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- Be a Soldier -

A Position Paper on

Leadership Theory in the Canadian Forces

WO M. Chiviendacz, CD

Table of Contents

1. Introduction *

2. Leadership, The Principles And Management *

2.1 Lead By Example *

2.2 Seek And Accept Responsibility *

2.3 Appreciate Your Strengths And Limitations And Strive For Self Improvement *

2.4 Know Your Troops And Promote Their Welfare *

2.5 Train Your Followers As A Team And Employ Them To Their Capabilities *

2.6 Make Sound And Timely Decisions *

2.7 Achieve Professional Competence *

2.8 Ensure Your Followers Know Your Meaning And Intent And Lead Them To Accomplish The Mission *

2.9 Develop The Leadership Potential In Your Followers *

2.10 Keep Your Followers Informed Of The Mission, The Changing Situation And The Overall Picture *

3. The Four New Principles *

3.1 Treat Your Subordinates In A Fair, But Firm, Manner *

3.2 Allow Subordinates To Have Ownership Of The Team's Effort *

3.3 Help Subordinates To Realize That They Contribute To The Team's Performance *

3.4 Be A Soldier And Encourage Your Subordinates To Do Likewise *

4. Summary *

1. Introduction

This paper presents views on leadership, in the Canadian Forces (CF), with an eye towards what can be done to alter our approaches and styles to improve it. It represents leadership and management as two separate parts of the job of a military leader. The viewpoint from which this paper is written is that we, as leaders, already posses all of the information and guidance required to, effectively, discharge our duties, we just have to apply this information.

The definition of leadership, the ten principles of leadership espoused by the CF and the difference between leadership and management are presented as a starting point from which the rest of the document flows. Four additional principles of leadership are proposed for inclusion in the future as is a new definition of leadership. The discussion of leadership principles in this paper are based upon the acceptance of the expanded definition of leadership.

After initial presentation, each of the ten principles is discussed further as are the four additional ones.

This paper will try to illustrate the author's feeling that we, as leaders, have forgotten or have chosen to ignore the principles and values that made us leaders in the first place. The paper makes, very, clear the opinion that these principles and values must be brought back to the fore and integrated into our decision making processes and into the day to day execution of our duties.

The paper includes a summary that concludes, from the previous sections, that leadership must remain an art and that by making it a scientific endeavor, we reduce its effectiveness. This paper tries to create the, lasting, impression that to lead soldier we must change their impressions about themselves and about us and we must be soldiers ourselves.

Throughout this document the terms his, him, he, her and she should be considered to be interchangeable and to include reference to persons of either gender.

This paper is written from several, unique, perspectives. First, it is written from a Canadian perspective. Second, it is written from a Warrant Officer's perspective. Third, it is written from a Primary Reservist's perspective. All viewpoints, opinions, examples and observations are those of the author, unless otherwise noted. Any errors or omissions are those of the author.

2. Leadership, The Principles And Management

The CF defines leadership as:

"The art of influencing human behavior so as to accomplish a mission in the manner desired by the leader."

This definition is meant to adhere to the principles of "situational leadership" and is not meant to include all managerial or supervisory duties. Leadership, by this definition, requires the leader to take some action to influence his or her follower(s) to accomplish a task in a desired manner. This scenario requires a leader, one or more followers, and a task or mission. To assist leaders in the execution of their duties, the CF espouses ten principles of leadership. They are:

  1. Lead by example;
  2. Seek and accept responsibility;
  3. Appreciate your strengths and limitations and pursue self improvement;
  4. Know your troops and promote their welfare;
  5. Train your followers as a team and employ them to their capabilities;
  6. Make sound and timely decisions;
  7. Achieve professional competence;
  8. Ensure that your followers know your meaning and intent and lead them to accomplish the mission;
  9. Develop the leadership potential in your followers; and
  10. Keep your followers informed of the mission the changing situation and the overall picture.

These ten principles, particularly numbers one, six, eight and ten, also seem directed toward situational leadership.

In fact, the ten principles of leadership are not really designed to aid in the accomplishment of a particular mission. They exist to create, and maintain, an environment where subordinates continue to willingly follow the leader. This environment is necessary so that the leader can easily influence the behavior of his or her subordinates in order to accomplish future missions in the desired manner. For this reason, the definition of leadership should be changed to include this extra reference to maintaining a leadership role over ones subordinates. Suggested definitions are as follows:

The art of maintaining, and exercising, influence over the behavior of followers in order to facilitate accomplishment of tasks and missions in a manner desired by the leader

- or -

The art of maintaining, and exercising, influence over the behavior of followers in order that they perform in a manner desired by the leader.

Both of these definitions contain the, important, aspects of leadership being an art as well as the influence of human behavior so that followers act in a manner desired by the leader. But, they expand upon the initial definition by including the added concept of leadership being an on-going activity as opposed to a situational one.

By any definition then, leadership is a purely human activity involving particular "situations". Leaders, often, get involved with other activities during the day to day execution of their duties. These activities include:

  1. Material and resource management;
  2. Planning and forecasting;
  3. Budgeting financial and material resources;
  4. Planning for deployment and employment of personnel and material;
  5. Directing the efforts of formations, units and sub-units from a policy and priority point of view; and
  6. Environmental stewardship.

While all of these activities form an integral, and important, part of the duties of today's leader (both military and civilian), none of these activities is leadership. None of these activities involve influencing human behavior or accomplishment of a mission as indicated by the situational nature of leadership. In these demanding times where resources (including money and personnel) are limited, planning and proper stewardship of resources is very important and, it seems, they have become the real focus of most commanders (at the expense of true leadership). It is a grave mistake to allow this to continue. Though, effective, management and planning are the activities by which any organization is maintained, they do not constitute leadership. Without proper leadership (as detailed in the definition) and without leaders who conduct themselves according to the ten principles of leadership, no organization can long survive without endemic problems decreasing its efficiency. Armed forces, by their nature, require followers. Followers require leaders, not managers.

By ignoring the leadership part of the job ("influencing human behavior..." et al) in favor of managerial activities, commanders at all levels unintentionally decrease the operational effectiveness of the units under their command. It is a fact, established by such conflicts as Vietnam and Afghanistan, that a numerically and technologically superior force cannot hope to triumph over an adversary that is committed to their cause and led by truly inspirational leaders. Leaders (both political and military) can throw money, resources and troops at a conflict but without the proper attitude and leadership there is little hope for true success.

All elements of leadership and command can be satisfactorily dispatched by judicious application of the ten principles of leadership taught in the CF. The remainder of this document is dedicated to a discussion of these principles. The following sections are written from a personal viewpoint. Though the discussion of the principles of leadership is based, mostly, on the author's experience in the CF Primary Reserve, it applies equally well to part or full time soldiers. In addition, the author, based on his experience, contends that some new principles should be added to the old. The following four should augment the ten principles of leadership espoused by the CF:

  1. Treat subordinates in a fair, but firm, manner;
  2. Allow subordinates to have ownership of the team's effort;
  3. Help subordinates to realize that they contribute to the team's performance; and
  4. Be a soldier and encourage your subordinates to do likewise.

2.1 Lead By Example

Leaders influence their followers. The things we say, the things we do and the way we do them all set examples for our subordinates. Our followers observe us, whether they respect us or not, and use our example to determine their own actions. A leader who consistently shows up for work slovenly dressed or improperly shaven can expect that his followers will do likewise. Our behaviour sets the limits within which our followers set their own. By setting a high standard in all that we do, we send a message to our followers that this is the standard expected of them. Followers watch their leaders everyday and model their own behaviour and actions based on their observations. Followers, constantly, evaluate and re-evaluate their opinion of their leaders based on these observations. This is why leadership by example is the most important principle of all. A good example, set by the leader, ensures followers who develop and pass on good habits to their own subordinates. The, proper, application of this principle has the added effect of demonstrating to our followers that we are soldiers just like them. Followers seem to have a tendency to respect and follow leaders more easily if the leader is one of their peers. Followers of a "peer-leader" feel that he or she has a better understanding of their lot in life and will represent them more effectively when required. The feeling that a leader has the same background and experience as his or her followers gives some common ground upon which both can stand. This is the reason why Privates (Ptes) and Corporals (Cpls), often, identify more closely with their Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) than their Officers. Aside from being more visible and approachable (due to the fact that they often work side by side), all NCOs have undergone, exactly, the same training as their subordinates. The fact that they are following a peer also lets the followers know that they, too, can aspire to leadership if they work hard and maintain a high standard.

2.2 Seek And Accept Responsibility

It is a disturbing trend this principle is applied in imaginative ways by some of today's leaders. Many leaders seem more than willing to "seek and accept responsibility" when it means kudos for them such as performance pay, a promotion or a favorable posting. However, when things go wrong, some leaders refuse to step up to the plate and say "I take responsibility for that". Lieutenant Colonel (LCol) J.P. Sweetman in his article titled "Continuity: The most important part of change (or how accepting "negative information" is your "professional responsibility")" poses the obvious question (para-phrased): "If leaders benefit when their subordinates perform well, why are sanctions not applied when their subordinates do something wrong?" This is called corporate responsibility and it shows an alarming propensity of being only one-way. If troops are not confident that their leader is willing to "do the explaining" if things go wrong, they may hesitate at the moment of truth. Properly trained and disciplined troops should never be afraid that their leader will not support them when questions are asked (providing that they act upon their leader's meaning and intent and the local commander's policies and orders). Not only is it one of the main principles of leadership, it is a point of honor and integrity for a leader to accept responsibility, because (as the leader) they are responsible for the actions of their subordinates as well as their own. Along with the first principle of leadership, "lead by example", principle of leadership number two forms the basis for what all leaders must teach their subordinates. Soldiers who witness the example of their leader accepting responsibility, even when it is uncomfortable for them, will act in kind with regards to their own actions. A soldier who is willing to accept responsibility for their own actions is more likely to think them through so as to ensure that a mistake is not made. Soldiers who witness superiors dodging responsibility will not think their own actions through because they know that they can avoid being held responsible by employing deception or by using some "loop-hole". In summary of this point: leaders must accept responsibility for the results of their leadership whether good or bad. This is not only important with regards to accountability; it is the basis for the widely held belief that one of the worst things a soldier can do is lie. If there is a rare case where a soldier is not proud of their actions, at least they can be proud that they stood up and took responsibility for them.

2.3 Appreciate Your Strengths And Limitations And Strive For Self Improvement

Leaders in the CF are said to fill three roles. They are (in order):

    1. A service member;
    2. A follower; and
    3. A leader

It is a common phenomenon for humans to learn a skill (and maybe even excel at it) and then, through periods of non-use, lose the skill. This is a very common occurrence among leaders at all levels in the CF. At one point or another, all officers and Non-Commisioned Members (NCMs) of the CF have learned basic soldiering skills that represent their "reason d'Ítre". These skills include marksmanship, weapons handling, navigation and drill dress and deportment. It is hard to believe that NCMs can graduate from a Junior Leadership Course (JLC), Combat Leadership Course (CLC) or Infantry Section Commander's Course (ISCC) without demonstrating these skills to a higher than average level of proficiency. Why, then, do so many leaders no longer possess these skills? The answer is simple: A lack of constant exposure and/or poor self-motivation and initiative prevents them from keeping up to date. Principle of leadership number 3 is not a one time thing. Leaders at all levels must, constantly, be in a state of self-evaluation in an attempt to stay capable in all three of the roles that the CF has said that they must fill. Most leaders are very aware of their strengths. They are commended on their strengths and take a measure of pride in the fact that they can perform a job well. They must also be aware of their weaknesses and pursue measures of self-improvement. No leader should ever be able to use the excuse that it's not their fault they are unfamiliar with these skills because their job does not allow them to practice. A leader, realizing that their job does not allow them to practice military skills, must pursue self-improvement on their own initiative.

2.4 Know Your Troops And Promote Their Welfare

Commanders at all levels strictly enforce policies that require them to do nothing more than "give the order". This can be seen in the excellent care we provide our equipment or the environment. This care is exercised by commanders stating policy to their subordinates, and indicating that no deviation from the policy will be accepted. Examples of this are as follows:

  1. "Vehicles are not to be driven off of the roadway";
  2. "Portable toilets are to be used in lieu of 'cat sanitation':;
  3. "First, last and halt parades are to be performed on all vehicles";
  4. "Weapons are to cleaned before and after firing";
  5. "Usage time is to be marked on all radio batteries"; or
  6. "Drip pans are to be used under all vehicles no matter how long they are to be stationary".

These are common statements and the people who make them take them very seriously. They indicate that there is a great level of concern towards caring for and maintaining our resources, but most of them don't require action by commanders other than checking that they are followed. This kind of care and concern is common in commanders when it comes to maintaining all of their resources but one... human. Leaders will not accept the slightest deviation from their intent to care for their material, fiscal and environmental resources. The following is a short list of deviations that leaders, routinely, accept when it comes to care of subordinates:

  1. Soldiers going unpaid (or under paid);
  2. Travel and meal claims going unpaid for months at a time;
  3. A different standard of conduct and attendance being applied to soldiers as there is to Officers, Senior NCOs and Warrant Officers (WOs);
  4. Soldiers being instructed to conduct themselves in a certain manner when their superiors clearly are contravening these instructions in their own conduct.

Principle of leadership number four dictates that none of these things should occur. Leaders must be passionate in the discharge of their duties when it comes to caring for their subordinates. It is imperative that leaders accept it as their personal problem when one of their followers is done an injustice. We, as leaders, must accept that our soldiers are not just tools to "get the job done". Our soldiers are our greatest resource and they deserve, at least, the same care as we show toward our other resources.

Consider the following examples. These examples compare the treatment received in the case of a broken piece of equipment (a weapon) and a "broken" soldier (i.e. one with a problem). They are presented for the purpose of describing the disparity with which we treat the welfare of our equipment and our subordinates:



A range incident (without injury) resulted in a weapon being seriously damaged. A lengthy investigation was, immediately, conducted and it was determined that the Range Safety Officer (RSO) did not follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and was, therefore, largely responsible for the incident. Sanctions were awarded to the RSO. In this incident, the investigation was not concluded for several months, after which the weapon was submitted for repair. At all levels involved (including the repair organization), concern was shown as to what had happened to allow a weapon to become so damaged.

A Sr NCO complained that the continued withholding of assessments of his performance constitute an abuse of authority under Canadian Forces Administrative Orders (CFAOs). This did little to endear him to his superiors and the situation gravitated to the point where one of his superiors, allegedly, offered physical violence toward him. Complaints (through the redress of grievance process) of this incident went unresolved and the soldier's attitude consequently worsened. Through involvement in this process, the soldier's work environment became more and more unpleasant and his rate of absence increased. This resulted in a situation where his superior (the one about whom the complaint was made) denied a request for "Exemption from Drill and Training" and bent the rules to force the member to release.

Though not representing all of the facts of each case, these examples serve to illustrate the difference with which we, as leaders, regard our equipment and our subordinates. The situations described above actually occurred. The treatment received by the soldier described here is disgusting and is a reason for all parties involved to hang their heads. Soldiers must be treated fairly and cared for, regardless of personal feelings. If other soldiers are aware of this type of treatment, how can we, as leaders, expect them to trust us? Even if the superior, in the above example, had excellent reason for what he or she did, it is the perception of what happened that will influence the remaining troops. While discussing this very point with a Master Corporal (MCpl), he brought out the point that a manager can fire unsatisfactory employees while a leader cannot. A leader is obliged, by virtue of the principles of leadership, to develop their subordinates as opposed to getting rid of them. It is quit true, in terms of the support that we receive from our subordinates, that we reap what we sow. A disgruntled and unsatisfied soldier that does not respect or trust their leader will perform unsatisfactorily. A leader who sets a good example and looks out for the welfare of their troops can depend on their troops to follow, respect and support them (i.e. work as a team).

2.5 Train Your Followers As A Team And Employ Them To Their Capabilities

The CF bases it's organization, it's training strategy and it's leadership methods on the principle of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts. This is only true if the glue that binds the whole together is strong. In the CF, this glue is leadership. It is possible, through policy, to dictate that a group of individuals work together physically (i.e. in a unit). It is impossible, through policy, to dictate that a group of individuals work together mentally and emotionally. This is the job of the leader. The leader must foster an attitude in his/her subordinates whereby they are loyal to the team and work in a common direction towards a common goal (sounds strangely like "influencing human behavior to accomplish a mission in the manner desired by the leader"). Team members must be encouraged to feel that they belong and they must extend the same feeling toward the other members of the team. Team members must be aware of the principles, methods, goals and SOPs of the team and they must apply them to their work. Team members must trust each other. It is the job of the leader to make all of this happen. The team leader must create an environment where all team members will flourish. Team members must be encouraged to express themselves and find satisfaction in a job well done while still working within the framework of the team. This does not mean a loss of control for the leader. On the contrary, a leader who allows their team a bit of latitude in completion of their duties builds trust (both ways) and assures him/herself that their subordinates are competent and possess initiative. Team members, who are permitted latitude in the day to day conduct of their job, will have more job satisfaction and confidence and will not resent the occasions when the leader must assume an authoritative approach. Members of a team whose leader is always using the authoritative approach will grow to resent that they are treated like children and will, eventually, act like children.

2.6 Make Sound And Timely Decisions

As leaders, it is often our lot to make decisions about various things. Our decisions effect a lot of things: financial expenditures, availability of equipment and human lives. It is our responsibility to make sound and timely decisions. As the decision-makers, we must also take responsibility for those decisions. We make decisions every day in deciding how to approach a problem or task, who to send on a particular job and in the things that we say. In all of these cases, great care must be taken to think out the results of our decisions before they are made. After action has been taken on a decision, it is too late to think about it. Decisions must be based upon a number of things, a number far greater than can be discussed here. In general, a good guide is to consider whether or not the decision would contradict one of the principles of leadership. If it would, it is a safe bet that the decision is the wrong one (or at least warrants more thought). There is a common saying that applies well here: "Don't be sorry... be sure." Though leaders must consider the consequences of their decisions in advance of making them, they must also avoid the pitfall of becoming paralyzed by indecision. Every decision is not an opportunity for a feasibility study. Leaders must, sooner or later, be prepared to simply be decisive even if they do not have all of the information that they would like. In most cases, a bad decision is better than no decision at all. Above all, leaders must be prepared to take responsibility for their decision.

2.7 Achieve Professional Competence

By application of principle of leadership number three, "Appreciate your strengths and limitations and strive for self improvement", the leader cannot help but achieve professional competence. It must be noted here that professional competence includes the three roles, previously mentioned, of a member of the CF : The Service Member (i.e. tradesman), The Follower and The Leader. Leaders must be professionally competent in all three of these roles to have achieved professional competence.

2.8 Ensure Your Followers Know Your Meaning And Intent And Lead Them To Accomplish The Mission

This is a big one. If a subordinate is unclear on the intent of the leader, who is responsible if a task does not get completed to satisfaction? Leaders who are unclear can expect varying results from their followers. Leaders who are clear (in meaning and intent) can expect well-trained followers to execute their tasks with the desired end in mind. Just as there us a difference between the letter and the spirit of the law, there is often a difference between what a leader says and what they mean. It is the responsibility of the leader to develop their communication skills to ensure that this gap is as small as possible. Along with expressing meaning an intent, it is also the leader's responsibility to ensure that they are upheld (this is "leading your followers to completion of the mission"). The leader need not monitor his/her subordinates constantly, just enough to be confident that everybody is doing their job in accordance with the intent of the leader. In addition to this, it is the true mark of a leader that their subordinates perform according to their meaning and intent when the leader is absent. This is very important. A leader must be able to trust their followers to keep the leader's meaning and intent in mind even when the leader is not present. If a leader makes their meaning and intent clear, they will be able to allow their team members some latitude in how each performs their task, as long as the mission is accomplished in accordance with the leader's instructions. Within this principle is another aspect that some may not realize. If your followers trust you and believe that you always make your meaning and intent clear, it is important that you not lie to them. This includes such things as being dishonest about the true reason for making a decision. As an example: A leader who makes a decision for political reasons should at least have the "courage" to inform their subordinates as to the real reason for the decision instead of making up a reason that may seem more acceptable.

2.9 Develop The Leadership Potential In Your Followers

If all of the other principles of leadership are followed, this one should be fairly easy. A well trained follower already conducts themselves by the leader's example, they take responsibility at the appropriate time, they have developed a compassionate attitude due to humane treatment from their leader, they understand the importance and professional competence and self improvement and they know how to work in a team. This is all a natural occurrence of the application of the other principles of leadership. Once subordinates demonstrate that they conduct themselves according to most of the principles of leadership, allowing them to apply these principles in supervised situations is easy.

2.10 Keep Your Followers Informed Of The Mission, The Changing Situation And The Overall Picture

Followers in all walks of life have a saying that they are "Treated like mushrooms... kept in the dark and fed s**t." More and more, subordinates are required to make important decisions. If we, as leaders, do not keep them informed, we are forcing them to make decisions based upon incomplete information. By keeping our followers informed, they begin to realize that we care about their welfare and that we are listening to them. This is, particularly, true if it is a personal situation on which we are keeping them informed. What is the true benefit of having informed subordinates? Subordinates feel that they are playing a greater part in the "process" when they are kept informed and this is a desirable condition. The true benefit, though, of having informed subordinates is that they can make better decisions and take more appropriate actions when they encounter a situation where no specific information exists to guide them. By passing on as much information as possible and ensuring that our troops are informed, we empower them to do a better job when they encounter situations not specifically allowed for in the plan.

3. The Four New Principles

It was mentioned at the outset of this document that it is now time for the CF to espouse some new principles of leadership. These proposed additions are outlined here.

3.1 Treat Your Subordinates In A Fair, But Firm, Manner

This has been a long-standing guideline in the CF and is always mentioned in any discussion of leadership. It is usually mentioned as a method or action that supports one of the existing principles of leadership. This is so important that it warrants "promotion" to being a stand-alone principle. It is not enough to be fair or firm with your subordinates if the two are mutually exclusive. A leader who is not firm with a follower who warrants it is not being fair to the individual or the rest of the members. Followers will gladly accept sanctions if the leader has, in the past, proven to be fair in all other areas. A follower who believes their leader to be fair will realize that any sanctions imposed are well deserved and that they are proportional to the "offence" for which they were awarded. If a leader keeps this principle of "fairness" in mind, it will be impossible for them to show favoritism or to single out an individual for harsh treatment simply because of personality differences. Being fair, but firm, is the essence of professional leadership; and that is, after all, what we are trying to achieve.

3.2 Allow Subordinates To Have Ownership Of The Team's Effort

Ownership is the corporate word for esprit-de-corps. If team members "own" the efforts of a successful team, they will be proud of the results that they have achieved, and feel the need to improve if they did not achieve satisfactory results. The credit for the results of a team effort cannot lie, solely, with the leader of the team (even though the responsibility does). Each team member must be made to realize that if the team succeeds, they succeed and vice versa. Aside from taking a measure of pride in their personal efforts, team members must realize that without the rest of their team, their own effect is very limited. An individual infantryman can accomplish much on his own but the capabilities of a section of infantrymen is far greater than the sum of the individual capabilities of its members. By banding together in teams, humans have learned to create a resulting capability that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Members must be made to feel loyal: first to their team, then on up the line to the CF and country as a whole. They must be proud of the accomplishments of their team. If a subordinate is proud to be a member of a team, they will put forth greater effort toward that team's success. Allowing team members the freedom to "strut" a little and believe that their team is better than all of the other teams does not harm anybody and builds a healthy level of esprit-de-corps and inter-team competition. It is the leader's job to build the team and the attitudes of its members. Without esprit-de-corps, discipline, a sense of purpose, a sense of honor and a sense of family, the CF is nothing more than a well armed street gang. It is the leader's job to build all of these things and these things cannot be accomplished without the cooperation, input and efforts of the team's members.

3.3 Help Subordinates To Realize That They Contribute To The Team's Performance

To establish esprit-de-corps, team members must not only feel proud of their collective effort; they must feel proud of their own contribution to the team. A soldier must feel that they are a valuable asset to their team. They must feel free to speak their mind, at the appropriate time, and they must be prepared to accept responsibility when they let the team down. A soldier who connects his or her own efforts and performance directly with the results achieved by the team, and is proud of being a team member, will put forth a greater effort than a soldier who feels they don't make any difference or that they can succeed without the team. Their leaders must tell soldiers, that they are important and that they make a difference (good or bad) to the team's performance. Leaders and followers, both, must realize that a team is more than just a group of people working together, a team can only exist if it's members work towards a common goal using common methods and milestones. The individual's effort and the direction and methods that he or she uses dictates the success (or failure) of the team. Subordinates must be made to realize that they are important and that their input is important if the team is to succeed. They must equate their own success or failure with that of the team and vice versa to truly contribute to their full potential. A successful team effort requires the contribution of all team members and a team's failure is the failure of all of its members.

3.4 Be A Soldier And Encourage Your Subordinates To Do Likewise

Is this self-evident? The only evidence required that this has not been a guiding principle is a quick look around to see what is happening at all levels of command throughout the CF. Leaders, more and more, prefer the role of manager, boss or worse yet... politician to that of soldier. No matter what our current appointment, task or posting, we must all stop and realize that we are soldiers first. Our appointments and tasks should form our secondary duties with the duties of a soldier being foremost in our minds. Even if people have a hard time quantifying the "duties" of a soldier, surely, they can quantify the qualities or values of a soldier. This means the qualities and concepts that are invoked by the word "soldier". A few such qualities are (or at least used to be):

    1. Honor;
    2. Pride;
    3. Drive;
    4. Motivation;
    5. Initiative;
    6. Loyalty;
    7. Self-discipline;
    8. Sacrifice for the greater good;
    9. Ethics;
    10. Devotion to duty above self;
    11. Honesty;
    12. Courage;
    13. Principles;
    14. Tradition
    15. Integrity;
    16. Professionalism; and
    17. Fairness.

Can most, or all, of these words be used to describe you? It used to be that the job of being a soldier was an honor. All soldiers could be proud of their force, their unit and themselves. A lot of civilians would now laugh out loud if you mentioned the above list in connection with our force's leaders. Can we be proud of a military in which the lowest ranking Ptes use food banks to get by while senior officers receive, what many perceive as, bonus pay? Can we be proud of a military in which MCpls (the first line in leadership) have been infused with an attitude that allows them to rationalize physical abuse of a prisoner? Can we be proud of a military where careerism and lack of leadership allow the most senior leader to deny responsibility for the actions of his subordinates? Do these examples display any of the qualities, that should be, associated with the word soldier? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes", then, sadly, it is already too late. Leaders at all levels must be counted on to make the "right" decision, even when it is uncomfortable. They must be willing to accept political fall-out for what they know to be right. This is the example that we must set for our troops. Upward loyalty does not mean agreeing with your political and military masters and doing their bidding without ever voicing your own opinion. Soldiers are promoted and appointed to leadership positions because they have shown skill and the mental capacity for command. Don't short-change yourself by thinking that your own opinion is worthless. Leaders must expect that they can speak with their superiors and tell them their opinion, under appropriate conditions (even when it is a divergent opinion), and leaders must encourage an environment where their subordinates feel they can do likewise. The following is a suggested list of factors that should be considered when making decisions:

    1. Operational readiness/requirements;
    2. The Mission;
    3. Training Requirements;;
    4. The Welfare of the unit;
    5. The Welfare of the team; and
    6. The Welfare of your subordinates.

Conspicuously absent are such factors as: political expedience, to please your boss, personal gain, to curry favor, because you are afraid to present your superior with a dissenting opinion, for personal reasons and because you don't care.

The majority of decisions, especially day to day, should be based on factors four and five. The above factors appear to be separate but they are, in fact, built one upon the other. If the individual soldier's needs are met and they are taken care of, they will contribute well to the team; if the team is working well, it will contribute well to the unit etc. As in a house, the bricks and mortar in the foundation support the rest. A defect in the lowest brick in a building's foundation hazards the entire building.

If soldiers are treated like soldiers, led like soldiers and led by soldiers, they will act like soldiers. Leader's who are politicians can expect subordinates who act like politicians, biding their time, in fighting and using leverage to get ahead.

By way of an example of the loss of "soldierly values" in favor of politicization regard the following:

It is a, long standing, tradition in Army messes that the headdress be removed upon entering. This encourages politeness and is a sign of respect for those who went before us. The usual sanction for not adhering to this tradition is that a drink is to be purchased for the first member to notice the infraction. It is now not uncommon to hear such replies as "you can't make me buy you a drink" when such a request is made.

Though, legally, this position may be tenable it is a sad state of affairs when Junior Ranks feel that they can ignore tradition and convention simply because no legal precedent exists for it's enforcement. This is a statement on the politicization of the CF. This situation would not exist today if leaders, at all levels, had encouraged and demanded adherence to tradition (and the other "soldierly values" listed above), and if they had done so themselves.

Another example can be found by contemplating a quote from Marlon Brando, playing a US Army Colonel in a popular movie about the Vietnam War:

"We train young men to drop fire on people but we won't allow them to paint fuck on their airplanes because... it's obscene."

This quote may seem extreme and it may be from a fictitious situation in a Hollywood plot but it is exactly this attitude that pervades all levels of command in the CF today. We are trying to create a non-offensive, non-aggressive image for our military. Is this the right way to go or is it just politics? It is politics. War is offensive, killing and dying are offensive, and fighting is aggressive. We should work toward a military that is professional, well trained and prepared, well disciplined and above all... aggressive. Commanders must let their subordinates develop aggressive (yet civilized) attitudes. Politicians should worry about explaining this to civilians who find it offensive... military leaders should not.

To summarize this proposed principle, regard the following prose by author George L. Skyperk:

"I was that which others did not want to be. I went where others feared to go and did what others feared to do.

I asked nothing from those who gave nothing and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness should I fail.

I have seen the face of terror, felt the stinging cold of fear. And enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment's love.

I have cried, pained and hoped. But most of all, I have lived times others would say are best forgotten.

At least some day I will be able to say I was proud of what I was... A Soldier."

This verse invokes the very things about which a soldier may be proud:

    1. Answering the call to duty;
    2. Survival in the face of adversity;
    3. The realization that little thanks will be offered for their service but the will to perform it none the less; and
    4. The realization that they are special and perform a duty few others would be willing to.

Soldiers who are proud of their vocation feel like this all of the time. Office workers may not, politicians may not, but soldiers do. Act like a soldier, lead like a soldier, and encourage your subordinates to be soldiers and be proud of it.

4. Summary

In summary, very few new methods and approaches are required. If the ten existing principles of leadership are enforced and followed, and the four proposed principles are adopted, leadership problems would quickly disappear. This requires more than statements, conferences and policy papers. The application of leadership principles is a human endeavor. Leaders must lead. They cannot simply write about it, they cannot simply think and ponder it, they must do it. It is time for leaders, at all levels, to "shoot the foot" and "drive the body". Leadership does not require a lot of high-minded theories or doctoral dissertations. Leadership and it's principles were developed centuries before psychology, psychiatry, team-dynamics, interpersonal communication theories and the like. Leadership is as old as mankind. By trying to turn leadership into a science, we turn away from the original definition which has it applied as an art. All attempts at institutionalizing leadership theory and approach overlook the simple fact that human beings will gladly follow anybody who inspires them, who cares about them, who actively leads them, whom they respect and who is one of them. If leaders can do all of these things, then their subordinates will follow them no matter if they are scientists or laymen, noble or peasant, scholars or not. Good artists love and live their work, they inspire with it. Those aspiring to the art of leadership must do the same.

Copyright© WO M. Chiviendacz, CD