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Napoléon Bonaparte

Réunion des Musées Nationau/Art Resource, NY

Cast in the heroic guise of a battlefield leader, General Napoleon Bonaparte on the bridge of Arcola, November 17, 1796. Painting by Antoine Jean Gros.

An Integrative Model for Assessing Military Leadership

by Doctor Tim A. Mau and Alexander Wooley

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All successful public, private and non-profit organizations realize that effective leadership is critical to fulfilling their mandates and missions. However, whereas the focus on leadership has been confined historically to those who occupied executive positions within an organization, the current trend has been for organizations to acknowledge the need to identify and nurture leaders at all levels.1 Leadership, therefore, is no longer perceived as the exclusive domain of middle management and senior executives. Rather, it is something that many organizations now believe should pervade even the most junior ranks.

The Canadian military is no exception in this regard. The Canadian Forces (CF) has articulated the need to initiate a change in leadership culture, one that would not only see new recruits imbued with leadership skills but also would empower them to take action. One of the CF’s recently articulated objectives was to develop decisive leaders, and it set a five-year target to “define and apply high standards for the selection, development and assessment of military and civilian leaders at all levels.”2 In the 2003 annual report of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Raymond Henault reaffirmed the commitment to foster enhanced leadership and professional development across the Canadian Forces: “Effective leadership and professional development are essential ingredients in building the CF of the future... Transformation... will require visionary thinking, as well as the ability to inspire, empower, and network.”3

However, even if it were assumed that this notion of identifying and developing leaders at all levels is a sensible one for most organizations, which is far from incontrovertible, the fact remains that it is certainly not so easily reconciled with the functionally hierarchical command-and-control culture of military units. Cohen and Tichy, two prominent leadership scholars, may be correct in their observation that command-and-compliance hierarchies are anachronistic in strong private sector organizations,4 but, in our view, it is premature to discard this form of structure in the military completely.

How, then, should the concept of leadership be perceived, and the process of leadership development undertaken in the Canadian Forces? Is it possible for the CF to embrace a new understanding of leadership in the military that lies somewhere between the two extremes of blind obedience to the commands of superiors (autocratic leadership), on the one hand, and some form of diffused or shared leadership (partici pative leadership/roving leadership/quiet leadership), on the other? Furthermore, is it the case that being a leader or providing leadership means different things, depending upon the position that one assumes within the military?

The purpose of this article is to stimulate further discussion regarding these questions by offering an exploratory, integrative model of leadership for the Canadian military. While it may be possible to develop leaders at all levels within an organization – despite the paucity of empirical evidence to support this frequent assertion – we would question whether any existing theories or models of leadership can be applied equally across an organization, from the chief executive officer down to the most junior employee. For example, is it reasonable to suggest that all employees within an organization can exude charismatic or transformational leadership? Some scholars would answer this question clearly in the affirmative.5 To our minds, however, while it may be possible, it is highly improbable. Employees at lower levels of the organization can unquestionably exude leadership, but this will likely be manifested very differently from those who occupy executive positions and are responsible for overall strategic planning and visioning, which is the level where transformational leadership should be more prevalent.

Consequently, our position is that any useful model of leadership must examine the phenomenon at different levels within the organizational hierarchy. This is particularly true in the case of the military, where the emphasis on strategic leadership is not the only element that differentiates senior officers from their subordinates. The CF operates in many different contexts, from peace to peacekeeping, including civil-military co-operation (CIMIC), to warfighting, and notions of effective leadership are not identical in all these situations. Moreover, the political aspect pertaining to the day-to-day operation of the CF must be considered. In addition to the military chain of command, there is a civilian leadership, headed by the Minister and Deputy Minister of National Defence. An integrative model of military leadership, therefore, must account for these important nuances as well as others in the external environment. Further research clearly will be needed to test the validity of this model, but this approach should prove invaluable in stimulating debate as to how leadership and leadership development in the CF should be properly defined and understood.

Understanding Leadership in the Military Context

Theoretical Overview

Several theories of leadership have been identified over the years, but it is beyond the scope of this article to provide more than a very cursory overview of the field. First to emerge was the so-called ‘great man’ theory of leadership, which essentially held that leaders were born, not made. Furthermore, those with the ability to assume great leadership were few in number. This notion was eventually displaced by the ‘big bang’ theory. According to this view, it was extraordinary events that coalesced to transform otherwise ordinary individuals into great leaders. Then, in the 1940s and the 1950s, there was a bourgeoning of studies that can be classified as trait theories. The focus turned to identifying the personal attributes, as well as the technical, interpersonal and conceptual skills of leaders that made them so successful. There are still a number of scholars whose research is founded, wholly or in part, on this sort of approach.6

The next major trend was the advent of the behaviour approach. Researchers began to address the sorts of activities and behaviours demonstrated by both effective and ineffective leaders. Attempts were made to classify leader behaviour so as to facilitate our understanding of the practice and effectiveness of leadership. The focus tended to be broadly defined categories of leader behaviour as identified by employees in questionnaires, designed with the intent of measuring the degree to which leaders were either task-oriented or relationship- oriented. Out of this analysis emerged various styles of leadership that could be placed on a continuum, from autocratic/directive, to democratic/consultative, to participative.

Situational or contingency theories – which attempted to explain leadership in terms of contextual factors, such as, the nature of the work being performed, the specific characteristics of followers, or the external environment – surfaced in the 1960s and 1970s. Other studies using this approach attempted to ascertain whether certain leader behaviours or trait patterns would be equally effective in all situations, the assumption being that they would not. This approach lies in stark contrast to universalistic theories of leadership, which offer prescriptions of leader behaviour that are optimal in all instances.

Finally, there have been a few attempts to examine leadership from a much broader perspective, bringing together different variables into a more comprehensive model. Professor Gary Yukl, for example, brings together several elements, namely situation, traits, power, and intervening variables, which he believes to be relevant to understanding leadership behaviour.7 It is a useful approach for examining leadership more generally. Efforts to develop integrative models, however, have unfortunately been minimal to date.8 Our own integrative model, which has been designed to address leadership specifically from the military context, will be outlined below.


Figure 1 – An Integrative Model of the Military Leadership.

A Preliminary Integrative Model

As with any model, the leadership model that we outline forthwith is an attempt to visually depict and synthesize a vast and complex body of research. More specifically, our aim is to offer an integrative model for understanding leadership that is congruent with the special needs and circumstances of the Canadian Forces. Our model, presented in Figure 1, is unabashedly ‘situationist’ or ‘contingent’ in orientation, since we concur with Fred Fielder, the eminent psychology professor, who revolutionized the study of leadership with his contingency theory. Fielder believes “...it is meaningless to talk about leadership outside of the situational context.”9

Situational approaches or contingency theories typically are based on the assumption that different behaviour or trait patterns will be effective in different situations, and that no one behaviour or trait pattern is necessarily optimal in all situations. Leadership situation has been interpreted in many ways by researchers over the years; some have taken it to mean physical locale, while others have focused on group member motivation, organizational structure, task difficulty and complexity, or the stressfulness of the task. We have conceptualized leadership situation somewhat differently. For our model, the exigencies of both the context in which the leadership is provided and the level of the individual in question largely determine the characteristics and skills, and, as a corollary, the leadership style required of military leaders.10 As evident from the following statement, John Kotter, a professor at the Harvard Business School, was somewhat cognizant of the need for this distinction: “...a peacetime army can usually survive with good administration and management...coupled with good leadership concentrated at the very top. A wartime army, however, needs competent leadership at all levels. No one yet has figured out how to manage people effectively into battle; they must be led.”11 Moreover, the proposed model accounts for the environmental factors, as well as the personal traits and power of the individual that palpably shape leadership in the military setting.

The first consideration when studying leadership in the military is the context. Effective leadership potentially will be defined differently in each of the broadly defined contexts of peacetime, peacekeeping, and warfighting. Peacetime is a common operational context for the Canadian Forces, since Canada faces no direct conventional military threat on a day-to-day basis. This category would also include the various domestic CIMIC activities with which the military is involved – for example, in providing an emergency response to a domestic crisis, such as the fires that ravaged the interior of British Columbia in 2003.

The peacekeeping scenario involves those situations whereby the CF is asked to join a United Nations, NATO or other bilateral or multilateral operation in conjunction with our allies. These missions also involve the implementation of the CIMIC doctrine. Although members of the CF who are deployed for such operations are not ‘at war’, these situations are often volatile and hostile, which clearly present a unique set of leadership challenges for all military personnel. Most recently, they include Canada’s contribution of naval assets to the Arabian Sea in support of the multi-national coalition fighting the Global War on Terror.

Warfighting is the final context within which military leadership is exercised. While this situation has been extremely rare for Canadian Forces personnel, Canadian defence policy continues to identify having multi-purpose combat-capable maritime, land, and air forces as its raison d’être.12 In these instances, where members of the CF are faced with extremely high levels of stress and uncertainty, the requirements for leadership are transformed yet again.

CWM Painting

CWM 19880266-001

The Great War presented many compelling leadership situations. The Defence of Sanctuary Wood, by Captain Kenneth Keith Forbes.

Second, it is important to distinguish how different styles of leadership are demonstrated at the various levels of the military chain of command. For example, leadership provided by the CDS or someone in the general officer ranks will differ from that of a junior officer. As such, the proposed model reflects the three commonly defined management levels in the organizational hierarchy – namely senior executive, middle management, and direct supervisor –13 as well as a fourth category, non-supervisory, to reflect the prevailing notion that organizations should aim to develop leaders at all levels. The distinction that we make below in terms of identifying specific ranks with particular types of leadership is by no means absolute. The main purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate that the type of leadership the CF would like to develop in its soldiers will vary, depending upon one’s rank, responsibility, role or mission.

At the senior executive level, the leadership cadre is concerned principally with defining and articulating the strategic framework for defence planning and decision-making for the Canadian Forces. The emphasis is on creating a vision, mandate and mission that can direct and inspire all CF personnel. This level would certainly include the CDS, the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, the various Deputy Chiefs, and, perhaps, the general officer ranks, but, since the military is ultimately accountable to Canadian citizens, the general populace must endorse – at least implicitly – any role that the military is to assume in society. This civilian control is maintained through our political system, which effectively means that strategic leadership for the CF also originates with the Minister of National Defence, who, by virtue of our parliamentary tradition of ministerial accountability, is responsible to the people, as well as the Deputy Minister and various Assistant Deputy Ministers of National Defence, all of whom are expected to provide the minister with a broad range of expert policy and management advice.

In realpolitik terms, however, the relatively small size of Canada’s contribution to multilateral operations means that rarely is this country able to determine strategy on its own. Canada typically has provided forces for peacekeeping and warfighting in support of NATO or UN operations, or as a coalition member, but with the strategic aims and objectives having been developed elsewhere. In the past, the exception has come where threats have been posed closer to home, for instance, during the October 1990 crisis at Oka, or when fishing resources were threatened by Spanish trawlers in 1995 on Canada’s east coast. On these occasions, the military was called out in support of national security, with the strategy originating in Ottawa. A similar context could develop if Canada were obliged to respond to an asymmetric threat to its home soil, for example, to counter a terrorist threat or action.

Intermediate management is the next level where leadership is exercised. Included in this category would be the various mid-seniority officer grades (colonel, lieutenant-colonel, major) and senior non-commissioned officers (chief warrant officer, master warrant officer, warrant officer, sergeant), who are responsible for providing leadership to still sizeable units. This leadership involves establishing team objectives and group norms. Efforts to enhance the role of senior non-commissioned officers in CF decision-making, in particular, has been recognized as a priority, because of the extremely important role that they play in transmitting values, inculcating discipline and sustaining morale.14

Lower down in the organizational hierarchy, it is possible to identify and examine direct supervisory leadership. These individuals, including the junior officers (captain, lieutenant, second lieutenant) and junior non-commissioned officers (master corporal, corporal), have responsibility for ensuring that assigned tasks are completed, and that those under their command are receiving the appropriate support and advice to guide their professional and personal development.

Finally, the fourth category, non-supervisory, accounts for those members of the CF (privates and corresponding ranks) who, in the past, would not have been expected to exude any real leadership. Today, however, there is a desire not only to promote and develop military leaders from within, but also to actively recruit individuals with demonstrated intellectual and leadership ability. Although the opportunities for these individuals to demonstrate leadership will be limited, there may, nonetheless, be certain identifiable situations when tangible manifestations of leadership are both appropriate and desirable.

The model also considers other variables, such as the power base and traits of the leader, and the external environment, which will have an impact on the style of leadership that would be appropriate, given the specific context and level. Similarly, several key aspects of the external environment will have important implications for military leadership. The civilian political control of the CF identified earlier is one. Unfortunately, few members of the public, or their elected officials, understand the military or appreciate its role in society, which often means that the political strategic vision for the military is divergent from the one emanating from the armed forces. Even if there is a mutually agreeable vision of the structure of the Canadian Forces, the politics of the budgeting process will often mean that insufficient resources are allocated to the military to fulfil its mandate. Economic considerations, therefore, are crucial.

Globalization also merits con sideration. Militaristic interventions are frequently bilateral or multilateral in orientation, which means that the CF, according to the principle of inter operability, is focusing on ensuring the seamless integration of military personnel (as well as tactics, training and technology), both across the various services and with those of our allies. At the same time, our troops are deployed to theatres across the globe, which means that they are constantly exposed to new cultural demands and expectations, as well as unfamiliar legal and ethical issues. Obviously, these factors result in some unique leadership challenges.

Technological innovation is a fourth aspect of the external environment that impacts upon military leadership. With technological advancement has come the ability to devolve leadership responsibility and decision-making down to lower levels of the forces. This, in conjunction with the evolving concept of manoeuvre warfare, has radically transformed how military leadership is perceived and executed.

These are but a few of the environmental factors that have an impact upon military leadership. Another obvious one would be the organizational, political and societal culture.15 There are other important factors we clearly have not identified. All external environmental influences should be considered relevant, and, as this model is refined and tested, explored more fully.

The importance of traits and power cannot be overlooked. Power and influence, in particular, are central to many definitions of leadership, and, therefore, it is critical to consider the actual foundations of a leader’s power, the extent to which it is either positional or personal, and how it can change over time. For example, military officers who might have exuded leadership that would be considered more positional than personal at one stage in their careers might find that subordinates confer more personal power upon them after they have exhibited courageous behaviour while on a particular mission or deployment. In short, the power base of a given leader is not static; it can, and does, change over time. Crucially, the inclusion of this variable will ensure that appropriate consideration is given to the all-important leader-follower dynamic.

The traits and skills of leaders must be examined in much the same way. A variety of cognitive, technical and interpersonal skills typically are required to assume positions of leadership, but these skills can be developed and honed with sustained effort.16 They will also vary, depending upon the context within which leadership is being exercised. As the model suggests, leader power will also be determined, to some extent, on the basis of the skills or competencies (traits) of the leader.

The final component of this integrative model is leadership style. This is the term used to describe the various types of leadership identified in the literature, including transactional and trans formational leadership, charismatic leadership, quiet leadership, primal leadership, servant leadership and autocratic leadership, among others. In her assessment of public service leadership, Joan Price Boase concluded that bureaucrats employ different styles of leadership depending on the situation: “In sum, it must be stressed that no one leadership style is appropriate in all situations. Senior managers in the public service must be prepared to be flexible, for they function in a complex and unstable organizational environment.”17 If this is true for the public service, then it is even more so the case for the military, given its greater complexity and organizational instability. Military personnel at different levels of the chain of command will be required to employ different styles of leadership, depending upon the context in which they find themselves. No one style of leadership is appropriate or suitable across all levels of the military, and leaders at a given level may need to employ different styles, depending upon the circumstances within which they are operating.


As noted previously, early research into the nature of leadership favoured the trait approach. There have been hundreds of studies conducted to determine the qualities essential to the outstanding leader, as well as lengthy listings of the many human qualities no leader could do without. Both the trait approach and the behaviour approach that followed it seemed to have particular application for and examples from the military. Major wars of the past two centuries offered up celebrated leaders – Nelson, Napoleon, Wellington, MacArthur, Patton and Schwarzkopf, for example – with distinct and varying leadership styles, susceptible to study and emulation.

While still considered successful today, later research, such as that undertaken by professors Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee, concluded that the commanding or coercive approach, typically identified with the traditional military command-and-control organizational culture, was, in fact, the least effective in most situations. They noted that the military model of leadership, which was most appropriate for the battlefield, is evolving. Consequently, alternative styles of leadership, designed to foster commitment, esprit de corps and teamwork, are increasingly being used in modern military organizations to balance the commanding style that has long been the norm.18

Recent research finds that successful leaders actually minimize their personality, while boosting the organization and its employees. Jim Collins, an independent researcher who operates a management research laboratory in Colorado, characterizes the “Level 5,” or executive leader, as someone who marries personal humility with intense professional will. Level 5 leaders have ambition, not for themselves but for their organization, apportioning credit to others, but assuming the blame when things go wrong.19 Similarly, Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones, the founding partners of Creative Management Associates, an organizational consulting firm in London, note that good leaders reveal their approachability and humanity.20 But while the trait and behaviour approaches still, perhaps, have some merit, newer methods of inquiry, such as situational theory, have emerged, and they offer the most promise for understanding leadership in the military context.

Few professions experience such extremes of situation as the military. At one contextual extreme, peacetime, the day-to-day activity of the Canadian Forces requires a strong foundation of management from the top down, as befits a large, bureaucratic organization. Therefore, what is in place is a hierarchical system of compliance, formal authority, rewards and sanctions – typical charac teristics of the transactional workplace. But the CF is not a typical workplace. The situational contexts identified back in Figure 1 mean that the military must carry out activities for much of the time (peacetime) that bear little relation to what it might be called upon to do in war, or on a peacekeeping mission.

General Sir Julian Byng

CWM 19680113-000 Album p. 35

General Sir Julian Byng, the British officer who transformed the Canadian Corps into a great fighting machine.

To be effective, the CF must be able to transform itself as external circumstances and the senior executive level dictate. The dichotomy is that while most members of the Canadian Forces spend the majority of their careers at peace, military organizations train for war. While the CF is a large organization requiring day-to-day management, its ultimate raison d’être is to train men and women for the two other contextual categories in which it is called upon to operate. The Canadian Forces exists to protect Canadians and their interests, and so leadership development programs should not be designed to create great peacetime leaders, but, rather, to develop great leaders for peacekeeping and for war.

Major-General Bertram M. Hoffmeister

DND photo ZK818 CFPU

Major-General Bertram M. Hoffmeister, Commander of 5th Armoured Division from March 1944 to June 1945. General Hoffmeister is widely considered to be one of the best of the Canadian general officers who served during the Second World War.

At the same time, the three contextual categories identified in Figure 1 do not exist in isolation. Rather, each is able to cascade to the other, and to offer lessons up and down the schematic chain. Lessons can be learned in one context and taught in another. For example, one psychological determinant frequently cited as critical to success in war is morale. Morale is a product of leadership, but it can and should be developed and nurtured in peacetime, and then used in time of need to act as a bulwark. The senior executive can build morale strategically, through strong recruitment and retention programs, sound communication across the levels, better pay and living conditions, and fair deployment rotation practices. The supervisory level of leaders builds morale at a tactical level, ensuring subordinates know that they are properly cared for and led, with opportunities provided to acquire training and technical expertise, leave, and future promotion and advancement. Morale, in turn, produces traits in both followers and leaders thought universally desirable, namely confidence, fortitude and resilience.

There is also overlap in conceptual terms. At the strategic level, sound management, established in peacetime, is the foundation for good leadership within all three situational contexts. In peacetime, few ‘followers’ would be willing to be subordinate to someone who was an outstanding leader, but possessed poor management skills. One leadership text used to teach naval officers in the United States observes: “A successful organization is usually well managed; management is an integral part of leadership. Usually leadership cannot succeed without well-executed management, and successful officers must be competent in both managerial and leadership skills.”21

But war, by its very nature, tends to act in conflict with the rigidity and formalities of transactional leadership. Eric Clemons, a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jason Santamaria, an associate at Morgan Stanley in New York and a former artillery officer in the US Marine Corps, list four human and environmental factors that characterize military conflict. They are friction, uncertainty, fluidity, and disorder.22 Perhaps this is why leadership and war have always gone hand in hand. War is characterized by fluidity, chaos, and change, and leadership is about innovating in response to change. As professors Conger and Kanungo noted, an environment in crisis is thought to be more receptive to leadership in general and more open to proposals for radical change.23

Turning to the power levels offered in Figure 1, one may generalize that, during peacetime, each level of authority reflects a corresponding and proportionate increase in leadership responsibility, as one ascends the scale to senior executive. The nature of conflict, and developing environmental factors such as technology and the doctrine of manoeuvre warfare, mean that, in recent years, it has become recognized that the same does not hold true for the peacekeeping, and, especially, the warfighting contexts. In these situations, the senior officers and civilian executive must continue to exercise leadership on a strategic scale, but leadership must also be developed and exhibited through all the ranks, so as “to best cope with uncertainty, disorder, and fluidity of combat.”24

The decisions of subordinate leaders, however, must be consistent with and also further the ‘commander’s intent.’ The aim is to give those closest to the action the latitude to take advantage of on-the-spot information unavailable to their superiors, while carrying out their broad strategic aims. It should be evident that, in order to enact the commander’s intent, subordinate leaders must be able to think like their commander. Again, this is a foundation that can be taught, and developed, during peacetime.

As previously established, at the senior executive level, leaders are principally concerned with defining and articulating the strategic framework. The emphasis is on creating a vision, mandate, and mission that can direct and inspire all members of the Canadian Forces. This concern will remain constant for each of the three identified contexts. They may call on varying skills commensurate with the situation, but the projected traits and leadership style will likely call for less dramatic transformation than that required at the middle management and direct supervisory levels between peacekeeping and warfighting. In those cases, these military leaders in the field must motivate and inspire in harm’s way, and in the face of rapidly changing circumstances.

Earlier, we discussed how certain aspects of the peacetime context become of benefit during peacekeeping and warfighting. Conversely, our research suggests that the lessons flow both ways. While it is difficult to teach the leadership traits, skills, and styles required during these latter two contexts in peacetime, it is not impossible. The US Marine Corps, for example, practises extreme training on a large scale, using live ammunition in major exercises in order to develop leadership and confidence.25 Our research and model would suggest that, in order to develop transformational leadership skills in the CF, peacetime training itself should become transformational and decentralized, with an emphasis upon both teamwork and the role of the individual. If change and fluidity are the constants found within the war and intense peacekeeping contexts, then learning to cope with and embrace change within the concept of the varying situational contexts must become a strong feature of leadership training during peacetime.


DND photo PC-2479

The epitome of air force leadership. Air Vice-Marshal Clifford M. “Black Mike” McEwen (right) while commanding #6 (RCAF) Group.


That the CF, at this juncture, would be concerned with nurturing leaders of exceptional quality is not surprising. Virtually all public and private sector organizations that want to remain competitive in a globalizing world have come to recognize that the only way to do so is to make the leadership investment. What is perhaps remarkable is the nature of the crusade being undertaken. The CF is making a serious effort to design and implement a human resources strategy to identify and develop leaders, not simply at the senior executive level, where ‘true’ leadership has traditionally been thought to reside, but at all levels of the organization.

However, it remains to be seen to what extent the Canadian Forces realistically can counterbalance the use of a commanding or coercive style of leadership in favour of more democratic and participatory alternatives. In any case, events may be overtaking developments in curricula. The reality and circumstances of 21st Century warfighting appears to be putting premium on transformational leadership development amongst junior leaders. The Revolution in Military Affairs, and circumstances following the 9/11 attacks, have resulted in the Americans placing greater emphasis on small military units, operating with greater autonomy and innovating ‘on the fly’, as in the case of Special Operations Forces prosecuting the Global War on Terror, and junior Marine Corps and Army officers fighting insurgents in Iraq.

Therefore, if the Canadian military really aspires to nurture transformational leaders at all levels, the significant leadership-training reforms that have already been initiated need to continue apace. More importantly, clearly communicated bounds on the latitude of action and initiative must be established, so that leaders still conform to the command-and-control structure necessary to the military.

In the end, it simply may not be feasible to ‘operationalize’ a military model of leadership that would see everyone throughout the chain of command fully exhibit leadership behaviours. After all, both warfighting and some peacekeeping operations will still probably necessitate, in large measure, a commanding style approach to leadership. Yet, in combat situations, it is still possible to envision ‘life and death’ circumstances, whereby even the non-supervisory ranks might be required to react spontaneously with innovation and creativity – and without direct orders – in the face of a completely unexpected contingency.

What this suggests is that the execution of leadership in the military context is much more complicated than in most organizational settings. We have attempted to capture the essence of this complexity by formulating an integrative model. Our aim was to be as parsimonious as possible in the articulation of this model, without limiting the ability to apply it fruitfully to the study of leadership in the military context.

According to this model, understanding the context within which the military is operating and the specific level of the individual in the organizational hierarchy is absolutely critical to determining the style of military leadership that is ultimately appropriate. Different styles of military leadership will be required, depending upon whoever is assuming the leadership role and the context in which he or she is situated. Therefore, exceptional leadership in the military will demand that individuals are able to choose from an array of styles to suit the specifics of a given situation. The behavioural dilemma is formidable. Even the most seasoned leaders will find it difficult to adjust their style as the circumstances dictate. Younger members of the forces, occupying subordinate positions, may find this lack of precision in the identi fication of leaders and leadership styles employed to be extremely confusing. If there is any chance for the military to successfully adapt this ‘leadership- at-all-levels’ approach, an extensive investment in training and personal development will be required.

Leadership styles will also be selected on the basis of the skill set and traits possessed by a given leader. The development of specific competency models, a pro cess already being undertaken in the Canadian Forces, is extremely relevant in this context. In addition, the model requires that the various aspects of leader power be examined and incorporated into an overall assessment of the leadership styles used. This is an explicit recognition of the importance of followers, both in terms of their perceptions and needs, to the attribution of leadership. Finally, the external envi ronment must be understood, since it will have an impact on all aspects of military leadership.

In the end, this integrative model is but the first step in a long process of investigating the problems and opportunities related to leadership in the military. Further refinement and testing of the model will be required. But it should serve to provide other researchers with a framework for undertaking the onerous, but critical, task of properly conceptualizing leadership in the Canadian Forces.

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Doctor Tim A. Mau is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph.

Alexander Wooley is a former British Royal Navy officer who graduated with a Master’s degree from Georgetown University’s Security Studies program in 2004.


  1. See for example, James Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997), p.xx.
  2. Department of National Defence, Shaping the Future of the Canadian Forces: A Strategy for 2020, 1999. Available online at <www.vcds.dnd.ca>.
  3. Department of National Defence, A Time for Transformation: Annual Report of the Chief of the Defence Staff, 2002-2003, 2003, p. 20.
  4. Eli Cohen and Noel Tichy, “Leadership Beyond the Walls Begins with Leadership Within,” in Frances Hesselbein et al (eds) Leading Beyond the Walls (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 1999), pp. 133-145.
  5. See, for example, Bernard Bass and Bruce Avolio, “Transformational Leadership: A Response to Critiques,” in Martin Chemers and Roya Aman (eds) Leadership Theory and Research: Perspectives and Directions (New York: Academic Press 1993), pp. 49-80.
  6. See, for example, Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002); Kouzes and Posner; and John William Gardner, On Leadership (New York: The Free Press, 1990).
  7. Gary Yukl, Leadership in Organizations. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1998), Chapter 19.
  8. See Martin Chemers, “An Integrative Theory of Leadership,” in Chemers and Aman, pp. 293-319.
  9. Fred Fielder, “The Leadership Situation and the Black Box in Contingency Theories,” in Ibid., p. 2.
  10. It appears that programs developed and now offered through the Canadian Defence Academy have been designed with this reality in mind. See Department of National Defence. Report on Plans and Priorities, 2005-2006. Available online at <http://www.vcds.forces.ca/dgsp/pubs/rep-pub/ddm/rpp/rpp_e.asp>.
  11. John Kotter, “What Leaders Really Do,” in Harvard Business Review on Leadership (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 1998), p. 40.
  12. Department of National Defence, Canada’s International Policy Statement: A Role of Pride and Influence in the World – Defence, 2005.
  13. Richard Paton, “Middle Managers: Upscale Supervisors or Emerging Executives,” in Canadian Public Administration, Vol. 32, No. 2 (1989), p. 245, has used this classification to describe management levels in the public service.
  14. Department of National Defence. Report to the Prime Minister on the Leadership and Management of the Canadian Forces, 1997. Available online at <www.dnd.ca> TOC.
  15. See Harry Triandis, “The Contingency Model in Cross-Cultural Perspective,” in Chemers and Amen, pp. 167-188.
  16. See Goleman et al., 2002; Daniel Goleman. “What Makes a Leader?” in Harvard Business Review. (November-December 1998), pp. 93-102; Kouzes and Posner; and Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge (New York: Harper & Row, 1985).
  17. Joan Price Boase. “Leadership in the Public Service: Renewing an Essential Management Skill,” in Maureen Mancuso, Richard Price and Ronald Wagenberg (eds), Leaders and Leadership in Canada. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 195.
  18. Goleman et al., 2002, pp. 76-78.
  19. Jim Collins, “Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve,” in Harvard Business Review, Vol. 79, No. 1, (January 2001), pp. 66-76.
  20. Robert Goffee, and Gareth Jones. “Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?,” in Harvard Business Review, Vol. 78, No. 5, (September-October 2000), pp. 62-70.
  21. Karel Montor, Thomas McNicholas, Anthony Ciotti et al. (eds), Naval Leadership: Voices of Experience. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998), p. 13.
  22. Eric Clemons and Jason Santamaria, “Maneuver Warfare: Can Modern Military Strategy Lead You to Victory?,” in Harvard Business Review, Vol. 80, No. 4, (April 2002), pp. 57-65.
  23. Jay Conger and Rabindra Kanungo, Charismatic Leadership in Organizations. (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1998), p. 23.
  24. Clemons and Santamaria, p. 62.
  25. David Freedman, Corps Business: The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines. (New York: HarperBusiness, 2000), pp. 69,168,170.


DND photo FA2006-0249 by WO Serge Peters, Air Public Affairs

Two CH 146 Griffon helicopters launch on a Maple Flag sortie out of Cold Lake.