Academic journal article Military Review

Army Leader Development and Leadership: Views from the Field

Academic journal article Military Review

Army Leader Development and Leadership: Views from the Field

Article excerpt


THE CENTER FOR Army Leadership (CAL) Annual Survey of Army Leadership (CASAL) assesses and tracks trends in Army leader attitudes, leader development, quality of leadership, and the contribution of leadership to mission accomplishment. Over 100 questions cover topics on the quality of leadership and leader development. The results of the 2010 CASAL are summarized here in three main sections: leader development, effects of character and climate on leadership, and professional military education (PME) in leader development. (1)

The CASAL provides research guidance for policy decisions and program development. It is an authoritative source that uses a large, random representative sample and a rigorous scientific approach for survey development, data collection, and data analysis, and it calibrates its findings with other Army research. Data was collected online from a representative sample of over 22,000 Regular Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard officers (second lieutenant to colonel), warrant officers (chief warrant officer five), and noncommissioned officers (sergeant to command sergeant major).

Approximately 22,500 Army leaders participated, with a response rate of 16.1 percent. The large, random representative sample, combined with comparisons with other Army research, allows for high confidence in the accuracy of these findings. Responses are both quantitative and qualitative.

Leader Development

Trend data indicates that Army leaders are lacking in developing their subordinates for future leadership roles. Data collected from 2006 to 2010 consistently show that Develops Others is the lowest rated Army Leader Core Competency. A two-thirds favorability rating has been established in research as a threshold for acceptability. Since 2006, no more than 61 percent of active duty Army leaders have rated Develops Others favorably. (2) While this competency has improved in the last several years, it is still well below the acceptability threshold and rated much lower than all other core competencies.

This area is important because it affects both current and future generations of leaders. Those leaders who are currently not being properly developed by their superiors will not know how to properly develop others in the future.

The lack of leader development is not limited to just superiors' demonstration of the competency. In fact, the CASAL examined leader development from several angles, including leader development within units as well as development through professional military education courses. When asked what level of priority their unit placed on leader development within the unit, only 46 percent of Active Component (AC) leaders indicated it was a high or very high priority while 24 percent indicated that it was low or very low. This is the lowest level of perceived priority reported on the CASAL.

When asked how effective their direct superior was at calling attention to leader development opportunities, only 59 percent of those surveyed responded that their superior was effective or very effective. In fact, just 49 percent indicated that their superior would support their attendance at institutional training if it required that they miss a key unit event, and 33 percent were convinced that their superior would not support their attendance. This indicates a breakdown beyond firsthand leader development and shows that, to a large degree, leaders are also not helping their subordinates to develop through other sources. Perceptions of poor leader development affect beliefs in commitment to the Army and trust in the Army as an institution. Of those who indicated that they did not believe that the Army was headed in the right direction to face the challenges of the next 10 years, 26 percent indicated that this was because of the poor quality of current Army unit leader development.

Changing the culture of the Army with regard to leader development may be difficult given the currently high OPTEMPO. …

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