The military environment is usually perceived as a setting with excruciatingly rigid standards that stifle any creativity and prevent individuals from developing independence and critical thinking. However, nothing could be further away from the truth than the specified assumption, with one vital condition being met. Specifically, it is only possible to build premises for unwavering compliance and trust and at the same time encourage critical thinking along with the development of the initiative in the troops.
By focusing on integrity as the principal quality that provides the bulk for decision-making and serves as the core of the values developed as a part of being a member of a military team, a leader can inspire team members to become the best versions of themselves while contributing to their initiative and innovativeness.
Integrity as the Basis for Leadership
In the military setting, integrity must play a central role when leading a team. Allowing to set the ethical premises for building the necessary values, attitudes, and behaviors in the troops, integrity must remain at the center of a leadership approach in the army. Specifically, the focus on justice and the needs of others, as well as compliance with the set regulations and meeting the prescribed responsibilities, must be placed at the top of the values to which an army leader must adhere. The concept of integrity is often linked to the ability to demonstrate character and resilience in every aspect of an individual’s life, according to the Department of the Army (2015).
Therefore, as a leader, one must promote integrity as the ability to commit to the existing standards of decision-making and the military ethical code in managing issues and conflicts observed in the army setting. With the focus on integrity, an army leader will be able to introduce homogeneity into the process of decision-making and guide team members toward unbiased and ethically reasonable choices.
Inspiration: Another Vital Aspect of Leading a Team
At the same time, it is impossible to underestimate the role of inspiration in effective military leadership. In order to acquire and develop the necessary skills and qualifications that the troops need in order to perform their duties successfully, they need not only the sense of integrity that encourages them to approach key tasks with responsibility, but also an inspiration as the main driver of motivation.
Being aspired to accomplish a task or to achieve a certain milestone in personal development is a crucial contributor to the proper management of tasks in the military setting (Roberts, 2018). Moreover, when aspiring to develop certain characteristics and skills, team members are likely to build a more nuanced and accurate understanding of how a team functions, as well as what role each of them plays in it (Novikov, 2017). The specified knowledge is particularly important in the army context since it allows soldiers to overcome the challenges associated with the military environment that can at times seem quite hostile.
The issue of inspiration is linked closely to the phenomenon of emotional intelligence as the means of connecting with the troops and building rapport. The role that the ability to recognize, accept, and analyze emotions has on the performance of the troops in the army set is often underrated, which is a tragic mistake. According to Placek et al. (2019), emotional intelligence as the ability to identify one’s emotions and reconcile with them, as well as establish an emotional connection with others, is one of the primary skills that a qualified soldier must possess. Namely, Sewell. (2009, p. 95) states that “the need for leader self-awareness and acknowledgment of this characteristic in others” and “the Soldier-to-leader and leader-to-Soldier socialization process” must be prioritized when leading the troops in a military setting.
In turn, as a leader, one must provide an example of emotional intelligence implemented in the army setting. For instance, the analysis of the conflicts occurring within the army setting between the troops needs the use of emotional competence as the basis for decision-making and the management of disagreements (DiBenigno, 2018). Moreover, emotional intelligence as the basis for military leadership will help soldiers to cope with traumas that they may develop when observing casualties, particularly, among civilians (DiBenigno, 2018). The ability to communicate the painful experiences that change soldiers’ perception of reality and their understanding of relationships between community members is vital to ensure that they retain their humanity even if they happen to observe despicable acts of violence.
Initiative: The Foundation for a Successful Military Leader
Finally, the role of initiative in the military setting needs to be discussed as one of the cornerstone principles in managing tasks and making decisions. Although the troops are expected to implement orders immediately with impeccable precision and without questioning them, it is also required that soldiers must be able to deploy strategic thinking and make decisions in situations that demand immediate action. The described sentiment is expressed perfectly in William O. Woolridge’s statement:
In our Army, every soldier must care about his job. Often-if the duty seems menial or humdrum- it is hard to cultivate this attitude. But it must be done… What you do in your job each day, you do for the Army. (“The sergeants major of the army: On leadership and the profession of arms,” 1996, p. 3)
Therefore, soldiers must be encouraged to be enthusiastic about their job, which can be achieved by promoting initiative and increasing the rates of their participation. As a result, the extent of personal engagement in the management of key tasks will rise, which will lead to better implementation of responsibilities.
With the help of integrity as the crucial part of the leadership strategy and the main value on which a leader centers the target audience’s attention, a radical change toward consistent improvement combined with unwavering trust can be fostered in the military context. Namely, by integrating the principles of the Transformational and Charismatic Leadership styles, one can enhance the performance of the troops by showing them how personal responsibility can coexist with initiative and innovativeness. Therefore, with the emphasis on integrity as the foundational criterion for building a leadership framework, one can attain impressive success in managing the performance, behaviors, and attitudes of the troops.
Department of the Army. (2015). ADP 6-22: Army leadership and the profession. U.S. Department of the Army.
DiBenigno, J. (2018). Anchored personalization in managing goal conflict between professional groups: The case of US Army mental health care. Administrative Science Quarterly, 63(3), 526-569. Web.
Placek, S. B., Franklin, B. R., & Ritter, E. M. (2019). A cross-sectional study of emotional intelligence in military general surgery residents. Journal of Surgical Education, 76(3), 664-673. Web.
Novikov, V. (2017). Spiritual leadership within an army acquisition program management context. Journal of Leadership, Accountability, and Ethics, 14(2), 81-94.
Roberts, R. (2018). Twelve principles of modern military leadership. NCO Journal, 1-8.
Sewell, G. F. (2009). Emotional intelligence and the army leadership requirements model. Military Review, 89(6), 93-98.
The sergeants major of the army: On leadership and the profession of arms. (1996). Association of the United States Army.