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Professional Development

The purpose of this website is to deliver material and resources with a common goal of enriching and enhancing character development. These resources afford leaders an innovative opportunity to continue their efforts to grow our Profession as individuals, units, and commands.

Article Synopsis

How Great Leaders Inspire Action (TED talk)

In the above-referenced TED talk, speaker Simon Sinek, attempts to explain why certain people or companies are more successful than others. He begins by talking about a golden circle pattern, set of three nested spheres labeled what (outer sphere), how (middle sphere), and why (inner sphere). The speaker says that most advertisers focus on the two outer spheres; i.e., everyone knows what they do, some know how, and very few know why. The why is the purpose, cause, or belief. Inspired leaders and organizations, the speaker contends, operate differently. They think, act, and communicate from the inside out, or from the why, regardless of size or industry.

The speaker supports his idea with examples of trailblazers, and claims that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. He says most buying decisions are made from the limbic or "gut" part of the brain, which controls decision-making, not language.

The speaker then looks at why it is important to attract people who believe what you believe. He shows the law of diffusion of innovation on a bell curve. In this, market success requires crossing a tipping point to get to an early majority. To close the gap, the speaker says, it’s important to recognize people do things that prove what they believe about the world and how they want others to see them.

The speaker concludes with two perspectives of leadership. He says there are "leaders," who hold a position of power or authority, and there are "those who lead," who inspire us. The speaker says we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to, and not for them, but for ourselves. Finally, he says, starting with why connects us to others and others to us.

Guiding Questions

How Great Leaders Inspire Action (TED talk)

  1. What initially attracted you to the Navy? Do you think it was based on the what, why or how?
  2. Do you feel that you serve with others in the Navy who have the same vision of why that you do?
  3. Do you think in your Navy career, the focus is often more on the what and the how, and not the why? How is this helpful? How is this detrimental?

Reference

How Great Leaders Inspire Action (TED talk)

Sinek, Simon. "How Great Leaders Inspire Action," TED talk. May 2010. Accessed 22 June 2018.

Article Synopsis

Listen, learn…then lead (TED talk)

Approximate length: 15:32 minutes

In the above-referenced TED talk, Retired General McChrystal, talks about lessons learned in leadership, based on his own personal experiences. He first talks about the significance of leadership and his initial experiences. He believed leaders were strong, wise, brave, and faithful, and did not lie, cheat, steal, or abandon their comrades—and still does. He explains his first lesson as a company commander, "leaders may let you fail, but will not let you be a failure."

After, 9/11, he emphasizes the importance of leadership through change, including speed, scrutiny, sensitivity, and context. The force was dispersed (over 20 countries). Here, he discovered the complexities of building confidence and trust over varied electronic mediums. In addition, the force was made up of different organizations. Here, instead of giving orders, he built consensus and a sense of shared purpose. He discusses generational differences in culture and experience, including an inversion of expertise. Here, in order to remain credible, he had to be willing to be more transparent, listen, and engage in reverse mentoring from lower.

Finally, the most noteworthy thing he says he realized about leadership is the importance of relationships. This was comprised of deep organizational bonds, such as the ranger’s creed or promise to never leave a fallen comrade, and personal ties. Here, he learned to give and receive personal assurances.

He concludes by saying that a leader isn’t good because he is right. Leaders are good because they are willing to learn and to trust. Often, he says, leadership is not easy or fair. He emphasizes trust by saying in tough environments, both leaders and their people need to be able to count on each other.

Guiding Questions

Listen, learn…then lead (TED talk)

  1. In your experience have you ever had a leader that would let you fail but not be a failure? How did they communicate with you through that process?
  2. How does your communication impact the trust in your team or relationships in your team?
  3. How do we get to a common vocabulary coming from many different backgrounds (generations, races, creeds, etc.)?
  4. Have you ever been reverse mentored?

Reference

Listen, learn…then lead (TED talk)

Ret. Gen. McChrystal, Stanley. "Listen, Learn…then Lead," TED talk. March 2011. Accessed 24 June 2018.

Article Synopsis

Lorenz on Leadership: Accountability in Public Life

Approximate length: 5 minutes

In the above-referenced article, author, Ret. Gen. Lorenz offers a simple yet profound perspective on accountability. Initially, he identifies the term accountability typically has a negative connation. He says that we usually look at those accountable as the scapegoat for when things go wrong. However, Lorenz deems accountability isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Although sometimes cruel, Lorenz contends it is essential for public trust, particularly in the case of those appointed to senior military positions of leadership.

Lorenz talks about 3 levels of accountability in public life, including individual responsibility, supervisory responsibility, and a fundamentally different or more broader scope for senior leaders.

For individuals, Lorenz states that we must be accountable for our decisions. This can be good or bad, but we should know what to expect, no guesswork involved, based on the choices we make whether or not to adhere to standards.

For supervisors, we are not only accountable for ourselves but also for setting standards, enforcing standards, and leading by example. Here, Lorenz recommends, as he did, to adjust to higher standards than the minimum, which generally creates a higher morale.

For senior military leaders, Lorenz states that we hold senior leaders accountable for outcomes, which is the nature and risk of the senior military leader’s job. The author illustrates his point with an example originally published in the editorial section of The Wall Street Journal in 1952, regarding the sinking of the USS Hobson. In this example, Lorenz emphasizes that accountability is not about good intentions or "good and well-intentioned men."

Lorenz views the contrast in senior leader accountability for others’ faults and expectations with the gravity of much more at stake. He states, "senior military leaders…are responsible for setting the right course for their institutions in a dangerous, uncertain world." Lorenz claims senior leadership necessitates taking action, sometimes swift action, to avoid crises, but also requires a proactive approach to tackling systemic concerns. When results are less than favorable, there is an inevitability of blame. Lorenz insists this type of high-level and at times cruel accountability is essential for public trust, and it is the "price we pay" to establish and maintain trust. Lorenz concludes, "the troops we lead deserve it and the American people demand it."

Guiding Questions

Lorenz on Leadership: Accountability in Public Life

  1. Do you agree with the author’s overall assessment of accountability? Why or why not?
  2. In what ways do the three levels of accountability overlap? For example, how does the individual or supervisor support the accountability of the senior military leader?
  3. As a leader, can you recall an example of how you have you been personally held accountable for a problem or situation under your command in which you were not personally involved? If yes, how did you resolve it?
  4. When military leaders fail to be accountable, what else besides public trust falls apart?
  5. In what ways is senior leadership proactive versus reactive?

Reference

Lorenz on Leadership: Accountability in Public Life

Ret. Gen. Lorenz, Stephen R. "Lorenz on Leadership: Accountability in Public Life." 33rd Fighter Wing, 28 November 2012. Accessed 13 June 2018.

Article Synopsis

What Does Ethics Have to Do With Leadership?

Approximate length: 1.5 hours

In the article, "What Does Ethics Have to do with Leadership?" the authors, Jacqueline Boaks and Michael Levine, attempt to support a philosophical connection between leadership and ethics. Additionally, the authors explore related questions, such as what role does ethics play in leadership and to what extent do ethics promote the overall effectiveness of a leader. Ultimately, at the heart of their quest, the authors seem to contend with the idea of whether leadership, in and of itself, is a noble pursuit. They maintain some of the most commonly held beliefs about the ethical nature of leadership are in some way flawed and conclude that further research should be done.

The authors initially base their points of view on the writings of Ciulla and Gardner and distinguish ethics from other characteristics of leadership, noting that ethics is always required and, in this way, is more intrinsic to leadership. They then refute this connection with four claims. The first two claims involve a general lack of agreement on two key leadership concepts, values and character. The second two claims involve personal bias and perception, how we view leaders we admire, and how we ideally wish leaders to be. The authors distinguish between prescriptive and descriptive leadership. Most often, they say, effective leadership is about favorable outcomes, regardless of whether ethics are contradictory.

The authors determine only one true connection exists between leadership and ethics, primarily established in the ancient writings of Aristotle. Here, "good" leadership can be viewed as a master art or master virtue, and is based on the concept of eudaimonia or well-being. As a master virtue, positive forms of leadership reflect virtue ethics, which result in what is described as "humans flourishing."

Throughout the article, the authors continue to find flaws in many modern writings that link leadership and ethics. They recommend further research into theories, such as consequentialism, that may more correctly connect leadership and ethics without subjective definitions, bias or wishful thinking.

Guiding Questions

What Does Ethics Have to Do With Leadership?

  1. To what extent do you think ethics play a role in the overall effectiveness of a leader?
  2. Which core ethic listed for the Navy Profession do you think is most significant to leadership? Why?
  3. Do you agree with Gardner that all leaders, in some fashion, are moral leaders? Why or why not?
  4. Do you agree with Ciulla that "ethics should be at the heart of all leadership studies?" Why or why not?

Reference

What Does Ethics Have to Do With Leadership?

Levine, M.P. & Boaks, J. J Bus Ethics (2014) 124: 225. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-013-1807-y. Accessed 12 June 2018

Article Synopsis

Will Army 2025 be a Military Profession?

Approximate length: 30 Minutes

In the above-referenced article, author Don M. Snider, offers a pessimistic view on the general direction and future of the Army. He compares the Army’s leanings towards a government Bureaucracy, rather than a military Profession. The author contends, given a tension between these two spheres, it is necessary for current stewards of the Army Profession to curate it.

The author claims as a Profession, the Army is more nimble to advance land combat expertise and foster the Ethic of honorable service and sacrifice. He cautions against just saying the Army is a profession, and says over time, some professions die off.

Citing recent reports, the author supports his thesis with three significant trends in which the Army is exhibiting a downward, bureaucratic decline. First, the Army is losing its institutional culture of trust, fundamental to the concept and conduct of mission command. The author also blames defense cutbacks and the repositioning of operations back to CONUS. Second, the Army lacks transformational leadership, briefly consisting of: 1) leader as a role model, 2) inspirational motivation, 3) intellectual stimulation, and 4) individualized consideration of subordinates. Third, the Army has an ineffective approach to character development. Too much responsibility is placed on individuals to develop themselves without models or guidance.

The author concludes by saying there is a possibility his viewpoint is too negative, given the Army’s recent emphasis to develop new expertise, and to rethink its future, focusing more on the "human dimension of warfare." However, the author states his arguments in this article outweigh most positive scenarios.

Guiding Questions

Will Army 2025 be a Military Profession?

  1. Based on the author’s definitions of Profession and Bureaucracy, from your point of view, which characteristics do you think are more reflective of the present-day Navy? Why?
  2. In what ways does the Navy promote ethics and a culture of trust?
  3. In what ways does the Navy promote itself as a Profession?
  4. Do you think the Navy struggles with some of the same bureaucratic tendencies as the Army? Why or why not?
  5. Do you think the Navy is trending to more of a Bureaucracy or Profession? Why?

Reference

Will Army 2025 be a Military Profession?

Snider, Don M. "Will Army 2025 be a Military Profession?" . Accessed 12 July 2018