Reflecting on Military Leadership - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
Now Reading
Reflecting on Military Leadership

Reflecting on Military Leadership

My father was a military man and ran our house as such. Even into adulthood, the only acceptable way to address him was, “Sir.” When I entered the workforce in 1989, the military heavily influenced the practice of leadership. It was command-and-control. When my boss said jump, I said, “how high and how many times, sir?” For years this is how I saw military leadership.

Recently, my business partners in New Zealand (both former military) sent me an article about the reflections of senior officers in the Australian Army after they had been through an advanced leadership course. Their answers surprised me. Pleasantly so. Here are a few of the ones that were most impactful to me.

Kindness is not really a fashionable word in the military. But it’s just as important to be kind as to be right. When things are really grim, you will survive through the kindness of others. And your small, everyday acts of kindness towards others can save lives. If in doubt – be kind. Colonel Renee Kidson

Delegate! The most important leadership lesson I learned as a CO is that you can’t do it all, and you have to rely on your team. Delegate to the point of discomfort and then just beyond. Trust your subordinates. Tell them what you want to achieve, not how. They will surprise you with their ingenuity, creativity, and capability. They will grow in confidence, and your confidence in them will grow. Whilst you can delegate the task, you can’t delegate the responsibility – own it and free your team to knock it out of the park! Colonel Robin Smith

This is a distillation from three decades of leading, learning and following.

Leadership must be purposeful. Leaders illuminate purpose for those they lead. 

Purpose, which can vary, should be underpinned by the organization’s enduring Why – its raison d’être.

Leaders must know the organization’s Why, understand their own, and enable teams to find and own theirs. These three should comfortably align. 

Why, you ask Dear Reader? 

People achieve more knowing the purpose of their actions and the ends sought: And those with a Why will endure any what or how. Colonel Charles Weller

See Also

One of the most important leadership lessons is that leadership is not about you, your individual glory or your individual success. The old adage “your people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” remains true. Empathetic leaders build successful teams by valuing and harnessing how each individual’s diverse and unique life experiences can contribute to team success. Lieutenant Colonel Travis Day

Kindness. Purpose. Empathy. Caring. These are not words I would typically associate with the rough-and-tumble world of the military. These are ideas more aligned with the concept of “Servant Leadership.” Not the leader at the top of the pyramid giving orders, but at the base supporting everyone else. It is not, “Here is what I want you to do.” It is instead, “What can I do to help you?” This is the true spirit of leadership, and I am delighted to see it so clearly stated by these senior military officers.


By John Spence.

Copyright © 2020 by Guide to Greater Tampabay | Powered by TheRipal

Scroll To Top