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Good leadership -a military perspective, special guest Roderic Yapp

There’s this perspective or view in modern leadership that the old style of leadership is all about command and control and that the modern style of leadership is all about empowerment. This concept of empowerment is something that the military has been practicing for quite some time. The decision-making power has to be delegated as depending on the situation, the person on-the-ground is best equipped to make the decision. Developing this ability, in the military, is through scenario training.

The other point is that leadership is shown through your behaviour. It’s dependent on the way you lead by the example you set. In the military you can’t have a difficult conversation about fitness if you’re not fit yourself as a leader. That undermines your authority. Which leads on to an area on corporate leadership where there’s a view that teams work for the leader whereas actually it’s the other way around. Here’s where a mindset change is required where, as a leader, you’re thinking about how to set your team up for success and how do you remove the obstacles they could or are facing.

The modern leader has to quickly understand the context. Evaluate the situation and then work out what the team needs to be doing. This is the point where control comes into play. Do I give control to my team? Or do I retain it for myself? Really good leaders have a sense of where they naturally are on this spectrum and then act accordingly. In the process creating an environment for learning.

Which brings to fore the necessity of going deeper into a situation that might look like a failure. In the corporate world there’s truly little of that. This is where there’s value in the debriefing process. In the corporate world leaders are afraid to admit there’s something going wrong. A debriefing process provides a number of values. Knowing that performances are going to be challenged and getting pointers on what could have been done better being two key ones.

The flip side is to look at a debrief when things have gone really right and the team’s hit the nail on the head. There are immense learnings from that. Digging underneath the surface to know what was done and how was it done brings out what was done differently. Understanding that helps all to learn from it. Learning from your wins is very important.

Today behaviour in leadership matters. Impacting on behaviour can be done in a number of ways. One way is bringing it out is to identify who provides inspiration and connect what that person did, as behaviour, to the inspiration felt. Then look at the other side or what’s awful leadership like. What this does is bring out how the leaders actually see good leadership from their perspective. What this exercise does is that it shifts people’s thinking. Taking this further into how, as leaders, we interact with our people creates an experience. The empowerment motivates and results in transferring the experience out as the customer experience which impacts business earnings and performance. 

in leadership what’s hardest is the first step. Where the individual’s expertise and team capabilities move him or her up to be a leader. That becomes a totally different job. Starting from having people who were team mates now being people who work for the leader. This is where leadership standard and competencies get set. 

For organizations that are looking for an edge they need to work out how to recruit people who have the right attitude fit as then these are the talents that can be adapted and groomed to be great leaders. 

Roderic can be contacted at

About the author, Ross

Behavioural leadership coach committed to bringing more soul into business and reducing a leader's stress in managing their people

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