This research project will be used to investigate the current leadership styles employed by the hierarchical leadership within the MOD and RAF. This will include an in-depth study of Strategic, Tactical and Operational leadership from a historical perspective and will mainly focus on transformational, transactional and servant leadership styles. With a view of identifying the most favourable solution to engender a positive working environment across all ranks.
Leadership is acknowledged to be one of the most important areas of today’s Royal Air Force and the UK Armed Forces with numerous courses delivered on an annual basis by all three services for all personnel no matter the rank they hold. However, on the whole it still remains primarily a hypothetical theory that is chiefly summarised by universal features than its overall effects. Basically, it is more than the sum of its parts. Nowadays, doctrine outlines leadership by the means of the process of motivating all personnel to complete a given task by offering purpose (Sewell, 2005). Nevertheless, when scrutinising leadership within the military there appears numerous basic precepts that should be considered generic to every leadership circumstance and in the end these will often define a leader’s actions. These should be considered as the led, the leader, the situation and finally communications (Army. 2006).
These day-to-day generic guidelines should be scrutinised as a means of ascertaining and analysing this original thought, with this usually coming under the overall heading of ‘operational leadership’. This should then be assessed through a number of basic concepts such as mentoring (otherwise known as the led), vision (the leader) and finally organisational culture/command (situation and communications). Prior to the examination of operational leadership the basic concepts of military leadership should also be thoroughly assessed.
The UK military’s future focus is generally considered to be known as the commander’s vision which will be set by the standing Chief of Defence Staff when taking office (MOD. 2015.). This is generally considered to be a leader’s personal opinion of what the overall organisation must be capable of accomplishing at any given point of time in the future and will also take into account the government’s strategic outlook. Ultimately, this represents an overall focal point against which organisational success should be calculated. In addition, vision also provides a means for an organisation to develop, mentor and finally foster a positive organisational culture that is considered to be operationally focused and healthy.
Organisational culture should be considered as a shared feeling or understanding amongst all members of an organisation about what life is like within that organisation. The overall culture within an organisation is directly correlated to its overall general success. Consequently, through my research I determined that a healthy culture will also encourage an overall sense of sharing and ownership of the organisations inclusive obligations. The capability of an organisation to resist outside pressures is commonly borne of a shared culture, that is of common norms and values. The modelling of an organisation’s culture to maximise and capitalise on the overall success of many of its diverse elements (at the operational level) is an important aspect of operational leadership. A means of nurturing an operationally effective and vigorous organisational culture is generally through the process of apportioning experience and knowledge through mentorship.
Mentoring is the process of nurturing and cultivating leaders through teaching, coaching, counselling, and informal interaction. The concept of assumed learning is not new; nevertheless, it does require reemphasising as it links to mentoring. The intricacy of the modern fields of battle demand more than technical and tactical proficiency that can be acquired through schooling and day-to-day training; it demands experience gleaned either directly or vicariously through mentorship programs.
The very essence of leadership at the operational level is to be considered as the merging of tactical events within overall organisational strategic aims. Operational art should be considered as the sequencing of a series of associated operations which will in the end compromise a campaign designed to secure a strategic objective. The blending of operational art and operational leadership is accomplished though the formation and sustainment of commonly focused operations influenced by way of the leaderships vision and should be maintained through the mentoring (the led) and organisational culture (the situation and communications).
Leadership at all levels requires a thorough understanding of the overall dynamics of war. This consideration is more than just procedural and tactical proficiency. An accurate understanding of war is realised through the analysis of both history and theory, as well as a prolonged endeavor of education, training, and finally experience. Leadership is a union of these and other fundamentals, hence it is considered difficult, but, not implausible to assess the overall effectiveness of leadership where no one component is considered always dominant. Consequently, operational leadership is not the result of a finite acquisition of these traits or characteristics, but rather, a continuous, learning and adaption of these processes.
This research project will be used to investigate the current leadership styles employed by the hierarchical leadership within the MOD and RAF. This will include an in-depth study of Strategic, Tactical and Operational leadership that will also take into account a historical perspective. In addition, this will also focus on the more modern leadership styles employed within the RAF such as transformational, transactional and servant. With an overall view of identifying the most favourable solution to engender a positive working environment across all ranks.
To achieve the aim of this research project the objectives are:
- Detail the phases of the dissertation to ascertain a successful conclusion.
- Conduct an extensive review of literature on leadership within the Military.
- Evaluate Leadership at the Strategic, Tactical and Operational levels from a historical perspective identifying the styles by key political and military figures.
- Define key aspects of Project.
- Switch focus to now where I will be looking to observe a Jnr Leadership Cse at RAF Boulmer, focusing mostly on the leadership styles that are taught to the next generation of junior leaders (JNCOs).
- Observe specific CRC Flt meetings, especially the conversations relating to team working processes and issues of team management.
- Conduct an interview with as many personnel as possible, especially those personnel involved in either the Jnr Leadership Cse or Flt meetings.
- Distribute a questionnaire to CRC personnel, with a purpose of gathering statistical data from respondents on the best leadership styles currently employed within the CRC and RAF. In relation to the RAF aspect, I will draw on the wealth of experience from Out of Area detachments. Furthermore, where possible I will look at background (upbringing) of Service personnel to see whether this correlates to issues identified with specific leadership styles.
- Observe a wide area review of RAF leadership abilities taught at either RAF College Cranwell or Airmans Command School (ACS) at RAF Halton where I intend to conduct interviews with personnel on leadership. In the event that this cannot be achieved I will conduct interviews with personnel currently conducting Phase 2/3 training at RAF Boulmer.
- Undertake a situational analysis of all findings, interviews and questionnaires.
- Discuss any future research if necessary.
- Devise an extensive research project that combines all of my findings from the relevant theory and my previous research findings with the results.
1– Project Planning
To make this project work there needed to be access to a number of working digital platforms that could be analysed for performance and then examined for improvement and development. The project has been made possible by the work of the author and his employment as the Head of Digital Communications in the Royal Air Force. Access to digital platforms, which include internet, intranet and social media have been made available and various performance statistics, have been made analysed over a number of years, although the statistics in this dissertation generally reach back just over a year.
The main website of interest is the RAF Internet (www.raf.mod.uk), which is a highly popular website that has been running for a number of years and received just over 75 million page views from 1-09-2010 to 31-08-2011. The site has an upper corporate structure and then has around 180 micro-instances sub-sites numbering around 10,000 pages. The content of the sub-sites, range from Careers, Reserves, Cadets, Stations, equipment, sports etc that are linked to the main site. There is also the RAF AirSpace, extranet site that is an internal communication, member’s only site that is hosted on the internet. The main social media sites used by the RAF are Facebook and Twitter, although there are lesser use of Flikr, YouTube and other social media channels. The RAF Facebook page has nearly 200,000 fans and had just over 71 million post views from 1-09-2010 to 31-08-2011. There was also access to the RAF Intranet website.
1.2 – Help and Advice
Help and advice has been sought from Dr Kevin Maher, Principal Lecturer in New Media and Technologies and Mr Mike Everett, Portfolio Leader, Computing & Advanced Technologies and they have guided the author in the preparation on this Assignment. Additional help has been received from Ms Hilary Mullen and Dr John McCarthy. The appointed Supervisor for the Dissertation is Mr Mike Everett.
Throughout the time on the MSc relevant advice has been sought from Tutors and students at BNU, work colleagues, users of the RAF Website (raf.mod.uk) and the social media pages of Facebook and Twitter. In addition there has been a lot of research carried out on the web and in consultation with Web and IT specialists from the Royal Navy and British Army and Binary Vision the software developers for the Royal Air Force.
The timing of the submission is was dependent on successful completion of all the MSc
e-Business modules. All modules were successfully completed in May 2011 and the plan is to submit the Dissertation by Christmas 2011.
The main problems with defining whether social media can be used to gain competitive advantage is that there is no clear definition of what this statement means. Currently there are hundreds of companies advertising the business use of social media but on close examination you will find that this usually means the placing of an advert on a social media channel or writing blogs. This in reality means that social media, in this context, is just another channel for marketing. With little analysis and a huge amount of copy being written on the subject it has been extremely difficult to sort out the relevant information. Therefore, work has been extremely intensive and the analysis of the subject matter and relevance has been quite problematic.
2- Literature Review
When completing the literature review for my research project I mainly looked at two areas, these should be considered as printed material and information available online. These were split into further subsets of books and journals. When considering the online element there were a number of online articles providing information pertaining to my topic.
Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime. (Cohen, E 2003) Cohen is a world renowned Professor of Strategic Studies based at Johns Hopkins University. In this fascinating and informative book, Cohen studies the art of wartime leadership by examining numerous conflicts starting with a recount of Lincoln during the American Civil War, Clemenceau in WWI, Churchill in WWII, and Ben-Gurion in Israel’s war of independence. Cohen illustrates how all military matters are linked to wider political issues and how for instance a dispute in 1918 over the integration of American divisions or even regiments into larger French formations had vast ramifications in which he recounted that “a seemingly tactical or even technical issue was fraught with the largest implications for French national morale, manpower policy, strategy, and alliance relations.” Cohen then goes on to chastise Churchill’s strategic capabilities which led UK forces into the disastrous foray of Greece and led to a complete underestimation of the capabilities of the Japanese military. Yet Cohen calls him ‘the greatest war statesman of the century’. Perhaps if Cohen had also studied the leadership of the country whose forces alone shattered more than 200 Nazi divisions – more than three quarters of Hitler’s army – he might have found a greater in Stalin. A chapter on ‘leadership without genius’ covers all US wars since WWII and classifies this as ‘a period in which the United States finds itself chronically resorting to the use of force’, as Cohen quaintly puts it. In summary, Cohen states that leaders of all levels are required to listen be fertile and resourceful, not only in the way they act, but also in speech as and when they deliver. Ultimately all leaders must see things as they are without illusions, despite the numerous distractions that they face. In addition, they must never accept the dogmatic division between civilian and military spheres of responsibility. As Harry Truman said, “the buck stops here”, for military and political decisions alike.
The Mask of Command: Alexander the Great, Wellington, Ulysses S. Grant, Hitler, and the Nature of Leadership.(Keegan, J 1988) One of our finest military historians, Keegan brilliantly examines the role leadership has historically played in ancient and modern warfare. His case studies include Alexander the Great, whose daring, even reckless disregard for danger earned him the respect and devotion of his Macedonian force and its Greek ‘allies’. Keegan’s careful breakdown of Alexander’s force, the strategies it employed, and Alexander’s overall flamboyance on the battlefield contribute to a greater understanding of the period and military realities of the day. The second study, the Duke of Wellington, offers a more detached, though still fully engaged mind where he describes Wellington as the anti-hero, in contrast to Alexander’s heroics. A British aristocrat well aware of his station, Wellington employed all of his resources and cunning to win, but did so without Alexander’s dramatics. Third, Keegan explores U.S. Grant during the US Civil War. Grant is the democratic soldier, committed to the republican ideal. He is engaged in prosecuting the war and always keenly aware that war itself lifted him out of obscurity and placed him in the critical leadership role. Finally, Keegan explores the twisted, though occasionally militarily brilliant mind of Adolf Hitler. Hitler commanded far behind the lines and continually inserted himself further and further down the chain of command. His justification for his own military judgment was his experience in the trenches of World War I. Hitler’s growing disconnect with military reality as the war progressed spelled ultimate doom for Germany.
Serve to Lead: The British Army’s Anthology on Leadership. (Churchill, W 2012) This should be considered as the original British Army anthology on leadership that has been used to train generations of officers that has brought together the collected wisdom of many of the greatest military leaders, tacticians and historians from across the generations entwined with the authentic voices of unknown soldiers. In summary this teaches crucial lessons about motivation, leadership and morale that are every bit as valuable to today’s leaders and managers as they were throughout the ages.
On War and Leadership: The Words of Combat Commanders from Frederick the Great to Norman Schwarzkopf. (Connelly, O 2005.) A scholar with a military background, Connelly begins with an excellent thumbnail sketch of the changing nature of Western warfare set over the past 250 years. As well as concentrating on better known leader he also included several lesser known small unit leaders such as Lawrence, Moore, Mosby and Vaux) which provides a nice blend to the discussion and demonstrates that good leadership traits are much the same at all levels of command. Throughout his quick precis on the lesser known unit commanders it demonstrated that each of these men exercised excellent leadership abilities and skill in training and preparation for combat and later in the desperate fighting that they encountered. Clearly throughout his text he states that there are natural leaders (where charisma helps), but, most successful leaders are students of leadership. Moreover, the more you read about leadership, the more spins and nuances you see. In essence, leadership is rather straightforward and should be considered as the implementation (the practice of good leadership techniques). The key take-away from Cohen’s book is his final summary within the final chapter that depicts many of the key traits of good leaders, supported by the descriptions of how each applied some or all of these traits. In his summary they are: lead in person, lead from the front, improvise according to the situation, hold to unity of command, take care of the troops, take risks (calculatedly, not recklessly).
Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World. (McChrystal, S 2015) Team of Teams offers insights into the modern practice of leadership and management required to navigate and succeed in this complex world from one of the greatest military minds of the conflicts in Afghanistan & Iraq. The book is not a military history, but instead a concise and collection of insightful ideas told through entertaining stories that range from industry to hospital emergency rooms. The discussions in the book are grounded in organisational management theory and leadership methods, but also look at the inside of the most storied Special Operations Forces (SOF) unit today. This book is about becoming the kind of senior leader that can develop and sustain an entire workforce of great leaders. The lessons the authors put forward to challenge the typical (and often failing) organisational models and leadership approaches were paid for in blood over previous decade. The discussions found in the various chapters of the book are wide-ranging but relevant to leading all organisations in this modern world. The following should be of interest to today’s leaders: the difference between complicated and complex environments; how having more information available does not improve prediction nor lead to smarter decisions at the top; the ‘need to know’ fallacy; might have a better organizational model not necessarily better people; how to delegate authority to take action until you are uncomfortable; how to build trust and a shared awareness of the big picture; ‘eyes on, hands off’ leadership; and the difference between creating Strategic Corporals and an organisation full of Lord Horatio Nelsons.
Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders. (Marquet, 2013.) I found this to be an inspirational book on leadership and management. The context of a nuclear submarine helps to prevent this subject from being too “dry”. The key message taken from this book is that to have a successful submarine or business you must shepherd your staff and yourself properly, with curiosity, willingness and the ability to challenge and change, use empathy appropriately, collective responsibility, open communication and willingness to engage in detail. Long term organisational success may lie in seeking out and embracing depth, complexity, empathy, and the true spirit of leadership in us all, at whatever level we may be at present.
On Becoming a Leader. (Bennis, WG 1998) Bennis is Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California and a consultant to numerous multinational companies and governments around the world. This book is full of practical points and inspiring quotes that leave you wanting and inspiring you to fulfil your potential. Unlike many other leadership books this tends to focus on the character and the timeless principles that cause true leaders to rise to the top of an organisation. There is no quick fix easy route to success here. One of the most memorable quotes from this immersive book is “First and foremost, find out what it is you’re about, and be that. Be what you are and don’t lose it…It’s very hard to be who we are because it doesn’t seem to be what anyone wants”. This appears to be true no matter the situation that it is employed in.
Tarnished: Toxic Leadership in the U.S. Military. (Reed, G 2015.) The author is an associate dean of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego. Before joining the faculty, he served for 27 years as an army officer which included six years as the director of Command and Leadership Studies at the United States Army War College. This book is an excellent study of leadership that explores the elements of toxic leadership from the perspective of organisational culture as perceived by those affiliated with the organisation, in this case it is the US Army. The relationships between people within the organisation is explored as the evolution of toxic leadership ebbs and flows. A compelling assessment of the supervisor-subordinate relationship is also made and how it intertwines with the day-to-day mission and success of the overall organisation. Any serious practitioner of Leadership traits would benefit from this easily read text and it should be mandatory reading for all senior military leaders. Also many of the Officer Cadets should be required to read it for the numerous leadership classes that they partake in.
High Command: British Military Leadership in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. (Elliot, C 2015.)Christopher Elliott is a retired British Army officer who attained the rank of Major General and eventually retired in 2002. He is a visiting professor of Cranfield University. Elliott analyses ten years of military failure. He warns that we will lose more wars unless senior military stop agreeing and accepting impossible missions. For example, Elliot criticises a deeply flawed promotion system that discourages frank speaking for fear of rocking the boat. Too many officers of average ability are promoted because they are regarded as ‘safe’. They rise by conforming not by openly saying to their superiors that things are wrong or could be improved. The views of junior ranks are regarded often with derision and they have little to no say in the implementation of policy despite having done most of the work on it. The book reveals the lack of accountability and ownership behind key operational decisions. He also tells how the heads of the army and navy often learnt about key decisions after they had already been made. Joined up thinking was frequently absent. Given these and many other examples it is not surprising that Iraq, became a terrorist’s haven, and Afghanistan a potential quagmire. The contents clearly indicate that a drastic overhaul of decision-making in the MOD is urgent. As Elliott demonstrates, people are still pursuing their own agendas within what he describes as the ‘trading pit’ of the Whitehall main building. Initiative is stifled and the lowest common denominator rules the roost. Amateurs are given jobs beyond their ability and experience.
2.2 – Journals
DIRECTOR GENERAL LEADERSHIP: Developing Leaders A British Army Guide. (Jensen, D. Neville, J) This journal is intended to be of practical use for leaders. It emphasises the moral element of Army leadership, highlights what is expected of Army leaders and aims to shape Army leader development to improve individual and collective performance. It does not purport to be the sole source of information on leadership. Indeed, it is intended to encourage further broad study of leadership by Army leaders and contains many recommendations of how to take such development further.
The Dimensions of Reputations in the Electronic Markets (Ghose, A. Ipeirotis, P. Suderarajan, A. 2009) is another journal that sets out econometric, text mining and predictive modelling techniques to capture information on reputation, which is another key factor in this dissertation (Objective 8 and 10).
E-commerce and ICT Activity Office (Statistical Bulletin 2009) This document clearly sets out details of how e-commerce is rapidly increasing in the UK. E-commerce was valued at £293.3bn in 2009 and has complete relevance to this project and tapping the market in a professional manner (Objectives 7 and 8).
Eye Tracking and its Application in Usability and Media Research (Schiessl, M. Duda, S.Tholke, A. Fischer, R. 2008) This paper studies eye tracking or the way people first look at a website and how, when properly used, can add to the usability and media research. Eye tracking reinforces how people look at website and then how this does not accord with the setup of Facebook. This information links in with Objective 4.
Investigating the Effect of Website Quality on e-Business Success B (Lee, Y. Kozar, K,A. 2005) This paper studied the effects of website quality with 156 online customers and 34 managers/designers of e-Business companies. Needless to say they discovered that the website with the highest quality produced the highest business performance (Objective 7).
Social Media Benchmarking Study (Hanna,B. 2009) The social media benchmarking study was a very interesting piece of work and revealed that although many companies use social media they are not using it to maximum effect. The key result is that the benchmarking study revealed that 89% of companies use social media for building brand awareness (Objective 7).
The Power of Like. How Brands Reach and Influence Fans Through Social Media (Bruich, S. Lipsman, A. Mudd, G. Rich, M. 2010) This journal delivered for ComScore, a leading analytical company, reinforced the importance of the loyalty of the customer and how this can be used to improve business output. Furthermore, it emphasised that tapping into the friends of friends has got to be the aim of every company (Objectives 5 and 11).
Usability of Three Social Networking Sites (Fox, D. Naidu, S. 2009). This study evaluated
the usability of three of the most popular social networking sites (MySpace,
Facebook, and Orkut). Results revealed issues related to confusing terminology,
inadequate feedback and error messages, and improper link location impacted
user performance and satisfaction (Objective 4 and 8).
Web Usability: Principles and Evaluation Methods Matera, M. Rizzo, F. Carughi, G, T. 2006) This journal looks at the very high importance of web usability that can determine the success or failure of a business (Objective 4)
Various lecture notes have added to the dissertation and the key ones being: e-Business Strategy Development (Module Code: BTM08H –Objectives 7, 8, 9 and 10), Research Methods (Module Code: BTM02H- Objective 1, 2, 11 and 12), Computer Security (Module Code: INM03H – Objective 8) and Project Management (Module Code: BTM01H – Objective 1, 2 and 10)
2.4 – Magazines, Newspapers and Online Articles
The magazine, newspaper and online articles added to the contemporary input to the dissertation. Unlike the books and journals, these articles were up-to-date and able to give ‘real time’ input to the work. However, what should be noted is that although the content is up-to-date it has not had the benefit of hindsight that the books and journals have had. Therefore, in time some of the content may be discredited. That said without the input the subject matter would be at least a few years out of date and social media is a fast evolving medium and needs current input. The key documents were: BBC (2010) Facebook News Feeds Beset With Malware ATG (2011) How Mid-Sized Companies Can Maximise Their Online Opportunities, Rappeport, A. (2011) International Sales Help Lift Coca-Cola Profits, Rappeport, A. (2011) Pepsi Shares Tumble as Cola Sales Disappoint, BBC (2011) Sony’s Playstation Hack Apology, Ritson, M (2011) When it comes to social media, Coke is it!,Calamia, M (2011) You Can Never Have Too Many Friends, Unless It’s Over 150 and Pearce D (2001) Your Face is Familiar…but I can’t quite place you.
A lot of research was carried out on various website including Facebook, Hounds for Heroes,
IT Security, Refresh Everything, The 1940 Chronicle, The Risks Register, Webopedia and
Wikipedia these websites helped with all the Objectives.
The Role of Mentoring Within Todays Military
For the RAF it is essential that the necessary leadership development processes are not only in place, but actively producing that are leaders capable of assuming the reign of operational leadership. A means to this end is mentoring, where senior leaders afford subordinates the advantage of vicarious learning through their experiences. It was once said that he who learns through personal experience alone is a fool, but conversely, he who not only learns from personal experience but also that of others, is truly a wise man. Mentoring is a vehicle to bridge the gap between limited personal experiences and that of many successful leaders at the operational level.
Leadership, is most probably the most important tenet of military power which can be enhanced through mentoring. Mentoring is indirectly described in doctrinal manuals as coaching and teaching, however, these concepts only narrowly reveal the true meaning and potency of effective mentoring. Mentoring, is a professional and personal developmental process of educating, nurturing, and sharing experiences between all leaders and subordinates. Teaching and coaching focuses on specific tasks during designated periods whereas mentoring aims to assist throughout a career. Mentoring is an anchor point essential to operational leadership. The development of leaders capable of effectively leading diverse, independent forces at the operational level is enhanced through mentoring. Mentoring permits followers (the led) to become acquainted with a successful and mature style of leadership that should provide the means to assist in developing the protégés own style of leadership.
Mentoring is seen as a value added concept in that it not only enhances the protégé, but, also the mentor and the overall organisation in the long run. Traditionally, in the mentor-protégé relationship, the protégé obtains many benefits such as accelerated cultural education, holistic organisational awareness, social integration and improved self-confidence. Mentoring affords the protégé the advantage of focused learning and the association with successful leaders as they encounter and resolve real world situations. This experience alone is of infinite value, since it creates an environment where the protégé can learn vicariously and “cost” free. The benefit of learning in a non-threatening and stress-free environment is invaluable. Moreover, the protégé gains the perspective of the organization as viewed from the mentor’s vantage point.
Mentoring can help assist emerging leaders with early career decisions and steers them around potential pitfalls. In short, the mentor seeks to promote the protégé’s abilities thereby advancing the protégé’s status at a rate not yet available to all of the protégé’s peers. Nevertheless, the protégé is not the only beneficiary of this relationship but also the organisations benefits.
In the mentoring relationship the organisation reaps stability from the sharing of organisational values between the mentor and protégé. The ideal result of this relationship is one where the protégé is the successor to the mentor. The advantages afforded the protégé from the mentor are designed to increase the protégé’s performance, commitment, and loyalty which enhances the well-being of the organisation. The complexity of leadership at the operational level demands mentoring so as to provide the necessary leader development. Operational leadership requires a wide range of skills of which the individual experience affords the leader only a few. Mentoring is a means of supplementing limited experiences. At the operational level the value of a mentor is exponential relative to his cost. It cultivates, nurtures, and promotes known core values. The mentor-protégé relationship enhances stability and sets up a potential line of leader succession. The skills that protégés learn will enable them to be more smoothly integrated into the leadership role and more productive at an earlier rate than if the mentor-protégé relationship did not exist. Operational leadership requires intuition, confidence, and talent gained through a study of history, theory, doctrine, and effective mentorship. Mentoring enhances limited experience through focused learning and sharing. The successful careers of the below mentioned officers speak for themselves and can in part be attributed to effective mentoring.
The mentoring of George S. Patton, George C. Marshall and Douglas MacArthur by General John J. Peshing reflects the success of effective mentoring. The relationship shared by these officers (protégés) and their mentor resulted in their accelerated cultural education and exposure to ideas and problem solving techniques unavailable to their peers. In each of these relationships the protégé’s talents were developed, reinforced, and highlighted in a manner to facilitate rapid yet mature development. The mentoring of these officers benefited not only their development but supported the organisation’s longevity and stability as well. While mentoring will not supplant talent it is a multiplier, especially at the operational level where ambiguity and uncertainty is common.
The results of mentoring are indisputable and one cannot deny the accelerated affect it affords in the development of successful operational leaders. Despite the many positive outcomes of mentoring the RAF has been slow to adopt this leadership style is and define it in unambiguous terms. Some of the side effects of mentoring are the fear that it may not serve the interests of the organisation but rather, those of individuals and thus resulting in predominately personal not professional relationships. Notwithstanding this negative aspect, mentoring is key to the long term sustainment of effective operational leadership. Mentoring establishes an organisational climate where professional learning is promoted and the accumulated experience of senior leaders is shared with subordinates to enhance the efficiency and provide for the future leadership of the organisation. Effective operational leadership motivates subordinates to develop and perform beyond expectations. Mentoring empowers the led to become leaders. Successful leadership at the operational level is built on professional and personal identification with the leader and a shared organisational vision.
Operational Leadership and Organisational Culture
A pattern of shared basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and that have worked well enough to be considered valid, and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.
Culture is a powerful and intangible entity that compromises the shared assumptions within organisations. These mutually adopted assumptions are reflected through the learned behaviour of the group and indicate what the group believes are its important values. As these behaviours are adopted and reinforced through group functions they become the norm and govern the way the group view both themselves and the world. Operational leaders must understand their organisations culture and be an expression of it if they are to truly influence it and ultimately accomplish the organisation’s long term vision. Furthermore, the importance of culture to leadership is manifested in the leader’s actions through consistency and trust. While the culture of an organisation tends to be taken for granted, it is the very life line and can often dictate success or failure for the organisation.
Leadership acts are expressions of culture. Leadership as cultural expression seeks to build unity and order within an organisation by giving attention to purposes, tradition, and ideals and norms which define the way of life within the organisation and which provide the bases for socialising members and obtaining compliance. Culture is the external manifestation of an organisation’s personality as shaped and influenced by its operational leader. Hence, it is an imperative that operational leaders take an active role in shaping the organisation’s culture in its formative development as they may relinquish their ability to effectively lead.
Consistency of action is a means by which operational leaders formulate its organisation’s culture. The systematic attention of the leader to events that are deemed important to the leader communicates powerfully to subordinates at all levels the standard required. Leaders must be aware that their actions, reactions, or lack thereof formulate the organisation’s culture. Subordinates within an organisation quickly assess and determine what is important by the leader’s actions and not the intensity or volume of his rhetoric. Consistency is a benchmark for effective operational leadership as it seeks to shape its organisations culture and future.
The development and adoption of shared assumptions generates efficiency, balance, and comfort within an organisation. Effective organisational cultures not only enhance performance, but also create a predictable environment where subordinates can anticipate activities and maximise initiative. In the end, effective organisational cultures that are shaped and influenced by operational leaders allow organisations to attain the vision with minimal friction. Organisational culture has a significant impact on organisations because of shared assumptions that guide the behaviour of the organisation. Nevertheless, the influence of these shared assumptions is often neglected because of their routine nature. Organisations are goal oriented entities, and as such, operational leaders through their vision, directly influence the organisation’s future.
However, if the leader is to ensure that his vision is being carried out, his actions must be consistent with that vision. The leader’s actions ultimately set the organisations priorities and standards which determine its culture. William Joseph Slim, a British Field Marshal during World War II, is an example of an operational leader who successfully nurtured and shaped his organisation’s culture. Slim was a British officer of the lower-middle class, which usually meant one could not expect to achieve a high rank within the British Army. Nevertheless, he joined the British Army and served with distinction, ultimately winning a commission and attaining the rank of Field Marshall and Viscount which were indicative of high stature in both the military and social cultures. Slim was relegated to operations in Burma with the Indian Army, the best an officer of his status could expect. There Slim earned his fame in Burma where he restored the fighting capability of the British and Indian forces and decisively defeated the Japanese. One of the first tasks that Slim faced was the establishment of a viable organisational culture whereby he could build and sustain an effective force.
The means to this end were the following set of principles which Slim’s army operated within:
• The ultimate intention must be an offensive one.
• The main idea on which the plan was based must be simple.
• That idea must be held in view throughout and everything must give way to it.
• The plan must have an element of surprise.
The simplicity of these principals were brilliant and established the means to an effective organisational culture. Slims principals served as the manifestation of his personality which were simplicity, consistency, and trust. The development and adoption of these shared assumptions as a way of operating enabled efficiency, initiative, and predictability within Slim’s command culture. In the end, Slim changed the culture of the British army that still has a lasting effect over 70 years later, by emphasising merit over lineage and social status which enhanced the performance and stability of his overall organisation.
In the long run operational leaders can ill afford to neglect organisational culture. Culture is a means by which operational leaders shape and influence the organisation’s future strategies. The personality of an organisation is displayed through its culture and underlies key aspects of the operational leader’s way of thinking and operating. Operational leaders must capitalise on these advantages afforded them in the formulation of their organisation.
What is Leadership in the Basic Form
“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by sheep; I am afraid of a sheep led by a lion.”
Alexander the Great
Current UK military idea/belief outlines leadership as the ability to provide purpose, direction, and (desire to do something/reason for doing something) to all assistants no matter the job; basically, military leadership is the practice of influencing airman, soldiers and sailors towards the (something that was completed) of a given mission. While (according to accepted beliefs) this generally describes leadership at the strategical level, these ideas are also (clearly connected or related) at the operational and (related to a plan to reach a goal) levels. Senior Military Leadership, in all services defines operational leadership, as “the art of direct and indirect influence and the skill of creating the conditions for sustained organisational success to enable the desired result”. A comparison of these definitions shows/tells about a means of (accomplishing or gaining with effort) a desired end (made different) by levels; one micro and the other macro (strategical/individual and operational/organisational). The idea/belief of micro-leadership is directed at the strategical level of leadership where the leader is charged with influencing the individual or a (compared to other things) small groups of people. On the other hand, at the macro-leadership level we find leaders trying to influence multiple semi- independent organizations to reach a specified goal.
Leadership in the past, pre-eighteenth century, was primarily executed on a face to face basis which is a stark contrast to today and how it is likely to be conducted for the foreseeable future. The growth of modern militaries and the dispersed nature of conflicts have made face to face leadership interventions impracticable in most cases at the operational level. Given this conceptual outline of Military leadership, this project will further examine and define the components of leadership UK military doctrine at the operational level.
The Armed Forces advocates four major factors of leadership and these can be defined as the led, the leader, the situation and communications. Perhaps the first and foremost factor is the ‘led’ and this can be described as those who will be charged with executing orders. Leaders seeking to effectively influence subordinates must establish a report that generally fosters success through trust, mutual respect, and confidence. The means to this end is an assessment of one’s subordinates and the customized treatment of them on a vis-à-vis. The led are the most essential element of the leadership equation since inappropriately dealing with them condemns the leader to failure at the onset.
The second major leadership factor centres on the ‘leader’. As articulated by Sun Tzu more than 2500 years ago, a critical aspect of effective leadership is knowing oneself. Leaders must be aware of their strengths and weaknesses so that as leaders one can control and discipline oneself and subsequently effectively lead soldiers. The path to successful leadership begins with self (the leader). As leaders, we must assess our capabilities and seek to take advantage of our strengths and improve on our weaknesses. The recognition of one’s limitations is important not only because it provides a basis from which leaders can begin their development, but also because soldiers will quickly see our weaknesses as they manifest themselves and ultimately undermine the operational effectiveness of the unit.
The infinite variety of the numerous situations’ a leader may face is the next major factor. Leadership is situational in which there is no one solution that can be applied against an infinite variety of circumstances. The appropriate action for a given situation is governed by a host of variables which can be equally considered to be both known and unknown. Some variables are the leader, the subordinate, the task, perceptions and the resources that are available. The dynamics of human interaction requires that each situation be handled in accordance with its unique circumstances to achieve optimum results. Leadership is not a scientific endeavor where one can simply apply a formula to guarantee success, but rather, it is a dynamic interaction seeking to influence and or motivate others in accordance with the leaders’ desires.
The final major factor of leadership is ‘communications’; that should be considered as the exchange of ideas and information from person to person. Communication is not only the transmission of written and oral information, but, also the example a leader sets by his actions. The concept of communication embodies both verbal and nonverbal communications between a leader and his subordinates (the led). Additionally, effective communication entails good listening, sensitivity, and perceptiveness. Good listening means considering the ideas and needs of subordinates and their effects. Listening also enables new ideas to emerge which may assist leaders in achieving their goal. Effective leaders should also be aware of and sensitive to the needs of those that they lead so as to capitalise on their strengths and compensate for any known shortcomings. A leader’s ability to anticipate situations through effective communications is essential and is borne of an open and honest relationship which should be attained through effective communication. The four doctrinal factors of leadership are omnipresent yet, their interaction is unique to each circumstance. The dynamic relationship of each factor must be considered and evaluated for a leader to effectively impart leadership.
Operational/Senior level leadership, while not wholly different from tactical leadership, is more complex in that one is more concerned with providing purpose and direction for organisations rather than individuals. Leadership at the senior/operational level is “the art of direct and indirect influence and the skill of creating the conditions for sustained organisational success to achieve the desired result”. In short, operational leadership is the forecasting of a future organisational end state and the means of getting there. This is known as ‘vision’. While vision is a critical centerpiece of operational leadership, purpose, direction, and motivation are its fundamental elements.
Purpose is an essential requirement for any organisation that desires to optimize efficiency and provide guidance, especially in difficult times. Additionally, operational leaders establish purpose to focus their organisation and empower its members with the ‘why’ for their existence. Baron Von Steuben learned that soldiers, American soldiers in particular, performed best when they understood the ‘why’ for their actions. The sharing of the ‘why’ with organisations not only focuses its members but also enables them with a sense of ‘team’, where everyone can assist in achieving its ultimate end-state. Additionally, the notion of ‘team’ assists organisations by harnessing diversity and directing it towards a specific end state ultimately ‘A team is not a team until every member understands how their actions affects others’. In order for an operational leader to maximise their effectiveness they must engender a sense of team through sharing and understanding.
Purpose is a means to this end. In the absence of purpose there is the tendency to act as discrete, incoherent entities. Direction provides the means for creating the conditions for sustained organisational success. Operational leaders are charged with providing a clear unambiguous course for their organisations by setting goals and standards with the ultimate aim of developing teams and ensuring discipline. Goals and standards also set the organisational path. Teams should look to provide resiliency through mutual support and burden sharing. Discipline ensures focus and performance in the absence of leaders and or guidance. The charting of an organisations direction coupled with a shared purpose creates a synergism that enables operational success.
Operational/Senior leaders are responsible for sustaining the moral climate and must motivate subordinates to accomplish their mission. Simply put, they must recognise individual and organisational needs and wants and influence them to accomplish the leader’s end.
Motivation is effective when leaders understand their subordinates needs and merge them with the organisations. The success of this merger is multiplicative in nature where leaders act to fuse the needs of disparate elements of an organisation to form a coherent whole. The means to this end is ‘shared purpose’ and ‘ownership’ in the organisation and its future. This facilitates effective motivation by incorporating and empowering members. Leadership is based on the concept of a group effort where the whole is more than its individual components. Organisations are complex entities and effective operational leadership is central to its efficacy.
The ever changing face of modern conflict poses increased challenges for the operational leader. Nevertheless, doctrine provides a means to adhere and to adapt to and a means to overwhelm unforeseen challenges. Doctrine, should be considered as the distilled wisdom of history, that assists in establishing effective operational leadership through imperatives and guidelines. Operational leadership is ‘the art of direct and indirect influence and the skill of creating the conditions for sustained organisational success to achieve the desired result’. In the end, leadership at this level must recognise and come to terms with what Clausewitz described as war’s illusive face and apply the appropriate treatments to accomplish one’s aim.
Leadership at the operational level requires both professional competence and self-confidence. The operational leader must be able to analyse tactical situations and put them in perspective with the operational environment. Visualisation of the future and patience with the current situation is essential for success at the operational level. Nevertheless, while experience is significant to effective and successful operational leadership, it is not a universal formula for success. If experience were the singular critical element, then the comment by Frederick the Great ‘that his mules should be great battle captains since they were present on numerous campaigns’ would be accepted. Experience, in and of itself is of little value unless its lessons are well followed by learned and able leaders.
3 – Facebook
3.1 – Development of The Facebook.
Following the success of Facemash in October 2003, Mark Zuckerberg developed (the) facebook when he was a Havard student in 2004. Kirkpatrick (2010) describes Facemash and how Zuckerberg invited students to view two digital photos of people of the same sex and rate which one was the hottest. As the ratings got hotter, the winning picture would be rated against hotter and hotter people, eventually finding the hottest male and female in campus. The Facemash site came from ‘facebooks’ of students on 9 of the 12 campuses that Zuckerberg was able to hack into to obtain the images. Facemash was exceptionally popular and attracted 450 visitors and 22,000 photo views in the first four hours. However, after a couple of days the site was shut down on security reasons and Zuckerberg was charged with various violations including: breach of security, violating copyrights, and violating individual privacy all charges were later dropped. The popularity of the site led to Zuckerberg and his computer science colleagues, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin and Chris Hughes launching the facebook in February 2004. Very soon after the launch Shaun Parker, founder of Napster, told Zuckerberg that he should drop the ‘the’ in front of Facebook.
3.2 – Legal Issues over the Facebook.
There was a number of legal issues that followed and Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra sued Zuckerberg because he agreed to work on a social media site called HarvardConnection.com and they claimed that the facebook was based on their idea. Zuckerberg always denied this but he did he did settle for a fee that was allegedly $65 million and a non-disclosure clause. There was also a problem with Eduardo Saverin, CFO and business manager, who was allegedly forced out of the company that he helped start. Saverin also sued Zuckerberg and was successful and Saverinn received an undisclosed sum and had his name restored as co-founder of Facebook.
Kirkpatrick (2010) says popular though it may be, Facebook was never intended as a substitute for face-to-face communication. The software application was always conceived, and engineered by Zuckerberg and colleagues, as a tool to enhance relationships with people known in the flesh, real friends, acquaintances, classmates and co-workers. The initial software platform was designed for Harvard and students and then went on to other universities and from there to schools until it popularity grew so much that it is now one of the most popular sites in the world.
If users want to be a part of Facebook they have to create a profile that defines who they are, this includes, name, photo, networks and status. They can search for friends who are on the system and can upload photos, videos, messages and play games. The home screen, or wall, allows them to make comments and have their friends comment back. There are also groups and pages that they can follow, by clicking the ‘like’ button and then everything posted on these groups and pages is then displayed on their walls. There are many theories on why Facebook is such a success but being able to see what other people are doing, and look at their photos, is the main reason.
That said in the early days of Facebook there were some very good campaigns launched on the site. Kirkpatrick (2010) describes a situation in 2008 when a campaign was launched in Colombia against the Revolutionary Armed Forces who held many hostages for many years to try an obtain ransoms. The campaign to get the captives released quickly gained momentum and demonstrations were staged and gradually hostages were released.
Holzner (2009) describes the ways of displaying information on Facebook and defines the Groups, the oldest way of aggregating users on Facebook and pages, which are designed for businesses. We shall now look at a Group and a Page to note the differences.
- Facebook was never intended as a substitute for face-to-face communication
3.4 – Hounds for Heroes Group.
Facebook Groups can be created by anyone interested in promoting and organizing people around a specific interests or cause. All members of a group have the ability to contribute content that appears on the Group’s wall – photos, videos, discussion threads. Hounds for Heroes is a charity that has been set up to provide assistance dogs for the disabled of the Military and Emergency Services. The group was set up on Facebook to give real-time information to supporters who had an interest in the charity. All personnel who come to the Facebook page are made aware of the website that holds the corporate information. As can be seen it gives all supporters the chance to upload comments and photos and adds to the overall engagement effect of the charity. The second post is an RSS feed directly from the news channel on the web page of Hounds for Heroes, so an integrated news feed is provided to website and Facebook page, this also feeds through to Twitter. The limitations of this page is that the only information Facebook provides is the members of the group, currently at 4,348, it does not tell you how often people post stories, what stories they like, where they come from etc., this is where the Facebook page comes in.
- Facebook Groups can be created by anyone interested in promoting and organizing people around a specific interests or cause
Facebook Pages are used to promote businesses, non-profits, celebrities and artists to Facebook users. The Royal Air Force page is a highly successful engagement tool for the Service and helps the general public understand what is happening. The page has been in existence for just over 18 months and has now over 195,000 fans as at 1 September 2011. So if you look at the Group and the Page there does not seem to be much difference they both have the ability to post discussions, photos, videos etc. However, the main difference is that a page allows the admin to use all the Facebook applications and this is critical to improving content and making the most of your content. These applications include: new likes, lifetime likes, monthly active users, post views, feedback, interactions, posts, impressions and a lot more. This is business intelligence and with the right strategies and business plans then Facebook begins to change from a social network into a business tool.
- Facebook Pages are used to promote businesses, non-profits, celebrities and artists to Facebook users
You will often hear people who have had an event and find that they did not have many people turn up, despite creating a website. Now the reason for the failure of the event may be due to a whole raft of reasons, poor publicity plan, bad weather, location of the event etc. However, a quick look at the internet will see that many websites are poorly designed, have little engagement and users cannot see what the message is meant to convey. The design of websites and how people use them is call web usability and one of the world’s leading experts is Jacob Nielsen.
- Google Analytics (2011) tell us that the metrics for visitors to websites are reducing and in the last year there has been a 0.4% decline in page visits to websites and the average time on site has reduced from 5.49 mins to 5.23 mins showing a reduction of 0.26%.
Neilsen (1999) says there is one main message when designing websites and that is to keep it simple. In addition to this you need to have effective navigation and messages need to be placed in the right position to get optimum results to your website. Currently people spend very little time on a website if they cannot find an item, or product that interests them, this time is currently thought to be 4 seconds. We also see unsurprisingly see from Lee and Kozar (2005) that “the website with highest quality produced the highest business performance”.
- Simple web design is the most effective
Neilson (2006) spent some time working on how users look at a website and through some eyetracking technology they discovered that the F pattern is the way we gather information displayed on screen.
The heatmaps in Figure 6 show the user eyetracking studies from three websites. The areas where users looked the most are coloured red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. Grey areas didn’t attract any fixations. The image on the left shows that users probably read a few paragraphs when viewing an article, unless the item is exceptionally interesting. This knowledge is used when professionals design and write for web, having the salient points of the article in the first two paragraphs and the title made up from roughly 6 words. Content should be short, relevant and have links to others sites (top right-hand of all heatmaps). From the second image we see that there has been close examination of the image and the viewers have looked at the page in a classic F pattern. The last image shows that people get bored very easily and rarely go down the page, which is one reason why search engine optimisation is a must for every company, because if you website does not appear on the first page of the Google search then the traffic to the website is likely to be very light.
Another thing to remember is that websites have a lot of pages that make up the site so if the content is kept in the screen area and the messages are optimised to the top left of the page in an F formation then you will have a good chance of passing on your key messages to your target audience, as long as they visit your site.
Neilsen (2000) states: “Usability rules the Web. Simply stated, if the customer can’t find a product, the he or she will not buy it. The Web is the ultimate customer-empowering environment. He or she who clicks the mouse gets to decide everything. It is so easy to go elsewhere, al the competitors in the world are but a mouseclick away.”
- Websites need to be designed in a ‘F’ structure to attract maximum traffic
When we look at Facebook we see that some of Neilsen’s recommendations are there, simple navigation, easy to view photos/videos and a clean page. However, this leads us into one of the big drawbacks of Facebook and that is it only has one page that friends and owners can post to. If we look at a normal page with 200 friends then the number of posts is going to be quite high and messages and posts can be missed, due to the high turnover of posts, by the casual observer of the page, which in itself is not a problem unless you want to use that page for a business that is going to try and find customers from the casual observer. When you now look at the Royal Air Force Page then with 195,000 friends it might be impossible to get any messages across to the casual observer as the rate of change on the page is very high.
If we look at the Facebook heatmap we see that eyetracking is the same as that of websites and the eye of the user is naturally attracted to the top left hand part of the page. So if the user is not looking at the page when your post drops in sight then the potential for it being missed can be quite high. However, going back to the original use of Facebook being chatting to friends then the turnover of posts is much lower so the design is quite acceptable.
- Facebook is not designed for the best user experience for large organisations
To understand how a website is performing you need to know what articles/products are being viewed, how long people are visiting your site and what the user is doing when they come to your site, without this information you cannot improve the user experience. Web analytics packages can be provided from a whole host of companies and can cost many thousands of pounds or can be free (Google Analytics). The main difference is the depth of analytics needed and the security of that information as Google can use the statistics gained from your site to aid their studies.
To understand how a website is performing you want to know how many people visited your site, the unique number of users, the page views, time on site, where users visit and other metrics to find out how well it is performing. The company may also go to a website such as Alexa.com to rate their position in the country and the world. Google is in first position with Facebook second, YouTube third, Yahoo fourth and Blogger.com fifth; apart from the search engines we can see how prominent social media sites are.
If we look at the RAF we see that they are currently using Webtrends for all their analytics of www.raf.mod.uk and this package shows that in June 2011 there were 7,587,820 page views. This has varied from a high of 8,043,617 page views in May 2011 to a low of 4,550,602 page views in December 2010 and works out at an average of 6,083, 632 page views over the last year. With careful analysis of the statistics on the RAF website traffic can be driven towards the best areas of the site and improve the low performing areas. Further work is on-going to upgrade the analytics package to provide social media statistics that will be able to help with the overall corporate engagement strategy.
- A quality web analytics package is essential to business
The analytics provided with Facebook are quite different from those found in a traditional web package. Furthermore, some of the statistics provided are quite difficult to understand. For instance Facebook provide the number of post views that are displayed on a rolling basis for the last month. However, the post views are nowhere near the number of fans and the average number of post views runs around the 45% mark of fans (81,000 post views). In the help page a question asks: Is the impression number the number of users who have seen the post? The answer is No. This is the raw number of impressions that have been shown to users. These impressions can come from a user’s news feed, a visit to the Page, or through an Open Graph social plugin. However, Holzner (2009) states “number of impressions is how many times your post has been visible”. So we now know that people might miss posts due to the computer being turned off, not being on the right page etc. Although this is a little confusing, but there are other bits of information that is quite useful:
- New Likes (with arrow to donate + or – over the last month)
- Lifetime Likes
- Monthly Active Users (with arrow to donate + or – over the last month)
- Post Views (with arrow to donate + or – over the last month)
- Post Feedback (with arrow to donate + or – over the last month)
- Demographics (male or female, age group, country, town/city and language)
- Interactions (message, date posted, impressions and feedback)
- Facebook provides a comprehensive social media analytics package
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