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

#61
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.
And no media coverage of the 'winners' thereafter!
 
#64
Sometimes no media coverage is a good thing.
Agreed. Rumour had it with 'the race to Stanley' that the RMs should be first in to send out a message (having been taken prisoner when Argentina invaded). Paratroopers being paratroopers were having none of that.
 
#66
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.
From what I have observed and been privy to, this approach has suffered greatly under the restrictive ROE the USMC has operated with in the last 20 years.
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.
From what I have observed and been privy to, this approach has suffered greatly under the restrictive ROE the USMC has operated with in the last 20 years.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#67
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.
Leaders have to lead from within their personality, it is no good if they try to pretend they are some different sort of person. That's why if you study successful leaders, perplexingly they all do it differently - look at the difference between Ike and Monty, or Bradley and Patton, or Mountbatten and Slim, or Nelson and those that learned from (Hoste etc.) him versus many other admirals of that day.

Long ago someone I knew was sent to tour around and collect leaders' views on leadership. He got a spot with the boss of the USMC who was puzzled to be even asked the question. Answer: 'I guess you look after them and they look after you'. Trust is key. When Shoup was in charge, a US Marine was asked about his own role. Answer: 'When General Shoup says go, we saddle up and go'.
 
#68
Leaders have to lead from within their personality, it is no good if they try to pretend they are some different sort of person. That's why if you study successful leaders, perplexingly they all do it differently - look at the difference between Ike and Monty, or Bradley and Patton, or Mountbatten and Slim, or Nelson and those that learned from (Hoste etc.) him versus many other admirals of that day.

Long ago someone I knew was sent to tour around and collect leaders' views on leadership. He got a spot with the boss of the USMC who was puzzled to be even asked the question. Answer: 'I guess you look after them and they look after you'. Trust is key. When Shoup was in charge, a US Marine was asked about his own role. Answer: 'When General Shoup says go, we saddle up and go'.
General Shoup was the recipient of the Medal of Honor and the British DSO during WWII and to his later credit, was an outspoken opponent of the escalation of the Vietnam War.
 
#69
Agreed. Rumour had it with 'the race to Stanley' that the RMs should be first in to send out a message (having been taken prisoner when Argentina invaded). Paratroopers being paratroopers were having none of that.
Entire units chinning off the Commander Land Forces order to secure their areas whilst surrender negotiations take place could be viewed as a serious breakdown in discipline.

What could possibly have gone wrong?
 
#70
Entire units chinning off the Commander Land Forces order to secure their areas whilst surrender negotiations take place could be viewed as a serious breakdown in discipline.

What could possibly have gone wrong?
Just boyish high spirits. Now, Lord Jackson of Pristina is in an entirely different league...
 
#71
May I add the term 'servant leader' to my long list of buzzphrases which are turned on, like a 60-watt lightbulb, drawing moths to it, to have the wavelengths seared upon their retinas, and lecturing the chrysalises that it is Word, Man? In a year or so it will be quietly cast adrift to be replaced with a bright new LED. The principles are all here, in monochrome, and they don't change, but every year great numbers of students, professors, middle-managers, military types, civil servants and journalists write papers and articles which become fashionable, and not to have their words on ones' lips becomes death to the career-minded. HR departments, and their equivalents in Governmental organisations keep close contact with the sources of these terms, usually through the wilier of the graduates joining them, and impose them throughout the organisation, to the bafflement of those drawn to the gaslights and neon-tubes.

In my last years as a manager and adviser to managements in the mining industries, I fought such wastes of working time and intellect furiously, as I can't accept that it improves anything at all, other than a spurious and dishonest evasion of the truth, which should only be shaved to its' core, not varnished, painted and blanketed with layers of bullshit.

One of the best needles puncturing the bullshit balloon was published in these pages many years ago, and I've used it (and told this before) to great effect; 'Future Army Manoeuvre' or somesuch by one of our authors. A 'search' should find it, but here it is in my hand:

Future Organisational Aggregation Evaluation – 2014+
Senior Advisor O***a
Thank you for partaking in this initial email discussion on the first cut of the Future Aggregation Evaluation concept. To avoid the chicken and egg scenario we should talk turkey here and perhaps get early visibility of the proposed generic framework so that we can get our ducks in a row. There is clearly room for a meeting of minds for a corporate approach to the overarching requirement of the main gate business case, as outlined on the pie chart you already have, to give us the equities in this issue.

We are all over the map on this one, so I am minded to give you a tasker. I want you to think out of the box and articulate a blue-skies vision which we can take forward as a think-piece in order to vector in on societal global paradigms. I know you are not sighted on this issue but we really need to leverage some coherence across the piece and engage with our pan-customer community to enable them to deliver some tangible and holistic outputs for this nutrition challenge against best-class peers.

No names, no pack drill, but if the chips are down we can fight this one up the chain of management with a view to achieving interoperability and a commonality of standards. The big cheese may be a sandwich short of a picnic, but I don't want a bun fight if the badgers come into the cake shop, so let’s pick the low hanging fruit and be prepared to move up country with this one – tamasha or no tamasha. We all know which way the cookie crumbles.

However, before jumping into bed with the idea, we must push the envelope out as far as possible with a view to joining the party before they come over the hill in some numbers. I refer to that self-licking lollipop, “Disaggregation – a Case to Answer”; it’s fast becoming a dog's breakfast. At this range I see a potential own goal on our hands and before we're completely blown out of the water we should be prepared to go around the buoy again. A wholly synergistic approach is needed; after all, a results driven mindset might have us on a slippery slope if we go off-piste. We should probably take this to a 'win win' situation and get the ticks in the boxes. At the end of the day, no one should be out of the loop and we should fast track a value-added bottom line. Our core business must remain with the movers and shakers and, if we hit the right buttons, we can flick their switch.

It is clear that we're not dealing with a level playing field and the main effort must be to cross the start line with the pot of gold firmly in our grasp before someone moves the goal-posts. The knock on effect of touching base with lessons learnt from the big picture is to go the extra mile and play hardball. There may be too much smoke and mirrors, so I suggest we park the first idea, go firm where we are on the second and surge with the third using some pretty fast footwork if we are to meet the aggressive timelines otherwise there will be nothing on the clock but the maker’s name. And no standing on the touchline just because it’s a sticky wicket.

Thinking on the hoof, I am in the picture with the more bangs for the buck argument, but we must inform the debate in the grand scheme of things. Run the idea up the flagpole and let's see who salutes it – my ears tell me that we're all reading from the same sheet of music here. Fast-forwarding slightly, I have lodged a fiver with the grown-ups, which means we’ll need a cradle to grave solution on the back burner otherwise we’ll run out of steam and end up throwing the baby out with the bath water and have to rely on the stove-piped legacy.

As to the first idea, you will need to dine à la carte to capture the underpinning metrics, and also consider the force drivers so that this workstream informs our baseline position and facilitates some boiler-plated headline goals for the future. Naturally, by teasing out the air gaps you will produce the delta and square the circle. I hear what you say but this is not a zero sum game and the actualité will need to be harmonized in order to ensure buy-in and the overall bespoke architecture. There is a basket of workstrands which will inform your chapeau-piece in the round and you must ramp these up, or down, as necessary – and don’t forget to prioritise the parameters. Fly kites if you must but we really need to test all sub-concepts to destruction, holding our stakeholders' feet to the fire, while remaining alert to the mood music. As this must be a joined-up wake-up call, the taxonomy of our change management needs to be taken forward in a timely manner. We will therefore need to cut to the chase with this project to keep empowered.

I judge that an enhanced strawman might be handy, which could chime with the hooks exposed during our recent workshop. By all means optimize the overall granularity of the piece by drilling down and mapping across to other position papers, but cross- walk or flag-up any emerging arenas so that you continue to engage with our development agenda. I believe it is time to take ownership and display intellectual rigour by clearly articulating a road map which will, of course, require milestones and signposts to give a coherent direction of travel. I aim to close the loop with a sensitivity analysis. The first cut must reflect a seamless step-change by incentivising sub-optimal solutions for those going off-line. To avoid mission creep, an enduring and robust construct is required. You may therefore need to weave in and populate a new value set. Close with the deliverables before the bar gets raised - but no quick 'n' dirty solutioneering or excursions: this would be counter- intuitive, when what is needed are enablers with the embedded fidelity to fill any lacuna.

Let me know when you are good to go with a tightly-nested capping paper, we need to get our dog into the fight asap. If you need to engage with me I'll be getting traction on my maritime platform for the next 24/7 and no throwing the toys out of the cot just because it’s Friday afternoon or you’ll be swimming with the sharks.

B Aggrey
Senior HR Advisor

In the last half century what we have seen is a radical obfuscation of language, the inexorable advance of management-speak, particularly when it comes to job descriptions. We have in fact come to the point when it seems like an error of taste to describe things as they are, a kind of agonised embarrassment about anything that seems like a linguistic put-down. In this environment where upbeat language is the norm, politicians will never talk about the future when they can talk about going forward. Orwell knew what to make of all this.
 
#72
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.
a bit harsh there.

IMHO, Chapman didn't have a dubious understanding. He'd been pushed beyond the boundaries of 'normal' thought processes.
 
#73
May I add the term 'servant leader' to my long list of buzzphrases which are turned on, like a 60-watt lightbulb, drawing moths to it, to have the wavelengths seared upon their retinas, and lecturing the chrysalises that it is Word, Man? In a year or so it will be quietly cast adrift to be replaced with a bright new LED. The principles are all here, in monochrome, and they don't change, but every year great numbers of students, professors, middle-managers, military types, civil servants and journalists write papers and articles which become fashionable, and not to have their words on ones' lips becomes death to the career-minded. HR departments, and their equivalents in Governmental organisations keep close contact with the sources of these terms, usually through the wilier of the graduates joining them, and impose them throughout the organisation, to the bafflement of those drawn to the gaslights and neon-tubes.

In my last years as a manager and adviser to managements in the mining industries, I fought such wastes of working time and intellect furiously, as I can't accept that it improves anything at all, other than a spurious and dishonest evasion of the truth, which should only be shaved to its' core, not varnished, painted and blanketed with layers of bullshit.

One of the best needles puncturing the bullshit balloon was published in these pages many years ago, and I've used it (and told this before) to great effect; 'Future Army Manoeuvre' or somesuch by one of our authors. A 'search' should find it, but here it is in my hand:
That's very clever, but as with all clichés, I'll avoid it like the plague.
 
#77
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.
I don't agree. Generally, issues are far too complex for a single individual to be sufficiently versed in all aspects of mastering them and I would argue that to permit people to operate solely to the limit of one's understanding will ultimately end in deskilling them and killing initiative.

The job of leadership is to understand what needs to be done, explain it clearly to those who need to do it and to provide them with what they need. After that, it's a question of letting them get on with it and creating the space for them to operate and the top cover to do so without interference. I don't begin to understand the sophisticated technologies I deal with, but I know how to commercialise them because I know both my limits and my colleagues' capabilities.

If you trust people to do a job, give them the 'what' and stay the hell out of the 'how'.

The greatest skill of a leader is to understand what those he leads are capable of and to create the conditions for them to deliver.
 
#78
I don't agree. Generally, issues are far too complex for a single individual to be sufficiently versed in all aspects of mastering them and I would argue that to permit people to operate solely to the limit of one's understanding will ultimately end in deskilling them and killing initiative.

The job of leadership is to understand what needs to be done, explain it clearly to those who need to do it and to provide them with what they need. After that, it's a question of letting them get on with it and creating the space for them to operate and the top cover to do so without interference. I don't begin to understand the sophisticated technologies I deal with, but I know how to commercialise them because I know both my limits and my colleagues' capabilities.

If you trust people to do a job, give them the 'what' and stay the hell out of the 'how'.

The greatest skill of a leader is to understand what those he leads are capable of and to create the conditions for them to deliver.
Also well stated.
 
#79
'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
It's a shame that a few Officers I worked with never practised what they preached, so to speak.

I've worked with several who probably relished the idea of military life with all the trappings, status and networking, but treated the concept of leading men & women as a necessary but distracting nuisance.

Sad but true
 
#80
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.
Victory has a hundred fathers defeat is an orphan, well except in a scapegoat culture when some poor subordinate takes the blame [ideally a left handed homosexual black jew].
 

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