Modern leadership training models are often based on copying techniques that have worked in the past. However, old attitudes today can be irrelevant, useless, and even harmful. According to the American business guru Yitzhak Adizes, the main task of a leader is to make decisions, despite the lack of information, and ensure their implementation (Adizes, 2018). A leader who does not deal with change is just a bureaucrat. At the same time, planning does not mean imagining what to do tomorrow; planning means deciding what needs to be done right now, taking into account the company’s expectations from tomorrow.
This style of leadership is closest to the military-style of leadership since it is this style that presupposes the rapid adoption of effective decisions in conditions of high uncertainty. A good leader must understand the potential of each subordinate and be able to make sure that everyone is aware of their value, and the team can look at the business broadly and understand the problems globally. Classical leadership models usually focus on describing the “large” universal competencies of a leader, such as leadership vision, ability to motivate, and communication. However, what is important for the leader in each specific situation, and here the experience of military leaders can be of invaluable help. The conditions of modern hybrid wars are the best way to instill leadership qualities in military commanders and ordinary soldiers. The military is one of the spheres in which leadership is the most crucial element of success.
In particular, the logic of strategy and counter-strategy used by the opposing sides in the preparation for and during a hybrid war should be built taking into account the nonlinear configuration of strategic forces and capabilities. The strategy of modern conflicts, based on a combination of a wide range of various forms and methods of struggle, contains a large number of meanings. In this regard, military researchers write that journalists almost every day give the wars of the future new names: three-dimensional, networked, asymmetric, contactless, informational, etc. (Wither, 2016). All these elements will take place, they reflect one of the characteristic features of military confrontation, but none of them individually characterizes the appearance of the war as a whole. Likewise, the modern business environment is extremely complex and dynamic, and competitive wars today have become “hybrid” ones, where patent wars are combined with cooperation. In such conditions, it seems appropriate to widely involve the Post 9/11 and previous veterans to cooperate with business organizations in coaching and practical realization of leadership experience and best practices that they acquired during their military service.
The study implies the following questions:
- What are the specific leadership traits of military veterans?
- What leadership styles are the most effective in military leadership?
- What are the potential challenges of former military officers when starting coaching and work in business companies?
- What can be possible combinations and convergence of transformational leadership and military leadership?
- What is the potential impact of military culture on corporate culture and HRM practices?
- What are the possibilities of using military leadership tools and paradigms in diversity management?
Targeted Selected Organization
The targeted organization is ThreatTec – a contracted company working for the TRADOC G2. The data will be collected from ThreatTec contracted employees, who are veterans, working for the TRADOC. The core mission of the company is to help “improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of individuals, teams, and leaders within the U.S. Military, U.S. Allies, and First Responders throughout the world” (ThreatTec, 2020). It provides simulations of mission-specific training, to form the experience gained in live “trial and error” based learning for military servicemen. Thus, while carrying out activity in the military segment, ThreatTec is of interest also as a company with established leadership practices and knowledge management. The primary focus for data collection will be TRADOC contracted employees that are veterans, supervisors of veterans, and senior executives’ officers from Threat Tec and its secondary companies support the TRADOC G2 organization.
In general, it should be noted that established on July 1, 1973, the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is the primary command of the United States Army headquartered in Fort Eustis, Virginia. It is responsible for training troops and developing an operational doctrine. TRADOC operates 37 schools and centers in 27 different locations. TRADOC Schools offer 1,304 courses and 108 language courses. 1,304 courses include 516,000 places (permanent, on-site, and distributed training) for 443,231 soldiers; 36 145 other service personnel; 8,314 international soldiers; and 28,310 civilians (The United States Army, 2019). The current commander of TRADOC summarizes its functions as an organization for the design, development, and construction of the army. TRADOC is currently the second most important main command of the United States Army, after the mainland command of the United States. It is responsible for the following questions:
- Development of the organizational and staff structure of formations and units (headquarters and commands), the development of new forms and methods of conducting combat operations;
- Determination of requirements for R&D for the creation of advanced types of weapons and military equipment; drawing up programs for operational training of headquarters and combat training (individual and within subunits) of formations and units;
- Development and publication of field charters, manuals, instructions, teaching aids, and reference books;
- Coordination of the activities of training centers, schools of the combat arms, and services for joint scientific research work (R&D) in the field of integration of issues of training and combat use of ground forces;
- Management of military educational institutions, and so on.
The Characteristics and Dynamics of the Selected Organization
Today, hybrid military conflicts of a non-classical nature with the participation of armed formations of non-state actors, including international terrorism, private military companies, which are characterized by a vague national and ideological affiliation, are fully characterized by multidimensionality. The ratio of military and non-military methods of action used by the parties to conflicts is changing. Non-military means of violence in hybrid warfare include traditional and public diplomacy, legal economic, ideological-psychological, informational, humanitarian, intelligence, technological, and some other instruments of influence (Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives, 2017). A correctly chosen strategy allows for achieving a cumulative, systemic effect from the use of a combination of all these means. An important role is played by strategic psychological measures aimed at providing support and cooperation with friendly and neutral countries, as well as weakening the will to wage war and the potential of hostile states.
Thus, now, the American way of warfare must evolve and adapt. TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1 rightly points out that “Simultaneously, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, hypersonics, machine learning, nanotechnology, and robotics are driving a fundamental change in the character of war” (TRADOC, 2018, p. i). Accordingly, the Army must evolve force and operations around three core paradigms (TRADOC, 2018):
- Calibrated force posture integrates position and the ability to maneuver in frames of strategic distances.
- Multi-domain formations are characterized by the capacity, endurance, and capability to evaluate and use capabilities across all domains to suggest multiple and compounding dilemmas on the adversary.
- Convergence allows the achievement of the rapid and continuous integration of all domains across time, space, and capabilities to suppress the enemy.
In a political-military context, the concept of “hybrid war” can unite a wide range of actions carried out by the enemy using military and irregular formations with the simultaneous involvement of civilian components. In the works of experts, there is a concept close to this – “war of controlled chaos” (Wither, 2016). The high dynamics of the development of hybrid warfare methods confront the organization with the complex tasks of quickly reformatting processes and approaches, which is possible only if there is effective leadership. ThreatTec provides training on skills necessary for participation in hybrid warfare, thus the choice of the targeted organization seems to be rational.
Academic and Practitioner-based Literature Supporting the Proposed Research Problem
Leadership is one of the most controversial topics in organizational behavior. In the public consciousness, the concepts of “leader” and “manager” practically do not differ. However, the people in these positions in the organization tend to perform different functions and therefore must have different characteristics. Leadership is the ability to influence individuals and groups, uniting them and directing their actions to induce them to act to achieve goals, the ability to influence a person, a group, directing them to achieve the goals of the organization, the ability to achieve a task with the help of other people. Leadership is the art of getting more from people than they think they can give. A mandatory component is the group’s willingness to accept and support the leader’s actions (Steadman, 2018). These are the qualities that effective military leaders today have. They skillfully combine administrative methods with the creation of a culture of participation. Post 9/11 combat veterans acquired invaluable experience in leadership, including in its transformational paradigm, during such operations as Desert Storm.
Robert Kiyosaki writes in his book 8 Lessons in military leadership for entrepreneurs (2919): “In traditional schools, we are taught to write tests and take exams ourselves. Collaborating with someone during testing will be considered cheating. At the academy, the flight school, and the marines, we are taught to cooperate and take many exams as a whole team. In the Marine Corps, even a sniper is supposed to have an assistant (spotter) who “shows where to shoot” (Kiyosaki, 2015, p. 34). Kiyosaki emphasizes that military leaders use the mission as their incentive, while corporate leaders see money as their primary incentive. Thus, one of the main skills of military veterans that can be successfully applied in business is teamwork skills.
This study will attempt to examine the direct transition of military leadership traits into civilian organizations while systematization of transferable traits desirable in business. Therefore, the adaptation of the study would propose specific strategies to efficiently integrate and utilize Post 9/11 combat veterans’ intrinsic leadership experiences in their transition into a civilian business environment. The study suggests the inclusion of empirical research based on quantitative methods – interviews, observation, and surveys, to identify transferable traits in veterans suitable to be applied in business, as well as potential challenges and benefits both for the companies and for Post 9/11 veterans. It is assumed that a combination of qualitative research methods will enable a deep understanding of the issue context, research questions, and allow the developing best solutions.
Adizes (2015). Conversations with Ceo’s. EmbassyBooks.
Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives (2017). The evolution of hybrid warfare and key challenges. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Kiyosaki, R. (2015). 8 Lessons in military leadership for entrepreneurs. Plata Publishing.
Marques, J., & Dhiman, S. (2017). Leadership today: Practices for personal and professional performance. Springer.
Steadman, A. (2018). The military leader: Fundamental insight for developing leaders. WestBow Press.
ThreatTec (2020). About us. Web.
The United States Army (2019). The U.S. Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World: 2020-2040 TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1. Web.
Wither, J. (2016). Making sense of hybrid warfare. Connections, 15(2), 73-87.