Comparing Military Vs. Civilian Leadership
Leadership styles refer to the approach that team leaders give to a particular group of people to implement plans and accomplish set goals by providing direction. Leaders carry out various roles, such as training and educating young leaders in their organizations. According to Kellerman (2018), teaching people how to lead is considered the world’s oldest profession. She believes that good leadership requires the leader to build a relationship with their followers. It also requires them to apply leadership styles as a form of training. Both the military and civilian companies teach and grow leaders through the use of different leadership styles. However, their leadership styles differ in many aspects. This paper will compare leadership style in how the U.S military teaches and grows leaders compared to civilian companies. It will also look at the type that provides better leadership training.
Leadership in the military includes transactional and transformational leadership styles (Gonzales,2016). Transactional refers to those leaders who are in charge of giving orders. At the same time, transformational leadership involves leaders convincing subordinates to put the organization’s needs first before their own needs. It also requires them to follow orders without questioning the authority. Transformational leadership consists of a team leader’s role in ensuring the growth of his/her subordinates. Studies show that transformational leadership, as applied in the military, results in positive associations that yield better results among the associates (Gonzales,2016). The leaders are also able to build identities with their respective teams. Subordinates can find satisfaction in their training, enabling them to develop into great leaders. At the same time, it allows superiors to instill values in young leaders at an early stage. Conducting leadership training in the initial stages makes transformational leadership effective in producing the most capable leaders.
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Contrastingly, transactional leaders focus on giving commands to subordinates. When a leader issues an order, the assistant can perform the assigned task and gain more experience. Transactional leadership, as opposed to transformational leadership, is more concerned with commitment than job satisfaction. Training subordinates using this method also proves to be effective during training but results in decreased performance compared to transformational training, especially since the assistants may experience a decrease in attitude towards the supervisor (Gonzales,2016). This type of leadership style can, therefore, have adverse consequences during leadership training. It also leads to a decrease in the level of workplace cohesion. Decreased levels in workplace cohesion create an unfavorable environment for both superiors and subordinates. Increasing the levels of cohesion during training will result in quality performance and bring up influential leaders who can transfer better leadership skills to the next group of trainees in the military.
In the U.S Army, the leaders are trained in a way that allows them to apply different leadership styles, therefore making military leadership unique (Gonzales,2016). Compared to civilian companies, the military takes time to groom the soldiers. Individuals in the military become qualified in their duties as they carry and learn leadership skills during training. By examining the military structure, it is evident that it is a type of hierarchy. The reason behind it is that there is a clear distinction between the superiors and the subordinates. Individuals are categorized based on their ranks. Their bosses give the subordinates tasks and instructions that they must follow and show respect by completing each task as instructed by their leaders. This type of leadership works based on giving commands, and it is a type of authoritative leadership style.
The military focuses on leadership development through training. Subordinates are carefully trained and guided on how to complete missions. They are also trained on how to handle difficult situations. The training process allows the growth of the team members in developing leadership skills and values. The military structure will enable individuals in training to move up in a rank after completion of training to gain responsibility. The superiors are tasked with teaching and training their subordinates on leadership skills to groom them for promoting them to higher ranks that will require them to apply the appropriate leadership styles.
During training, some individuals demonstrate high levels of leadership characteristics than others. Their different personality traits may facilitate or influence some individuals to be more suitable in leadership roles than others (Gonzales,2016). Each person’s personality plays a vital role as a high determinant of leadership potential and outcome after training. During leadership training, the superiors can evaluate each member’s potential by looking at common leadership traits. Therefore, superiors can select candidates that can exhibit high levels of leadership potential.
Some leadership styles used by superiors in the military allow subordinates to follow through with the leaders’ examples. Such characteristics fall under the decisive and action-oriented leadership style (Gonzales,2016). Most team members seek this type of leadership style since it makes them satisfied with their leaders and their training methods by setting up good examples that can be emulated by them. Some of these traits the leaders possess include careful processing of decisions and high natural decision-making levels.
According to Schein (2016), most civilian companies make assumptions about appropriate ways to train their leaders without bringing in any outside assistance. He further states that most civilian companies’ leaders send conflicting signals to their organizations in a situation whereby they have not faced their own internal and unconscious conflicts. This leadership style reflects on the leader’s biases and unconscious conflicts (Schein, 2016). Schein gives recommendations on this type of technique by stating that leaders need to encourage others while remaining open to critical information. Most organizations fail to consider their teams’ needs when they are not directly involved or when it does not affect the organization’s image.
In his book, Schein describes three defensive responses that are a result of the change in companies. The difference involves learning anxiety among the members who are experiencing growth. The defensive reactions consist of denial, scapegoating, and maneuvering. In most cases, civilian organizations’ leadership styles fail to provide psychological safety. Such can be accomplished through proper training, engaging in support groups, and training the members. Members of the organization also require guidance on how to handle change.
Schein further describes the leadership styles of most companies as cultural and multi-faceted. According to his theory concerning culture and leadership, it is evident that group learning plays an essential role in leadership building. He believes that through socialization, members can learn the organizational culture. As leaders, they can be made aware of a group’s consciousness in training and see how each member aligns with it. Some civilian companies end up giving regular practices to their members. They fail to institute appropriate methods necessary to assist members of their groups in dealing with anxiety, resulting in individuals seeking ways of excavating their subconscious beliefs.
The Most Effective Leadership Between the Military and Civilian Leadership
Military leadership is better and more effective in teaching and growing leaders than civilian companies in many aspects. First of all, military training focuses on producing great leaders compared to civilian companies that focus more on organizational performance (Schein, 2016). Military leaders aim to create influential leaders who can take over their leadership roles by providing a platform for them to get higher ranks. They take time to build relationships with their subordinates, enabling them to implement their leadership skills effectively.
The military leaders’ training is based on the subordinates’ responsibility and ensuring that they master leadership skills. They value individual training since they are accountable for how the associates will handle challenging missions. They end up implementing the best leadership styles to produce influential leaders as compared to civilian companies. According to Kellerman (2018), good leadership requires the leader to lead by example, as seen in military training. The military’s leadership styles make them unique and better compared to how the civilian companies teach and educate their members concerning leadership.
Missing Leadership Styles
Military leadership and civilian leadership are both missing a democratic leadership style. The democratic type of style involves a leader seeking the opinion of his or her subordinates. They seek to consider the view of the deputies while making decisions. The benefit of this type of leadership style is that it promotes team spirit and builds on trust between a leader and his followers. It also allows subordinates to do what needs to be done as per instruction from the superiors and give them a chance to use methods that put their needs into consideration. Both military and civilian companies can work towards applying the democratic leadership style.
Civilian leadership lacks an affiliative type of leadership style. This technique allows the people’s needs to come first, such as training leaders for individual benefit rather than an organizational advantage. The affiliative type involves the leaders working on ways to be close to his or her team members. Such a leader can pay attention to the emotional needs of the individual team member. This style encourages harmony and is very useful in the case of conflict in the organization. It can significantly improve the performance of the individual members and enable them to develop into great leaders. It can also boost the confidence of each individual member.
In a nutshell, leaders are responsible for bringing up influential leaders who can take over after them in military and civilian companies. The leaders need to apply the appropriate leadership styles to meet the set goals and objectives. By comparing military leadership and civilian leadership, we can conclude that military leadership styles are more effective in teaching and growing leaders. The military is mainly focused on the individuals and enabling them to become influential leaders, while in civilian companies, the main goal is to meet the organizational goals and objectives. The methods used by such companies lead to the organization’s growth but fail to meet the aim of training and educating leaders. Besides, both military and civilian leadership lacks a democratic leadership style. Civilian leadership also needs to put the individual needs of members into consideration.
Gonzales, J. (2016). Leadership Styles in Military Settings and Their Influences on Program Satisfaction.
Kellerman, B. (2018). Professionalizing leadership. Oxford University Press.
Schein, E. (2016). Organizational Culture and Leadership, 5th ed. New York: Wiley.