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

#41
:)

Bringing it back to the thread, do you think that was a personality issue or was it more of an issue of background? i.e. if the person had been someone who'd been there done it, they'd have believed you?

My point is, it's potentially not the leadership model that would have made one iota of difference here.
Once he'd seen it for himself he was happy to accept what I said in future so it was probably background. He'd previously been the GM of a solicitors practice so didn't have any experience of what we did.

Once he'd got his feet under the table hr was probably the best I've worked for shoreside.
 

Caecilius

LE
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#42
My point is, it's potentially not the leadership model that would have made one iota of difference here
I'm not sure you can separate the leadership model from the leader's personality. I'm generally of the view that no amount of leadership theory will make a bad leader into a good one. Someone who doesn't trust the opinions of more experienced subordinates is never going to be good even if he memories multiple leadership textbooks.
 
#43
Amen to that! Reading the last few Board Proceedings, one is left with the uncomfortable feeling that there is an unhealthy abundance of either psychotropic substances or patronage in that place.

[SoapboxRant]As for the article flagged up by the OP, it is just oversimplified coffee break clickbait aimed at driving traffic to Vanguard Solutions. There is no consensus on what constitutes 'leadership' (a study made Joseph Rost in the early nineties identified 221 distinct definitions), and certainly no consensus on what is the 'right' or 'best' theory. The MOD doesn't have a Leadership Doctrine, and the Army only produced a nascent effort in 2015 based on a blend of 'transformational/transactional' theory, with a curiously vague sniff of 'authenticity'. But what is patently obvious to anyone who has served even for a day is that no officer or NCO can possibly remain in a single leadership 'mode' 100% of the time. They have to be commanders and managers too.

Are there examples of bootnecks being charged by RM officers? Of course there are. Which means a coercive, transactional approach — which isn't a feature of Servant Leadership theory — is also alive and well in the RM. What about 'Path-Goal? Or Leader-Member Exchange? Or the more recent Authentic Leadership? The truth is, the more successful leaders tend to morph between traits that belong variously to all of the above, and more besides. A lot of this is to do with emotional intelligence, or the ability to sense when something is or isn't appropriate in a given situation. Not everyone has it. [/SoapboxRant]

If anyone is seriously interested in the shortcomings of most major leadership theories, I can recommend Prof Tourish's Dark Side of Transformational Leadership which looks at the pathologies found in cultic organisations (although the Armed Forces aren't mentioned, odds are you'll be left thinking "yup, seen that happening...") such as Heaven's Gate, Enron and Militant Tendency, and raises the question 'is too much power placed in the hands of leaders?'
Of course no leadership style is absolute--applying in all situations and practiced equally by all involved. Given the inherent variables with any human system, they are always aspirational to an extent but the occasional excursion or variance--or even failure in a given instance--doesn't necessarily negate the larger effort or principles involved.
 
#44
I'm not sure you can separate the leadership model from the leader's personality. I'm generally of the view that no amount of leadership theory will make a bad leader into a good one. Someone who doesn't trust the opinions of more experienced subordinates is never going to be good even if he memories multiple leadership textbooks.
I agree, although bad leaders can become good leaders. A bad leadership model (and associated culture) can ensure that will never happen. A bit like you can't force people to innovate but you can create a culture that will certainly kill it.
 
#45
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.
I was a member of small technical trade in the army, A trade pay, rising to T trade pay when I became a SNCO. The trade was made up entirely of OR's topping out at WO, no officers in any of our unit's, anywhere. We had administrative OC's in a couple of places but, they generally ran other unit's and only looked after us as somewhere to keep our doc's and for discipline.

We were very rarely questioned when we informed a punter about the timescales or equipment requirement for job's. When properly explained most officers appreciated some of the technical limitations and difficulties we worked within and they would accept those. We actually used to enjoy the more technically difficult and sensitive job's and used to try and find ways of getting around the equipment and time limitations we worked under. For more important time sensitive job's we used to try and educate punters, even inviting them along to show and tell how things worked.
 
#46
:)

Bringing it back to the thread, do you think that was a personality issue or was it more of an issue of background? i.e. if the person had been someone who'd been there done it, they'd have believed you?

My point is, it's potentially not the leadership model that would have made one iota of difference here.
'Platonic knowledge' ('parent-child' dyad or 'Daddy knows best') versus 'Socratic ignorance' ('adult-adult', or being comfortable that you can lead without having to know all the answers).

A hierarchy that is both authoritarian and intolerant of mistakes will be less likely to promote the latter as a 'good copy' archetype. So what you experienced had more in common with 'management' (problem and solution already known, just need to apply it) or 'command' ('Follow me!'). Professor Grint argues that 'Leadership' is what happens when novel situations pop-up to which no-one has the definitive answer; so it becomes a question of asking your subordinates. The problem here is that too many so-called 'leaders' see problems through the 'command' or 'management' lens in which subordinates cannot possibly know the answer.
 
#47
I was a member of small technical trade in the army, A trade pay, rising to T trade pay when I became a SNCO. The trade was made up entirely of OR's topping out at WO, no officers in any of our unit's, anywhere. We had administrative OC's in a couple of places but, they generally ran other unit's and only looked after us as somewhere to keep our doc's and for discipline.

We were very rarely questioned when we informed a punter about the timescales or equipment requirement for job's. When properly explained most officers appreciated some of the technical limitations and difficulties we worked within and they would accept those. We actually used to enjoy the more technically difficult and sensitive job's and used to try and find ways of getting around the equipment and time limitations we worked under. For more important time sensitive job's we used to try and educate punters, even inviting them along to show and tell how things worked.
Does a 'good egg' award exist in the army and well done adulting badge:)
 
#48
Slightly off thread, servant leadership is terribly a la mode at the mode, RMAS motto has been Serve to Lead since 1946, ISTR.

'tis true (though 1947 is when RMC Sandhurst merged with RMA Woolwich). It's also the title of Slim's book which all Offr Cadets receive and features in the Collect of the Royal Memorial Chapel:

Capture.jpg
 
#49
I worked for one RM OF-4 in my mercifully short time in the Op / Strat level HQ environment. There was no other way to say it, he just wasn't the calibre of his predecessor, a Cavalry bloke. He (the RM Lt Col) went on to command at Unit level in 3 Cdo Bde; to say jaws were hitting the floor in our open plan work area when this was announced was one way of putting it. (Deliberately vague for PERSEC)

At this time there was an RM VSO kicking around who, again, wasn't the calibre of his RAF predecessor or the Army bloke who succeeded him. I'm not in a position to criticise VSOs, and I'll never be one, but you can call what you see.

Flip side of the coin - from my time in Leatherneck, Mark Gurganus and Greg Sturdevant were every bit as s**t-hot as their USAF / US Army counterparts. I thought both were treated pretty shoddily by the USMC after the attack on BSN.
Sadly the "new model" USMC is overly risk averse and too quick to savage their own at the first hint of failing to toe the PC line. Careerism has supplanted professiionalism in too many instances..
 
#50
When I joined Her Majesty's illustrious Corps of Royal Engineers (huzzah), we had no females serving in the ranks, however we had female officers. It was explained to us using very small, often four letter, words that this was because officers didn't carry out combat engineering tasks and therefore female officers would not fall foul of the no women on the front line rule.

It never bothered me at the time, but in hindsight and the twilight of my career, its ******* Jack. Sending lads into clear a minefield that you are not allowed or able to clear yourself is not leading.

I cannot do the job of all my guys, so I get that principle, but combat engineering is common to all Sappers (huzzah) and officers should understand what they are asking the men, and nowadays women, to do.

Much has changed in the last 22 years.
 
#51
Sadly the "new model" USMC is overly risk averse and too quick to savage their own at the first hint of failing to toe the PC line. Careerism has supplanted professiionalism in too many instances..
I have heard that from a couple of the lad's I know. Being a 'Gunny Highway' is no longer considered to be acceptable, even though the character did much for recruitment to the Corp's.
 
#52
When I joined Her Majesty's illustrious Corps of Royal Engineers (huzzah), we had no females serving in the ranks, however we had female officers. It was explained to us using very small, often four letter, words that this was because officers didn't carry out combat engineering tasks and therefore female officers would not fall foul of the no women on the front line rule.

It never bothered me at the time, but in hindsight and the twilight of my career, its ******* Jack. Sending lads into clear a minefield that you are not allowed or able to clear yourself is not leading.

I cannot do the job of all my guys, so I get that principle, but combat engineering is common to all Sappers (huzzah) and officers should understand what they are asking the men, and nowadays women, to do.

Much has changed in the last 22 years.
In the case that you should never ask your soldiers to do that which you cannot (Or will not) do yourself, the R. Signals should consist only of ORs and LEs. That's not even a joke.
 
#53
'tis true (though 1947 is when RMC Sandhurst merged with RMA Woolwich). It's also the title of Slim's book which all Offr Cadets receive and features in the Collect of the Royal Memorial Chapel:

View attachment 377295
There are of course several interpretations you could put on 'Serve to lead', one of which might be 'serve your senior officer and lead your men'. Personally I'd like to look at a bigger picture, but then I never had a military career to progress [well not seriously anyway].
 
#54
There are of course several interpretations you could put on 'Serve to lead', one of which might be 'serve your senior officer and lead your men'. Personally I'd like to look at a bigger picture, but then I never had a military career to progress [well not seriously anyway].

Would not the senior officer have the same understanding?
 
#58
So we all obey orders, that hasn't always worked out well in some situations has it.
Only lawful orders I would hasten to add.
There's always a time to ignore lawful orders as well - the "unworkable" sent over the radio when 0A does not appreciate the 'ground truth' and then smashing the task. I've never had a commander get shitty if it achieved my part of his mission.

I believe it was the USMC who pioneered 'Mission Command' in post WWII forces. It worked bloody well for UK paratroopers and works well in business as well. It fosters a sense of understanding and responsibility all the way through the ranks.
 
#59
There's always a time to ignore lawful orders as well - the "unworkable" sent over the radio when 0A does not appreciate the 'ground truth' and then smashing the task. I've never had a commander get shitty if it achieved my part of his mission.

I believe it was the USMC who pioneered 'Mission Command' in post WWII forces. It worked bloody well for UK paratroopers and works well in business as well. It fosters a sense of understanding and responsibility all the way through the ranks.
I've read a number of accounts where lawful orders to 'go firm' at current locations were ignored in order to 'win' the Race To Stanley.
 
#60
There's always a time to ignore lawful orders as well - the "unworkable" sent over the radio when 0A does not appreciate the 'ground truth' and then smashing the task. I've never had a commander get shitty if it achieved my part of his mission.

I believe it was the USMC who pioneered 'Mission Command' in post WWII forces. It worked bloody well for UK paratroopers and works well in business as well. It fosters a sense of understanding and responsibility all the way through the ranks.
Very good point.
 

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