How Relevant Is Royal Marines "Servant Leadership" Beyond the Military Context?

#1
#2
Interesting subject matter. I am a firm believer in knowing how to do the job through practical self experience before being allowed to be in a position to tell people to simply get on with the job. MBA's are useful for conceptualising and strategic planning, however the school of hard knocks teaches valuable lessons in practical leadership.
 
#3
Interesting subject matter. I am a firm believer in knowing how to do the job through practical self experience before being allowed to be in a position to tell people to simply get on with the job. MBA's are useful for conceptualising and strategic planning, however the school of hard knocks teaches valuable lessons in practical leadership.
Wholly agree.
 
#4
I am getting married to an MBA... great on theory. I have been led by MBAs... great on theory: how many times did I have to listen to their theory; somewhere out there is a SGT who knows how to lead; sorry @jumpinjarhead given the choice of a SGT or officer, I would choose a SGT or someone commissioned from the ranks, as someone I could follow.

Perhaps after 20 years away, officers are changing, but, I doubt it. from what I have seen to date.

@History_Man

PS Hope you're doing well.
 
#5
Corporates with their graduate entry programmes are generally not well thought through - there are good one’s but, they are rare. The run of the mill graduate entry scheme breeds a class of self entitled, blame shoveling, back-stabber’s.

Put potential and future leaders through an organised programme where they have to get their hands dirty for a couple of years and it changes. Back in the day many of the larger corporates used to run their graduate programmes lasting up to 2 years before the individual was officially no longer a graduate trainee. They used to place them in as many roles as possible, from front line to autonomously running with small projects.
 
#6
I am getting married to an MBA... great on theory. I have been led by MBAs... great on theory: how many times did I have to listen to their theory; somewhere out there is a SGT who knows how to lead; sorry @jumpinjarhead given the choice of a SGT or officer, I would choose a SGT or someone commissioned from the ranks, as someone I could follow.

Perhaps after 20 years away, officers are changing, but, I doubt it. from what I have seen to date.

@History_Man

PS Hope you're doing well.
Hearty congratulations and thanks @Riga. I started my 34 year career as a private and was a sergeant when commissioned off the battlefield. I have, however, also served with some officers who did not have that in common with me who were both competent and inspirational leaders as well who engendered confidence in and respect from their NCOs and OR.

The type of problematic officer to which you and @Effendi allude can be mitigated to some extent through training (such as the "servant leader" approach of the RM and the similar mentor/protege approach I have seen in the USMC). Of course these services are small relative to the overall military forces of each country and have smaller officer corps with commensurately smaller end strength needs.
 
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#7
Corporates with their graduate entry programmes are generally not well thought through - there are good one’s but, they are rare. The run of the mill graduate entry scheme breeds a class of self entitled, blame shoveling, back-stabber’s.

Put potential and future leaders through an organised programme where they have to get their hands dirty for a couple of years and it changes. Back in the day many of the larger corporates used to run their graduate programmes lasting up to 2 years before the individual was officially no longer a graduate trainee. They used to place them in as many roles as possible, from front line to autonomously running with small projects.
Again, we are in total agreement.
 
#8
An oldie, but still relevent.

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost.
He reduced altitude and on spotting a man below, he shouted,
“Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
The man below replied,
“You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”
“You must be an NCO,” said the balloonist.
“I am,” replied the man, “How did you know?”
“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help so far.”
The man below responded, “You must be an officer.”
“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”
“Well,” said the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s all my fault!”
 
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#9
As a YO joining the Royal Marines I had a number of friends of my age who were all joining the RN the RAF and the Army. I noted, with a little surprise, that I was joining as a commissioned officer while they were all joining as cadets.

Any feeling of superiority I might of had disappeared instantly upon entering 'the system’. We trained alongside the recruits who had entered with us, and has been mentioned, anything they did, we had to do just a bit better.

It engendered their respect, and our confidence that we had proved that we had been held to a higher standard.

Our blue beret with red flash also reminded us that we had not yet proved ourselves until we had finished Commando School... along with the friendly reminder that," I’ll call you sir, but for now I won’t mean it!"
 
#10
Interesting subject matter. I am a firm believer in knowing how to do the job through practical self experience before being allowed to be in a position to tell people to simply get on with the job. MBA's are useful for conceptualising and strategic planning, however the school of hard knocks teaches valuable lessons in practical leadership.
You can lead those who have the technical knowhow without possessing it yourself, however, and I've yet to meet someone who really remembers this at all times, you must accept that if they say the job takes five days not three or can't be done without thing X you can't afford to buy, they are correct and amend your plans accordingly. The risk in this, as happens with politicians and civil servants, is that they then con you into doing nothing by bullshitting you about the difficulties.
 
#12
I am getting married to an MBA... great on theory. I have been led by MBAs... great on theory: how many times did I have to listen to their theory; somewhere out there is a SGT who knows how to lead; sorry @jumpinjarhead given the choice of a SGT or officer, I would choose a SGT or someone commissioned from the ranks, as someone I could follow.
How about an RM Sgt with a dubious understanding of LOAC like (ex-Sgt) Alexander Chapman? To assume that SNCOs automatically have better leadership abilities than Commissioned Officers is trite.

Nevertheless, it is an important point. There are some clueless DE officers out there and some clueless LEs too, as well as clueless SNCOs. Neither Mess has a monopoly of virtue.

The RM model of Officer training suits them. It probably wouldn't suit the Army, which is a much bigger organisation. It is also worth remembering that the RM YO's course is the CC and PCD combined, so to ascribe its whole length to purely officer training would be a false analogy.
 
#14
I am getting married to an MBA... great on theory. I have been led by MBAs... great on theory: how many times did I have to listen to their theory; somewhere out there is a SGT who knows how to lead; sorry @jumpinjarhead given the choice of a SGT or officer, I would choose a SGT or someone commissioned from the ranks, as someone I could follow.

Perhaps after 20 years away, officers are changing, but, I doubt it. from what I have seen to date.

@History_Man

PS Hope you're doing well.
I don't really agree with that - I was commissioned from the ranks and it gave me some leeway with the men, but I acknowledge there were better officers and leaders than me who had joined directly as an Officer Cadet. Those who join direct have a far steeper learning curve when they are commissioned, but the truly good ones take in the learning and continue to improve throughout their careers.
 
#15
When it works properly, it works well. But fake it and becomes dreadful.

In my current shop there is a lot of noise around "Leadership", "Engagement" and "Authenticity".

This could be because a lot of people are pissed off by a growing blame culture that is being generated by absentee leaders dropping bean counters into key roles (in place of people who actually knew what they were doing) all of whom seem to operate on the basis that nothing is impossible as long as somebody else has to do it.

Now all the great and good above a given level have to go on a "Journey" towards the lofty goal of "Engagement" which seems to involve wasting a lot of time talking about it.

Kick off event was last month, an afternoon event with dinner afterwards during which the Global CEO was scheduled to impart his wisdom on the importance of Leadership, Engagement and Authenticity.

He was too busy to attend and sent one of his minions.

The fish does indeed go rotten from the head.
 
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#16
I was once told that most people are promoted to the point where they're most likely to fail.

I pondered this somewhat, and assigning that logic to many that I've known, realised that it was probably correct. One more step, one more responsibility, a slight change in direction, and it would all come tumbling down...and no doubt, it would be my fault :rolleyes:^^
 
#18
How about an RM Sgt with a dubious understanding of LOAC like (ex-Sgt) Alexander Chapman? To assume that SNCOs automatically have better leadership abilities than Commissioned Officers is trite.

Nevertheless, it is an important point. There are some clueless DE officers out there and some clueless LEs too, as well as clueless SNCOs. Neither Mess has a monopoly of virtue.

The RM model of Officer training suits them. It probably wouldn't suit the Army, which is a much bigger organisation. It is also worth remembering that the RM YO's course is the CC and PCD combined, so to ascribe its whole length to purely officer training would be a false analogy.
My understanding from a mate who is a mid-seniority Officer in the RM is that there is an element of 'essential and practical' in the everyone attends Lympstone concept.

Simply put, with c40-50 YOs undergoing training per year, and a couple of hundred 'nods' (enlisted recruits), if they want a 'Commando Training Centre' - which, according to my friend, is one of the icons of the Corps - then they are almost bound, by numbers & geography, to train everyone at that location. When you are dealing with such small numbers you gain synergies & savings by doing joint YO & nods training exercises. There is an argument that they couldn't really do it any other way, and the integrated training concept [nods seeing the JOs getting beasted etc etc etc] is a very beneficial spin-off, but not the primary reason for the concept.

Lastly, and no offence here JJH, but I stand wary of 'fetishising' Marines (or indeed any other group of people, apart from aviators clearly:p:p:p).

No-one is ten feet tall and made of titanium (contrary to what the Bootneck publicity machine would have you believe). Plenty of other units & organisations train people hard, instilling in them a sense of esprit de corps and a belief that they will smash any task given. Not many other organisations feel the need to constantly carp about it, in the same way I have seen from the RM in the operational and headquarters environment.

I cite the example of a presentation I sat through years ago when an RM OF-5 briefed on their Op HERRICK experiences; through nuance, carefully shaped phrases and slides, and intelligent use of photos and interviews, had you just landed from Mars you would've been forgiven for thinking that 3 Cdo Bde on HERRICK was entirely RM. When a SCOTS DG bloke sitting next to me piped up and asked why there'd been no mention of the CS / CSS elements provided by the other services (primarily but not exclusively the British Army), aforementioned OF-5 literally went purple, from the neck up (no pun intended).
 
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#19
@Solo Dave, are the RAF moving all recruit training to RAF Cranwell?
Affirm, H_M. Timescale I'm not sure, and it is centred around the "economies and logistics" concept that I mention in my previous post. At the moment Cranwell graduations are c50 cadets on 3 occasions per year; there simply is no argument to maintain DIOT, or OACTU,or whatever it's called this week, for those small numbers.

Edited to add - I believe that now, Officer Cadets and Direct Entry Airmen Aircrew graduate together when the timings permit.
 
#20
Both Messes have their share of complete *******, as well as gleaming superstars, on a normal distribution. Most are somewhere in the middle and pretty competent. I left the Army as a SNCO but somehow found myself in a position where I was often working with - and sometimes over - ex OF-4 and above. No dramas, everyone smart understands that the Army's the Army and rank matters there, the outside's the outside and rank doesn't, particularly, there.

I tend not to agree that the leader should be able to do everything the led can - but he should have the essential skill of understanding what the outcomes from the leds' activity should be and have the even more essential skill of knowing when he's being lied to - or gently led to a conclusion which the led desire, but which may not accord with the facts, to be tactful about it.

The RM approach is fine for what's essentially a small, highly selective light infantry force, where there is a close and mutually understanding relationship from day one between nod and potential Rupert and the two sides understand each other well. I'd like it if the RMA gave a bit more insight into soldiers, actually - my sense, from many years ago, was that a number of officers didn't much enjoy the company of soldiers, which made me rather wonder about their career choice.
 

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