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Leader Development in Army Units

Leader Development in Army Units: Views from the Field

Peter Schirmer
James C. Crowley
Nancy E. Blacker
Richard R. Brennan
Henry A. Leonard
J. Michael Polich
Jerry M. Sollinger
Danielle M. Varda
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 176
  • Book Info
    Leader Development in Army Units
    Book Description:

    Summarizes discussions with over 450 Army officers (lieutenants through colonels) about leader development in Army units. These discussions revealed that the type and extent of leader development activities vary greatly across units, but that they are generally informal and most heavily influenced by the unit commander. The authors conclude with suggestions on how the Army school system can improve leader development.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4588-1
    Subjects: Political Science, History, Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The Army, like almost every business and organization, makes experience the cornerstone of its leader development process. Army careers are designed around a series of assignments of increasing scope and responsibility that progressively build experience. The fundamental experience for a soldier is an operational assignment. The early part of an officer’s career is spent in an operational unit, with the officer performing the duties of his or her basic branch. Army leaders consistently report that the largest contribution to their development comes from operational assignments.

    Soldiers in an operational assignment train constantly to improve collective and individual job performance. Training...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Study Participants and Methods
    (pp. 7-18)

    This chapter describes the officers who participated in this study and the methods by which information was collected and analyzed. The pillars of this project were paper questionnaires and face-to-face discussions with 466 Army officers, from lieutenants to colonels. We also reviewed the academic and doctrinal literature and interviewed experts in the field of leader development. Readers who only wish to skim this chapter should look at Table 2.1, which lists the numbers and sources of study participants. Those same readers should also keep in mind when reading subsequent chapters that the officers referred to as “junior captains” were basically...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Overview of Unit-Level Leader Development
    (pp. 19-30)

    In this chapter we present a summary of what junior officers do for leader development in operational units and what they find most valuable. We found that there is no standard leader development program in operational units, but attempting to impose one would do little good. Unit commanders, whose influence on leader development programs is discussed in the next chapter, decide what to do based on unit circumstances and their own strengths and priorities. Junior leaders say that after operational experience itself, the most effective leader development occurs through interaction with role models, mentors, and peers. This is similar to...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Commander’s Influence on Unit-Level Leader Development Activities
    (pp. 31-40)

    Personal factors are important in all echelons of command. In 2004, the Army War College prepared a study of four Army divisions that had recently returned from Iraq and concluded that “the personal leadership style of the Division Commander remains a unique, significant factor in determining the quality of the command climate.”¹ At the battalion level, the unit commander’s influence is without question the single most important factor determining the content, frequency, and perceived quality of leader development activities. Unit leaders—especially battalion and squadron commanders—have an enormous influence on the development of junior officers. In our discussions with...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Counseling, Coaching, and Mentoring
    (pp. 41-52)

    Counseling, coaching, and mentoring are the principal means by which commanders develop leaders.Army Leadership(FM 6-22) provides definitions and guidelines for each. Leaders counsel by reviewing with a subordinate the subordinate’s demonstrated performance and potential. Coaching tends to focus on skills and tasks. Mentoring occurs through a developmental relationship between a person of greater experience and a person of lesser experience.Army Leadershipdefines different types of counseling: Event counseling covers a specific event or situation; performance counseling reviews a subordinate’s duty performance during a specific period of time; professional counseling has a developmental orientation and assists subordinates in...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Specific Elements of Leader Development Programs
    (pp. 53-60)

    The previous chapters addressed key themes in the Army’s unit-level leader development programs. This chapter addresses specific activities and events that might compose a formal leader development program.

    We tried to have some measure of the degree to which leadership lessons are taught via training by asking, “During the time you were assigned to your former unit, were leadership lessons (such as those you listed at the beginning of the survey) embedded in training exercises, such as weapons training, FTXs, CPXs, MAPEXs, TEWTs, etc.? Please circle the best answer.” The responses show that these training exercises were a modest means...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 61-72)

    This chapter summarizes our conclusions based on the questionnaire and interview results and presents our recommendations for how the Army might approach improving its leader development programs.

    Army leader development is healthy but could be improved. The questionnaire and discussion findings make it clear that substantial leader development takes place in Army units, but it is equally clear that content, frequency, and perceived quality vary significantly. Some of the variance is due to different circumstances of the units. What they do during routine peacetime training varies from what they do as they prepare for deployment, and that differs from what...

  16. APPENDIX A Junior Officer Questionnaire
    (pp. 73-86)
  17. APPENDIX B Leadership Qualities That Junior Officers Most Admire and Wish to Emulate
    (pp. 87-90)
  18. APPENDIX C Lessons Learned by Junior Officers from Good and Bad Examples of Army Leadership
    (pp. 91-134)
  19. APPENDIX D Sample Battalion Commander Development Form
    (pp. 135-140)
  20. APPENDIX E Brief Review of Other Studies of Leader Development
    (pp. 141-146)
  21. References
    (pp. 147-150)