Having a vision for change is not enough, understanding the change process and providing effective leadership for its successful accomplishment is key. Leading transformation, especially in large organisations, involves appropriate negotiation, building consensus, analysing complex and ambiguous situations, thinking innovatively and communicating effectively.
People often think of the armed forces as rigid, highly regimented and hierarchical organisations. However, in the military, as in any other organisation, giving the order might be the easiest part; execution is the real game! The hierarchy starts with the leader who provides the vision, wisdom and motivation. Leadership means forming a team and working towards common objectives that are tied to time, metrics and resources.
According to Senator Ike Nwachukwu, “Leadership is also about engagement. As a retired Military General, I can challenge the misconception that military is all about authoritarianism and dictatorship and not about consultation and engagement”. He further explained that “Leadership is about setting clear direction, knowing how to use the resources – human and material, available to you and employing the right people that can successfully articulate, cascade and deliver the vision.
According to him, gone are the days when leaders stay in mansions behind the lines and dictated impossible orders to troops on the battlefield. He said a successful military strategy works on a combination of careful briefing to establish a clear understanding of the mission objectives and then a delegation of responsibility right down the chain of command.
In the military, the leader combines the different aspects of command to inform a strategic option. The leader then makes informed decision and gives the execution order. Supporting commander, commanders of units and battalions will then align with the common purpose, vision, strategy, and direction, regardless of individual views about the strategy.
The purpose of the commander and the staff is to do the planning and then motivate the execution. To successfully deliver a mission, there must be a good alignment between leadership ability, delivery capabilities and engagement with the team. Leadership must be inclusive but firm! The moment the order is given; the commanding General must be strong enough to ensure that the order is executed.
Managing expectation is another critical factor in leading successful change. This involves a change–leader seeking out and building effective communication bridges to all stakeholders, and then using those bridges to understand and to help the constituents understand their roles in the change process. This goes beyond the simple perspective of communicating the vision, to a complex system of consistent and conscientious communication that evolves as the change initiative progresses”.