The SA Navy’s Military Training for Ratings Part 2 (MTR2) had WTC’s ‘Warrior Leadership’ course as part of their formative training.
Leadership, simply put, is about leading people. In most organisations this typically tends to manifest itself as the leader-follower model. There is a well-known saying which I used to hear leaders of men say, “either you follow, or you get out the way.”
In a military organisation, the general is the most senior leader. Legendary military strategist, Sun Tzu, believed there were no bad soldiers, only bad generals. After a battle, if the performance was not to his satisfaction, he would reportedly have his generals executed, not his soldiers.
In the Art of War, Sun Tzu backs this up by stating, “When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct… the result is utter disorganisation.”
David Marquet, Commander of the nuclear submarine Santa Fe, decided to reject this leader-follower model, and to implement his own “leader-leader” approach among his submarine crew. He contends that leaders should be at every level of an organization and strived to change the mindset of sailors trained in the leader-follower style throughout their naval education. This boils down to taking ownership. “I don’t know of a finer model of this kind of empowering leadership than Captain Marquet.” Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people.
When leaders take ownership, taking personal responsibility for failures, subordinates see this being emulated throughout the chain of command. When leaders drive their teams to achieve a higher standard of performance, it’s not what you preach, it’s what people see you doing and also tolerating. When setting expectations, if substandard performance is acceptable without anyone being held accountable – the poor performance becomes the new standard. Essentially engendering a culture of trying to fix problems, rather than trying to figure out who to blame.
In the words of Nelson Mandela “lead from the back – let others believe they are in front”.
As the cohort of MTR2’s embark on this new phase of their naval careers, entering “middle management” roles, the first step before implementing this leadership model is to know thyself, implementing “personal leadership” within their own lives. Knowing yourself, in terms of what your strengths and limitations are, what stimulates you, what your boundaries are and what drives you ensure that you can live a congruent life, expressed as authentic leadership. Mastery of self (personal leadership) begins before of all else.
Authentic leadership requires one to take total responsibility to discover one’s own destiny. The starting point of which is to know what your personal values are, having yourself validate these – without seeking outside validation. Your values form the foundation of your behaviour.
“I found it (the WTC leadership course) very inspiring and it helped me revise a few aspects in my life in order to grow.” Leading Seaman Christine Malan.
WTC’s Claudio Chiste said, “Much of the self-defence (Krav Maga) and mental strength techniques are to serve these graduates not only to get through this process, but to also serve them in the everyday life later in life well beyond this graduation day”.
In addition to self-defence, the team were taught about the “Warrior Ethos” and that to overcome adversity one needs to have “fighting spirit”, therefore the self-defence also served as a metaphor for the ability to overcome: A valuable lesson for these youth who are only at the start of their adult life.
Warrior Leadership training for military leaders in the modern era is not a new concept, with this being well established in the US Armed Forces: