On May 21, 2011, The Army Times (a Gannett company) published an article regarding a recent survey conducted by the Army Research Institute that reported 26% of sergeants and staff sergeants and 23% of lieutenants and captains plan to leave the Army after completing their current obligations. The reason given for making this decision was attributed to poor leadership. One of the reasons given for this exodus was the fact that officers are promoted based upon length of service not merit. Interestingly, most of our military officers have received a Bachelor’s Degree in which Leadership classes more than likely were taught, especially if their undergraduate degree was in business.
It was also mentioned in the article that many high ranking officers have demonstrated a “lack of concern” for their soldiers. A sergeant was quoted as saying that he heard, soldiers were leaving because officers lack the compassion to understand that they have to act like leaders. It is amazing that the military does not understand or emphasize the need for leaders. What is even more amazing, as least to this writer, is the fact that most of our industry leaders first served as officers in the military.
Do they (these military officers) bring this lack of concern and lack of compassion into the marketplace in the way they manage the workforce? And, if they do, and assuming that they do, what if anything, have we done wrong as teachers in the classroom? Is not working in the “real world” a hindrance for some of our College and University faculty? Theoretically, the authors of our Leadership textbooks have “real world” experience and incorporate that experience in each of the published chapters; yet, there are no guarantees that students will actually use what they learn in the classroom. Teachers can test for retention and understanding but once these students leave the classroom and graduate, there is absolutely no “follow-through” on actual usage.
Leaders, in the military (for the future), must have:
- Presence and intellect
- Creative and critical thinking
But, leaders in the civilian workforce, must also have:
- Compassion and Empathy
- Morals and Integrity
- Analytical and detailed
- Emotional strength and courage
- Communication and listening
- Patience and understanding
- Be IT savvy
- Physically fit and non-smokers
- Self-confident and high self-esteem
- Wanting to have fun
These traits, characteristics, and behaviors can be taught in all our College and University classes. And, we must teach a sense of urgency in putting into play all these concepts in the workplace once our students graduate.