Security Leader in a Military Organization Essay

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The ability to lead is an important trait in the organizational world today. With organizations encountering increasingly complex situations, leaders have a role to successfully steer their organizations through those situations. They must properly influence and guide their followers in the achievement of organizational goals and objectives (Bateman, Snell & Konopaske, 2016). Leadership ability is particularly important in military organizations. The security environment has become ever more challenging, warranting even more effective leadership (Laver, 2008). Military organizations now grapple with challenges such as craftier enemies, international terrorism, increased incidence of natural disasters, and reduced budgetary allocations. Internally, military organizations face challenges relating to issues such as personnel motivation and retention, capacity building, and veteran welfare. Yet, military organizations must constantly ensure national security. Navigating the increasingly complex security environment requires military leaders to have certain qualities. This paper discusses these qualities. Attention is particularly paid to situational leadership, integrity, people skills, effective communication, time management skills, teamwork, coping with stress, succession planning, and service leadership.

Situational Leadership

The fundamental idea behind situational leadership is that there is one-size-fits-all style of leadership (Bertocci, 2009). The leader adjusts their leadership style to fit the circumstance at hand -- the task to be accomplished and the group to be led. This means that a certain style of leadership may be appropriate for a certain task, situation, and organization but inappropriate for another. For instance, democratic and participative leadership may be appropriate in a technology organization, but may not be effective in a law enforcement organization. Equally, authoritarian leadership may work during normal periods, but may not work during periods of organizational change. In essence, situational leadership requires that leaders must be adaptive, flexible, and agile.

The relevance of situational leadership within the context of military is immense. Military organizations exist in an ever more complex and ambiguous operational environment -- technological shifts, greater availability of information, increased downsizing, constantly changing security threats, increasingly complex battlefields, and so forth. These uncertainties mean that a single style of leadership may not work all the time (Laver, 2008). At times, military leaders may need to be more transactional and other times they may need to be more transformational. Success in such an environment requires adapting leadership style to the situation at hand. For instance, what worked during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) may not necessarily work in a different combat environment or in the future. A lot has changed in the last one and a half decades or so, necessitating new or more advanced tactical, operational, and strategic approaches. Furthermore, what works during times of peace may not necessarily be effective during periods of crisis. During the latter, leadership may often be characterized by one-way communication and authoritative approaches.

The relevance of situational leadership to the military further stems from the fact that military work often requires quick decision making (Taylor, Rosenbach & Rosenbach, 2009). This is particularly true during combat. It is rare to have complete or perfect information when planning an attack or when in the battle zone. For instance, enemy hideouts and retaliation techniques may not be well known. Yet, amidst such uncertainties the military leader must make decisions. Such situations require gut and intuition as combat is often a matter of life and death. A one-minute time frame can determine whether someone survives or dies. In essence, a military leader must be a fast decision maker. They must quickly evaluate the situation at hand and make the most appropriate decision without necessarily relying on routines or previous approaches.


Truthfulness, openness, and honesty are key values for any leader. Instances of successful organizations collapsing or failing due to deficiencies in leadership integrity are not uncommon. Enron, WorldCom, and Lehman Brothers are ideal examples. In fact, organizational success has a lot to do with integrity at the top. Integrity in leadership means that leaders are committed to doing the right thing in spite of circumstances (Bertocci, 2009). Leaders with integrity consistently exhibit a certain set of values -- they are incorruptible, make ethically sound decisions, do the right thing even when no one is watching, and put the interests of their stakeholders before theirs. When a leader demonstrates and creates a culture of integrity, their followers are likely to emulate their behavior. Everyone in the organization understands the value of integrity to the organization and the consequences of not having integrity. Without a doubt, a leader may not have all the good traits associated with leadership, but integrity is one trait that should not lack. It may not necessarily be a prerequisite for success, but lack of it exposes the leader and the organization to a great deal of danger.

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Integrity is particularly important in military leadership. In fact, integrity is explicitly articulated as one of the most important values of military officers (Laver, 2008). They are obligated to do what is right, legally and morally. Lying and taking shortcuts can have grave consequences on the military and the public at large. For instance, failing to take the relevant disciplinary action on defiant officers can hamper the achievement of military objectives in one way or another. It may result in a pool of officers without regard for ethics and the law, which may tarnish the image of the military. Dishonesty on the part of a military leader can also result in the loss of lives or give adversaries an advantage.

For a leader in the military, integrity is crucial for building the trust their followers place in them (Taylor, Rosenbach & Rosenbach, 2009). A leader who demonstrates integrity in their behavior and decision making influences their relationship with their subordinates. Subordinates not only increase their trust in the leader, but also view integrity as a core value of their own work. This is because subordinates are always watching the leader -- they observe every move or decision their leader makes. In essence, a leader serves as a role model to their followers, and must constantly demonstrate the highest standards of character possible, whether on or off duty. This is vital for breeding a culture of honesty, transparency, and accountability in the military.

However, achieving perfect integrity is not an easy endeavor as human beings are inherently selfish. In addition to innate selfishness, some situations may compel a leader to surrender their integrity. During combat, for instance, it may not be in the interest of the leader to tell the absolute truth as the consequences may far outweigh the outcomes of not telling the truth. The military may also lie about nuclear tests or use corrupt means to achieve certain ends. This is, however, not unusual as every profession presents ethical or moral dilemmas. Even so, the importance of integrity cannot be overemphasized. Military leaders must constantly portray integrity.

Understanding and Connecting with People

Leaders have a responsibility to take care of and connect with their followers. This involves showing concern for the needs of their followers and demonstrating kindness, compassion, and respect (Bertocci, 2009). In the military, the spirit of camaraderie is indeed important (Laver, 2008). Effective leaders uplift the weak. They understand that an element of weakness in the team would be detrimental to the team as a whole. They also cultivate a comfortable and less rigid work environment. Ordinarily, every subordinate tends to be uneasy around the boss. An effective leader seeks to create a more relaxed environment. Simple things like handshakes, recognizing individuals for outstanding performance, and sparing time to bond with subordinates go a long way in creating such an environment. They help the leader develop a greater understanding of their followers and connect more with them. Whereas companionship between the leader and their followers is important, the leader should ensure boundaries remain. In other words, the leader should be able to connect with their subordinates while at the same time holding every one accountable.

Effective Communication

Another important trait of an effective leader is effective communication (Bateman, Snell & Konopaske, 2016). Whether through staff meetings or memos, leaders communicate virtually every day. They communicate the goals and objectives of the organization, progress, as well as changes in strategy, structures and processes. Further, leaders communicate to not only members of staff, but also external stakeholders such as suppliers, shareholders, customers, communities, and regulatory authorities. Communicating to internal stakeholders is particularly important. Effective communication within an organization is vital for familiarizing staff members with the vision of the organization, clarifying roles and responsibilities, addressing concerns and complaints, providing performance feedback, as well as gathering input from staff members.

Effective communication is essential in the military. An effective military leader is one who can communicate effectively. They can listen to others, acknowledge other people's emotions, communicate using non-verbal language, offer feedback, and properly convey roles and responsibilities (Taylor, Rosenbach & Rosenbach, 2009). Military activities in themselves involve a great deal of communication. When the military is planning a mission, leaders….....

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Bateman, T., Snell, S., & Konopaske, R. (2016). Management: leading and collaborating in a competitive world. 12th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Bertocci, D. (2009). Leadership in organizations: there is a difference between leaders and managers. Lanham: University Press of America.

Laver, H., (2008). The art of command: military leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

Taylor, R., Rosenbach, W., & Rosenbach, E. (2009). Military leadership: in pursuit of excellence. Boulder: Westview Press.

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