As you may already know leaders hold a vital role within a team and it takes certain skills and qualities to be a good leader. Different leaders can emerge through a group of people and stand out as having those skills required and others are select from groups of people who have all be looked at or applied for the same position. In this task I am going to looking into how leaders might emerge or be selected.
A lot of people believe that leaders can emerge through groups by showing their natural abilities. I personally believe that this is true to a certain extent because all good, effective, respected leaders do seem to have a natural talent to lead a group of people to success. This natural talent consists of certain qualities that really so put them above other people who may be around them. These qualities could be:
* Communication skills
* Problem solving
* Quick thinking
A number of people have looked at and researched the type of qualities that leaders have and have come up with “Trait Theories”. Psychologists such a Bird (1940), Warren Bennis (1998), Stogdill (1948) and Mann (1959) have all come up with similar theories. They all say that leaders are people who can express themselves fully. They are people that know what they want, why they want it and how to let people what they want to a team or people. In they receive the co-operation, respect and support of their team. They explain how good leaders, such as Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandella etc, have a number of general or individual qualities or traits. Early research into traits showed that these different characteristics that appear to separate the leaders from the followers.
John Gardner looked at large number of organisations in the USA and the people in charge of them. He came to the conclusion that people who had the qualities are good leaders and have a high chance of getting tasks done effectively and quickly with the utmost success. The qualities that he found and studied we’re:
* “Physical vitality and stamina
* Intelligence and action-oriented judgement
* Eagerness to accept responsibility
* Task competence
* Understanding of followers and their needs
* Skill in dealing with people
* Need for achievement
* Capacity to motivate people
* Courage and resolution
The majority of Gardner’s qualities have certain aspects of a person’s behaviour, skills and others to do character and mental ability. More recently studies have been made on people who have a mixture of traits that might be good for particular situations.
The British Army is one of the public service organisations which has a huge emphasis on leadership and having good leaders. They have two separate levels of entry one for “squadies” and the other for officers. Before people join the Army the recruiters look for the trait qualities of a good leader within them and in their academic records and put them through the selection procedures for officer level. This branch of selection as well as being based on the general fitness required for Army life. They assess recruits on their ability to use their natural qualities and take a group of people and impose their own will on these people to get them to be and effective force for whatever situation gets thrown their way.
During this time they look for high levels of confidence when instructing people, normally their peers, on what they have to do. As well as confidence they look for problem solving skills by setting command tasks. Here the assessors look for the for the ability to make and instant decision after being faced with a challenging situation and then being able to give clear orders on how they want the task to be completed in the quickest and most effective way. This will be done at a Regular Commission Board (RCB). It is designed to find out whether a person is capable of the Army Officer’s role. Every officer applicant must pass before proceeding to officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The RCB is carried out in Westminster and it lasts for four days.
In the long run this is a good way of getting the right leaders in the Army who will lead their men to success. It is designed to take the raw natural talent of an individual and mould it into a great leader for the British Army through encouragement and expert training. This gives all potential officers the basic ideas on how to take charge of a large number of people but offers no real hands on experience until they have finished training and they are in the battlefield in a real life situation. The Army’s two tear holds very good for those who want to take the officer route but these people may be young and unable to release their potential, without any real military experience behind them.
On the other hand it holds no favours or advantages for those who took the “squadie” route. These people may be the people who didn’t have the academic grades or signs of potential before they joined but have come up through the rank structure and shown that they can take a group of people and turn them into a good team. From here it seems obvious that a person with these qualities and some sort of military experience should be given the opportunity to be an officer. It isn’t as easy as it sounds though and more often than not they will stay within the ranking structure of a “squadie”.
In other public services, such as the Police, every person starts of at the same level, Police Constable. This allows everyone to develop qualities at the same rate and eventually the right leader will emerge through the job. When people have made themselves seen for having the qualities they hold and the potential to be promoted to the next stage up. To reach this next stage they have to take part in a promotion board with and exam at the end to be promoted, to Sergeant from PC in the Police force.
This system unlike the Army gives everyone the opportunity to show their qualities and ability to be a leader. Unfortunately it’s a very long process and is subject to job availability. Just recently though the Police have introduced a “high potential” development system. Like the Armies officer training route it is a system set to spot potential early and offer a fast track to promotion with people who have the right characteristics. Similarly to the Army a weakness of this process is that candidates my lack experience and possible respect from their team.
Leaders can also emerge as leaders due being faced with a challenge i.e. conflict, operation or even a major disaster. These situations can sometime bring the best out of some people where they need to take the situation by the scruff of the neck and get the team through it successfully. Sometime this can be good when you are faced with situations like this regularly but when it comes to a day to day basis and there is nothing to give the adrenaline rush that may trigger this kind of reaction are they able to give the same type of control.
Within the public services there are a number of selection processes that evaluate and make the most of leadership shills and qualities. I am now going to look at the RCB I mentioned before and evaluate how good it is and how effective it is to turn out good leaders.
The RCB is made up of two parts the briefing and main board. All candidates have to do the two day Briefing process which assesses the candidates suitability to go on to the Main Board. It also provides information on the structure and role of the Army and also candidates will be informed on what they can expect and what is expected of them on the main board. During this briefing there are a number of different tasks to be carried out by the candidates. One of these tasks being a computer based assessment known as an ACMAP, Army Commission Mental Aptitude Profile. This gives the assessors information on the candidate verbal, numerical and abstract abilities. A long side this there are a number of other activities which bring individuals up to the same standard so that candidates can give of their best when attending the Main Board. Throughout the process various Military Officers will assess the candidates.
After this each candidate sits a debrief interview. During the interview the Officer will explain to the candidate how well they did and give them their results.
Selection for the Main Board is based upon the potential shown by candidates at the Briefing. Prior to selection, candidates will be required to meet our physical selection standards.
The briefing before the main RCB is designed to asses all candidates on their potential before taking part in the RCB which then leads on to officer training and entry into the Army at officer level. If this didn’t take place some people who weren’t capable of leading a group of people into war or like situations. From this they can select people with high potential to take part in the RCB and be very effective officer within the Army structure.
The Main Board forms the second component of the assessment and selection process for entry to RMAS and lasts four days. The Board selects from the field of suitably qualified candidates, those with the potential qualities of character, ability and leadership who should, after training, be able to command a sub-unit (platoon or troop) in the performance of common military tasks in peace and war.
Arriving mid-morning of day one, candidates complete the battery of physical assessments then go on to complete an essay and undertake the computer based assessments: Army Commission Mental Aptitude Profile (ACMAP) & Multiple Choice Assessments (MCTA). Day two gets under way with an Opening Discussion followed by a number of interviews designed to show the Army what you have to offer. Remember, sell yourself, make us want to buy. The remainder of day two is given over to outdoor activities including Opening Tasks and the Opening Race.
Day Three commences with the written Planning Exercise leading into the discussion element where you are expected to answer some questions relating to your chosen plan. It is the one part of the Main Board that candidates never forget. After being inside for the morning, attentions once again turn to your performance outside in the Command Tasks and Individual Obstacles. The day culminates in a formal dinner in the Mess, this is a chance for candidates to sample life as a young officer.
The last day of the Board is the last chance to show us what you have to offer. This is done in the form of the Closing Race where candidates must complete a number of objectives in a given time. After the race the Brigadier gives candidates a closing address before departing RCB.
Over the assessment phase you will have shown the Board members your potential and it is this that the Boarding conferences are based upon. Board members discuss the evidence that they have collected and use this to reach the Board’s decision. Candidates don’t compete against each other at RCB, they compete against a standard; above the line and you pass, below the line and you fail.
If selected, candidates will have demonstrated that they have the potential to be an Army Officer. Candidates will have rightly earned themselves a place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (provided you pass the Army medical). We aim to dispatch the result letter to candidates on a Friday afternoon so that all candidates know their result by Monday.