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1996 Army Symposium: "Leadership Challenges of the 21st Century Army"


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Even though this is from 1996, I thought it contained some pearls of wisdom that were fairly timeless, and universal:

1996 Army Symposium: "Leadership Challenges of the 21st Century Army" Executive Summary

The 1996 Army Leadership Symposium: "Leadership Challenges of the 21st Century Army" was held at Cantigny Estate, Wheaton, Illinois from 27-29 March 1996. The symposium brought together senior Army leaders and noted academics to discuss the key leadership and leader development issues facing the Army as it moves into the 21st century. This report summarizes the event and documents the key issues identified during the discussions. These issues primarily concern defining the operational environment of the future, the implications for leadership and leader development as a result of the changing technology and missions, and the implications for leadership and leader development research to ensure a strong theoretical and research base for the Army's leader development plans and programs. Discussions also emphasized the need to maximize human potential and maximize the benefits from leader development resources.

Leadership Policy Recommendations

Molding the Culture

  • Do away with the terms "mentor and mentoring," and reestablish and expand the coaching and teaching role of leaders at all levels.
  • Of the 5 "C's" (courage, compassion, candor, commitment, and competence), compassion and candor seem to be missing in execution.
  • Increase the emphasis on mutual respect, talking to and listening to subordinates at all levels, caring, and congruence between leaders' words and actions.
  • Reexamine how success is defined. Is it command track only; or does it need to expand into multiple paths to maximize the human potential and ensure that we have the skills and capabilities for the more varied missions of the future. Clearly identify the criteria for leader success.
  • Ensure that promotion decisions are based on criteria relevant for performance in the next higher position. Decisions based on assessment of skills exhibited in a current position may not yield the best qualified candidate in terms of skills needed for the higher position. Additional assessment tools (subordinate, peer, etc.) and valid, relevant criteria are necessary.
  • If unit proficiency and effectiveness are key outcomes of good leadership, we need valid, reliable methods to assess and reward both individual leader and team/unit performance.
  • Implement career paths through different units, different organizations (e.g., outside the military), and different countries for learning and practicing the new requirements for operating in open environments (i.e., the multinational arena). Broader experience will be gained, leading to increased intuition and judgment; as well as increased cognitive, behavioral, and social complexity (and flexibility).
  • Revise the Academic Efficiency Report (AER) so that it is given the same consideration as the Officer Efficiency Report (OER) or the Noncommissioned Officer Efficiency Report (NCOER) for promotion and assignment decisions.
  • Reward what you mean to reward. The skills, ethics, and personal qualities that are rewarded determine the future culture of the Army as leaders move up in the organization.
  • Evaluate the current selection methods and tools to ensure that they are working both at the entry level and for promotions.
  • Revise current concepts of career length and personnel utilization. We must find ways to retain the Army's best and brightest, possibly: selected retention stabilize (and do not penalize) school faculty members employ "graybeards" in selected schools for selected topics.