To of the most significant challenges is
To be a good leader, wemust have a knowledge of what level of leadership in which we work. The levelsof leadership are Direct, Organizational, and Strategic. Each one carriessimilarities, but the style in which we must lead is different. Understandingthose levels can determine one’s success or failure. This paper initiallystarted as an analysis of what an organizational leader is. However, throughresearch, it became apparent that as an organizational leader I must understandall three levels of leadership.
Direct, Organizational, and StrategicLeadership each have their roles and jobs. The questions I had to answer was whatis Direct, Organizational, and Strategic Leadership? What roles do each play inthe Army? What causes success at these three levels of leadership, and whatcauses failure? In the end, “we are all leading lives that are different, yetthe same.” (Frank, n.
d.) We all lead with the Army Values and Warrior Ethos;the only difference is how we apply them. ACOMPARISON OF LEADERSHIP LEVELSSoldiers face many challengesduring their career. Some challenges are physical, such as passing the ArmyPhysical Fitness Exam (APFT). Other challenges are emotional, such as multipledeployments away from the family. Lastly, there are mental challenges thatevery Soldier must face. One of the most significant challenges is adapting todifferent levels of leadership.
Thereare three levels of leadership every Soldier must master to be successful.Those three levels of leadership are direct, organizational, and strategic leadership.”Direct Level leadership isface-to-face or first-line leadership” (US Army, ADRP 6-22, para. 2-29).
Every Soldier and Officer has experiencedthis type of leadership at one point in his or her career. It is the buildingblocks of leadership. We begin to learn about ArmyValues, Empathy, and Warrior ethos are at Initial Military Training (IMT). Theutilization of those principles come into play at every level of leadership.The best example of direct level leadership is at IMT. The utilization ofDirect Leadership begins the process of becoming a Soldier through the DrillSergeant to Private relationship. Direct level leaders do notdirectly influence the Army. Direct level leaders affect the Army indirectlythrough the actions of their subordinates (US Army, ADRP 6-22, para.
2-29). Thedifficult task in direct level leadership is balancing mission accomplishmentwhile ensuring the welfare of Soldiers. This is where a direct level leader canleave there biggest impact on the Army. The most valuable resource intoday’s Army is the Soldier.
“Leaders do not create followers they createleaders” (Peter, 2013). Direct Leaders take care of Soldiers by making leaders.The time spent as a direct level leader is the most delicate and influentialpoint for both the leader and subordinate. The actions or lack thereof by theleader at this level can make or break a subordinate’s future. If leaders failto create leaders at the direct leadership level, the Army will fail as anorganization. “Organizational Leaders influenceseveral hundred to several thousand Soldiers” (US Army, ADRP 6-22, para.
2-31).Organizational leadership starts at the Battalion and continues to the Brigadelevel. One of the most critical skills learned at this level is indirectleadership. Because of the immense amount of people managed at this level,Organizational leaders must master the skill of indirect leadership. As an organizational leader, one cannot attemptto execute the mission in the manner that they would have as a Direct Leader.Instead, you must indirectly guide your subordinates to success, throughmentorship and accountability. The direct level leader’s primaryconcern is the here and now. Organizational level leaders must think of boththe here and now and the near-term future.
Organizational Leaders provide thebasis for mission accomplishment. At the organizational level, Leaders nolonger directly accomplish the mission. Instead, they train and mentorsubordinates to perform the task.
They do this by providing guidance derivedfrom years of experience. Another critical element to successfor an organizational leader is figuring out how to deal with both subordinatesand superiors diplomatically. You must know how to handle those at a strategiclevel assigning the mission and those at the direct level executing the task. Due to this fact, Organizational leadershipis the most mentally challenging times in a Soldiers career.Those that have been to a mega citysuch as New York or Los Angeles can attest that without the usage of stoplightscontrolling traffic, things would go haywire. Metaphorically, organizationalleaders are the Stoplights of the Army. Organizational leaders control the ebband flow of the unit. Without stable organizational leadership, even the bestDirect Leaders will fail.
Strategic leadership is, “theintegrated application of both strategy and leadership” (Sing and Useem, 2016,p. 5). It is at this level that a leader gets the opportunity to shape and moldthe Army directly. The most prominent challenge faced by Strategic levelleaders is operating in a here and now environment while maintaining long-termgoals that are in line with their vision. Being a strategic leader is aunique level of leadership that requires an entirely different skill set thatan organizational or direct leader does not possess. A strategic level leadermust be able to think outside the box while understanding what is in the box.
Although strategic leaders oftencarry the most rank and power, they can be more vulnerable than a Private.While leading organizations that can number in the hundreds of thousands it isimpossible to know every situation that is going on. Strategic level leaders are vulnerablebecause they rely on subject matter experts to provide timely and accurateinformation. The information providedcan lead to life and death decisions, with consequences that can span decadesand possibly a lifetime. It is for thisreason that those sitting on the staff at the strategic level must be thenation’s best minds and information sources.
Strategic Leadership is one of thehardest levels of leadership to evaluate. Strategic level leaders operate in amatter unlike the other forms of leadership. Direct and Organizationalleadership are about producing results now, or in the near future. StrategicLeaders results are not immediately evident. The Law of legacy states, “A Leader’s lasting value is measured bysuccession” (Maxwell, 1998, p.
129). The law of legacy applies to strategicLeadership since a strategic leader’s results may go unseen until years aftertheir departure.”Leadership is the art ofgetting someone else to do something you need to be done because they want todo it” (Eisenhower, 1954, p.
477). At this level of leadership, leadersmust be able to influence those they have authority over and those they do not.Strategic leaders must do this to pursue their vision utilizing tact andcandor.
If a strategic leader fails to get those around them to buy into theirvision, they will inevitably fail.Over the course of a career, aSoldier will serve in many different challenging assignments at various levelsof leadership. Each of those assignments will present their own set ofchallenges. Soldiers must learn how to lead at the direct, organizational, andstrategic levels to have a successful career. Living the Army Values andWarrior Ethos apply at each level.
Successful leadership can be made simple byfollowing Polonius parting words to Laertes in Hamlet “to thine own self-betrue” (Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1603, 1.3.78-80). Because we as Soldiers live bythe Army Values and Warrior Ethos, leadership can apply Polonius advice toLaertes at every level of leadership and be successful.