This html article is produced from an uncorrected text file through optical character recognition. Prior to 1940 articles all text has been corrected, but from 1940 to the present most still remain uncorrected. Artifacts of the scans are misspellings, out-of-context footnotes and sidebars, and other inconsistencies. Adjacent to each text file is a PDF of the article, which accurately and fully conveys the content as it appeared in the issue. The uncorrected text files have been included to enhance the searchability of our content, on our site and in search engines, for our membership, the research community and media organizations. We are working now to provide clean text files for the entire collection.
Leadership for the Man-at-Arms
By Ensign Jamie L. Smith, U. S. Navy
The ultimate vindication for mili' tary leadership has always been expressed in terms of lives saved and lives lost. In the course of history. only the tools of warfare have changed; men still remain behind the weapons. So leadership has always been the crucial factor deciding life and death.
To lead, one must first understand the conditions of leadership in social, moral, and psychological terms as well as in military function. But to succeed one must also be able to combine these factors with an understanding of the immediate situation and make * decision which is correct. In war, the final proving ground, mistakes are costly and second chances rare.
The profession of arms is a unique duty, for its final purpose does not change regardless of attempts to obscure the reality of the job. The military man must resign himself to the grim realities of death and destruction. It is hoped that as few 0s possible will die. It is the combination of one’s own cunning, force, and determination which attempts to overwhelm and destroy the enemy. If yo0 are good enough to win, you prove that you can bind those skills togethe( successfully, with the indispensable quality of leadership.
There was a time, when strategies were simpler and all combatants used similar ones, when leadership mean1 courage, because battles were decided by hand-to-hand combat. But these are the days of push-button death, where it is possible never to see the enemy with whom one is dueling Therefore the necessary means of lead' ership have changed significantly' Courage is still important, and it al' ways will be as the foundation of one5 ability to lead, but the requirements of modern warfare dictate other qual' ities as well. Skill and training become the decisive factors, held t°" gether by courage that takes a ne^ form: logic and order displayed by 9 calm, competent leader. If you can se£ the enemy, then even though you fe‘lt him you can come to grips with the necessity of putting yourself on the f,(' ing line; but if you never see him, yol)
Proceedings / January 1
must be ready to deal with forces you can direct but not control. Leadership now more than ever is a matter of professionalism.
Ust be an organizer, who is efficient en°ugh to satisfy society, and underStands situations in terms of individUals and their limitations.
“ecause society is not going to °Ver'y concern itself with the means to accomplish an objective, the ®ader himself must be concerned, and ls leads to moral leadership. If social • a(aership is a position of responsibil- Jjy> then moral leadership is a position . trust. Suddenly leadership is not lUst a matter of objectives pursuant to Pecifications, but individuals whose apabilities must be taken into consid-
°ne hopelessly botched.
From a social point of view, leader- ^hip is a matter of responsibility con- erred upon someone for the purpose °f accomplishing the objectives of the group. This is the broadest definition °f leadership and implies a primary concern for results rather than means.
nis is leadership in its most basic terms—a means of task accomplishment. Anyone accepting a position of eadership from society, whether it be ln the form of a commission, appointment, election, or other means, should remember that receiving responsibility does not necessarily mean chat authority will automatically come Wlth it. A man may be responsible for getting a job done in a specified time Period, but that does not mean the authority to change the procedure to do e job in the most effective manner ttnll be included. Herein are the be- 8‘nnings of initiative and resourcefulness, which mark a leader—one who
tati°n, and who will ultimately make e difference between a job well done ‘he all other inherently human fac- j S’ trust defies exact definition, but I ls essentially the overall effect a ®ader presents to his subordinates *ch decides his fitness to lead. In f. °*t cases, the determination of the |. t to lead is based upon skill, intelligence, professionalism, and the way which dealings with the subordi- tes are carried out so that they do C h-'el manipulated but effectively
employed. This is the basis of leadership in its moral sense: the leader's ability to understand the potential of the men under him and to project that feeling to them, so that all concerned are satisfied with his competence.
Furthermore, moral leadership includes the ability to grasp the unstated but essential characteristics of a directive. In this sense, leadership is being able to understand the spirit of an order, and not solely the letter of its intent. This encompasses an ethical aspect, for to a military man in a position of authority, this means seeing an order in the light of life and death consequences.
The next level, psychological leadership, can be discussed in terms of leader and led, and the feelings and emotions of each. A position of authority over someone else does not necessarily imply greater experience; instead it means greater responsibility—over a whole and not just a component part—and, of course, greater accountability to the higher echelons for all actions taken.
The position of the senior is closely scrutinized by one being led. Gross mistakes in character or judgment are not easily forgiven or forgotten, nor should they be. The person in the subordinate position looks at those above himself and carefully judges their conduct, weighing weaknesses and strengths, intelligence, training, and decision-making ability. He reviews, in his own mind, the decisions made, and classifies each as right or wrong, and though he does not have a say in accepting or rejecting those decisions, he will always privately approve or disapprove, and that can make a great difference in the success or failure of the person for whom he works. It is natural that a subordinate compares himself with his leaders, for that is the path to growth and experience, but it also determines whether the subordinate will work with or merely for his leader.
The man with responsibility must prove himself every day in every decision. If he is wise he will frequently try and see his decisions through the eyes of those people whom the decisions most immediately affect—his subordinates. Leadership in this sense is a matter of continuous interaction between leader and led. To command, the leader must, without sacrificing authority, examine his own conduct and decisions as they appear to others; the responsibility to command men does not automatically imply that he commands respect.
Finally, there is leadership in its military sense, the synergism of the social, moral, and psychological approaches. The military leader counts success in terms of readiness and in smooth and efficient actions and interactions. Military leadership is judged in terms of achieving the military objective, but the means for success in any operation, as always, are men who are led.
The military leader carries an enormous burden of responsibility, for he is the ultimate instrument of national policy. He must make use of his skill, knowledge, and courage in the combination which gives the best chance of success with the least number of casualties. He should try to inspire through his judgment and ability, but he must lead, for even the most thoroughly trained technician must be directed in his course of action. To properly assume and carry out the responsibilities given to a military leader, he must make full and thoughtful use of the resources at his command. Of equal importance is his understanding of the theories of strategy and tactics, and his use of everyday tools of the trade. He must know these because any final outcome is the sum of all the individual actions.
The final testing ground for military theory and doctrine is the combat situation. The stakes are the highest imaginable—human lives—and there is no prize for second place. The responsibilities are thus enormous. Because success is so vital, leadership is vital too, for it is the factor which binds together and directs all the potential possessed by the trained men- at-arms. To prepare a leader for the job, he must be properly and thoroughly trained in all the factors of the leadership equation.
r°oeedings / January 1980