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What Leadership Means, And Why It Matters In The Singapore Armed Forces

1767 words - 8 pages

WHAT LEADERSHIP MEANS TO YOU AND WHY IT MATTERS IN THE SAF?

The SAF defines Leadership as “a process of influencing people to accomplish the mission, inspiring their commitment, and improving the organisation”1. Leadership is a process of influencing others to follow a given direction and it involves three components: the leader, the follower and the outcome. To me, leadership is about the 3Rs – Reason, Responsibility and Respect.

Reason – the leader should first has clarity and know the purpose of the outcome. Only then is he able to communicate this to his followers and offer them a cause or objective that is interesting, attractive or satisfying enough for them to wish to follow. This is the first step to motivate and inspire their commitment.

Responsibility – the leader must take responsibility and ownership of all actions and decisions made during the process. He is to be responsible to his followers and guide them ethically.

Respect – The process of influencing goes beyond the use of rank, hierarchy or authority as the primary source of motivation to achieve the outcomes. The leader has to exhibit the correct values, act in a way and adopt a style that is consistent with his values.

Leadership in the SAF is important because of the nature of the job. It involves people and risks in all training and operations that we undertake. Our soldiers are the heart of Our Army and it is good leadership at every level that inspires them to be dedicated, committed and engaged in the defence of our nation.2 To achieve mission success in operations, certain risk will be involved and life is at stake. People needs more compelling reasons beyond rule and order. Soldiers in such circumstances must be led in ways that inspire rather than merely compliant soldiers. Why should a person be motivated by rewards when he might not live to enjoy them? Why would a person fear administrative punishment when compliance might lead to injury or death?3

INSIGHT 1

Figure 1. Relationship between Command, Leadership and Management4

In LLC lesson 2, one insight that I gained was the clarity of the L-M-C concept. Prior to the lesson, my understanding was that in the military, officers hold only two type of roles: command or non-command (staff and instructor appointments). I also had the thinking that command is all about leadership. I did not think that there is the element of management within command roles. I felt that my understanding was a result of the emphasis that leadership schoolhouses gave to leadership and to lead by example.

I learnt that although L-M-C are conceptually distinct, but practically in-separable for military leaders. Managers strive to bring consistency, order and stability to organisation by implementing plans and procedures, leaders on the other hand strive to motivate people to act or to change on the basis of values and principles5.

While managers and leaders are distinct roles, these roles could co-exist in...

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