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Fundamentals of military leadership apply in wider world

General Sir Mike Jackson and Jonathon Hogg
PA Consulting Group
Financial Times
10 April 2008


Major General David Rutherford-Jones, commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, made a number of powerful and persuasive points regarding leadership in Stefan Stern's interview article ("Leadership in the line of fire", April 3). He emphasised in particular the importance of the team (whether it be big or small), with its members bound together by a sense of common purpose and endeavour.

He also rightly stressed the personal qualities required of the leader in the military environment, encapsulated in the Sandhurst core values of courage, integrity, selfless commitment, loyalty and discipline (and to which we might add judgment and a sense of humour).

The fundamentals of military leadership are no less valid in the wider world. Leaders are required to analyse what the challenge is, and to implement the resulting plan by taking their team with them. It is that ability to enthuse, inspire and convince their team members that is the hallmark of able leaders.

Leaders must be accountable: to those for whom they are responsible, and to their own superiors. No organisation can function at its maximum effect unless leadership is at the heart of mainstream business and the expectations organisations have of their leaders are clear and make sense.

Successful leadership must be properly recognised, whether by promotion, additional reward or other means (the Army's selection process is an impressive model in this regard). And successful leadership will not just emerge: it requires a structured and progressive programme of development designed to bring out the power of analysis, the ability to motivate the team, and the honesty to examine one's own strengths and weaknesses with rigour. It cannot be left to a fixed menu of training courses, to some "tick in the box" approach.

With all the turmoil in the markets, and an increasing catalogue of visible corporate failures, these are demanding times for many professions - and the more demanding the times, the more is demanded of leaders.

Maj Gen Rutherford-Jones stated that the Army focuses on leadership "because we have no choice"; we do not believe this judgment is peculiar to the military.

Mike Jackson
Senior Adviser and Chairman of the Defence Advisory Board
PA Consulting Group

Jonathon Hogg
PA's Global Head of HR Consulting
London SW1W 9SR

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