifications instead of allowing them to display reluctance and retain several positions at the same time (Warren, 2015). Nevertheless, the team should also take care of the lack of jobs created by the requalification process because it would inadvertently cause numerous employees to quit their activities and switch to reluctant behaviors in order to draw attention to the existence of a specific problem.
Areas for Leadership Development
Leadership development across the organization should revolve around the process of finding the right solution to any problem without having inexperienced stakeholders engaged in the decision-making process. This would require every employee to communicate with their executives and then pass on that experience to their own subordinates. The two Wings described within the framework of the current paper have to pay closer attention to attracting lower-ranked personnel to the training process in order to increase the rate of irreplaceability among employees and overcome the challenge of reluctance with the help of interchangeability (Callina et al., 2017). Essentially, this means that superiors and subordinates should be united by leadership in an attempt to develop specific competencies required for the requalification or any other essential military process. Wing leadership should be based on the idea of collaboration and not reluctance because otherwise, the team is going to suffer from future misunderstandings and even more exorbitant episodes of reluctance.
The last area that should be reviewed within the framework of the current paper as an element of the case is the presence of ethical considerations that could influence the ultimate results of deploying the proposal. First of all, it is crucial to approach both Wings with a series of objective pieces of evidence that would let them realize the need for cross-sectional requalification and a stronger focus on developing flexible units where employees can easily switch teams without causing an economic or HR collapse. On the other hand, the team should be responsible for providing every requalifying employee with a job in order to back up the need for training sessions with an adequate reward that would relate to the topic of education as a matter of fact (Smith & Jones, 2015). In a sense, the organization should be aiming to respond to the issue of reluctance with the help of bringing both teams together and making them understand that their positions and skills should be interchangeable.
The implementation procedure is going to consist of the key three steps: preparation, execution, and assessment. The preparation stage should require the involved teams to list their duties and get acquainted with the branch detail considerations. It would help the unit break the tension between teams and develop a better understanding of how the assignments are going to be completed on the way to proper organizational change. At this point, the leadership should communicate its essential objectives to the stakeholders and ensure that each of them gets approved by both Wings. The key area of focus is the deployment of systematic procedures that would promote an event-based approach to teamwork issues, leading the team to give up on an individualistic view of leadership (Lacerenza et al., 2017). On the other hand, the objective should be to attain commitment and seek continuous development irrespective of the challenges affecting the team. Ultimately, leadership should engage in activities that would help them feel encouraged and inspired. Without a positive challenge, both units would stagnate and resort to the previous behaviors that made them reluctant.
During the execution stage, the team would have to allocate enough human and monetary resources to validate the assignment progression. This means that the majority of tasks would become non-branch-specific, leading the Fighting and Intelligence Wings to exchange responsibilities and engaging in learning activities with no obstacles. Despite this activity being somewhat challenging because of the existing level of reluctance in the former Fighting Wing members, it may be safe to say that they possess all the required certifications and training to make tactical decisions and assume responsibility. This factor also suggests that the execution stage should revolve around developmental experiences, allowing for unit-level and cross-training initiatives. In order to retain crucial employees and motivate others to develop both personally and professionally, the team could also benefit from formal and informal counseling sessions aimed at the expansion of the feelings of self-worth and organization-wide contributions (Hill, 2015). Both Wings should directly state their expectations of each other and discuss them upfront in order to reduce the potential impact of confusion later in the program.
Throughout the closing stage of the proposed program, the team would have to evaluate its activities based on the milestones that it achieved while working on reducing the level of reluctance in the most hesitant staff members. At this point, the units would be most likely to realize the importance of their cross-sectional training and develop friendly relationships with each other. The ability to become an essential part of the team would then be considered a crucial variable to look out for in future recruits in order to prevent additional cases of recidivism and increased reluctance to change (Taylor, 2018). As an ultimate part of the assessment procedure, the team would also discuss the broadening opportunities related to additional training and engage guest speakers to elucidate the issue of lifelong learning. From time to time, the team would revisit the level of its social development in order to see how well it could align against the organizational vision and objectives. Reassessment is crucial for a better understanding of how the state of affairs could be improved in the future.
The demanding operational tempo makes it hard for many military units to slow down and see how they could improve their functions. The problem reviewed within the framework of the current paper shows how the values of integrity and valor could be overlooked for the sake of retaining a leadership position and hesitating in the face of numerous learning opportunities. This shows that there is enough room for developing versatility in terms of professional skills and leadership approaches. In a sense, strategic leadership is crucial when it comes to ethically-affected issues because it provides the executives with the possibility to go beyond prior experiences. The team could establish the best way to overcome its problems after checking in with the proposal listed in this paper, where the consistency and value of both units are considered. A focus on strategic leadership is an endeavor to watch out for because it reinvigorates teamwork and aids the team in developing the most in-depth approaches to organizational issues. By the end of the program, both the Fighting and Intelligence wings would be most likely to become more acknowledging of the situation, which would also reduce the chances of repeated reluctance to change in the future.
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