Military and Leadership
In any environment whatsoever, the main targets, the paraphernalia, the products and team-leadership are all great aspects of running a business, all of which require talent, energy and a considerable amount of insight. The article “When Good Companies Do Bad Things” by Peter Schwartz highlights the importance of these aspects through the crucial significance of companies being ‘good’ and having the reputation for it as well.
Schwartz states that there is a growing importance of reputation in the competitive world of global branding. We all like to believe that we’re working for good companies and that our systems are ethical, humanitarian and in the interest of the betterment of people. However, with the rising complexities in the globalization of the market, he draws from the examples of big companies such as Shell, Nike, Microsoft and Texaco, all finding themselves paying the price for a task as simple as to paying too little attention to the importance of reputation.
The comparison of the aforementioned multi-billion dollar businesses with a military unit may not be high in terms of product and sales strategies, yet the aspect of units of men working for a certain target with a certain image before people is highly common between both these instances. A military unit, much like a corporate unit, works on the principle of task-orientation. It also believes that its goals are ethical and in sync with the good of mankind. The simple personal experience that I had of watching the troops walking, saluting and parading in formation is a clear-cut example of the height of conformity within its set up.
However, Hawkins (2007) reports the research conducted at Los Alamos, recognizing that the “behavior of a group of people depends strongly on the interaction of personal (individual traits) with the collective moods of the group as a whole”. This simply means that the high levels of conformity we see in the formation and smooth working of a battalion is also connected deeply with the individual’s interaction with the whole. The same way a platoon is influenced by its unit members’ passion and dedication towards their goals, the corporate set up is also directly influenced by values in the system.
Integrity, as interpreted by Schwartz, is: being well-integrated with one’s society and understanding what the society’s expectations are. I agree to this definition as it has the potential to create more aware institutions. Capitalist set ups, by definition, are businesses run for the sole purpose of making a profit (Haralambos and Holborn, p. 8). The age of media and technology grows faster today than it ever did – therefore it is better to have emerging corporate culture, which has encoded in its basic structural DNA, empathy and a sense of compassion for its surroundings.
It is indeed so in the military that an environment of debate is not encouraged in the military set up. It is the belief of experts that ‘saluting without questioning exemplifies the military’s ‘can do’ attitude that can create an optimist out of even the most skeptical naysayer” (Wong and Lovelace, p. 2). In the military the ability to prepare or get ready to fight, skill in actual fighting and the will to prevail in combat against a foe, are the critical dimensions of leadership (Hawkins, n.p.).
The military may also find itself faced with disastrous results if it chooses to ignore the voices that exist outside its barracks. The example of the Iraq and Afghan wars, Abu Ghuraib jails, the American public speaking out against the War, are plenty for the world media and global peacemakers to click their tongues and wonder at the foreign policy of the United States of America. Schwartz mentions that corporate magnates sometimes end up baffled with certain results because they have almost no contact with the outside personnel, which play an equal and a highly effective role in shaping their commercial and corporate success.
Retired Army Major General John Batiste spoke openly regarding the War in Iraq, outlining the importance and sway of the respective socio-political system on the task of the military, “Military leaders of all ranks, particularly the senior military, have an obligation in a democracy to say something about it”. In the case of German post-war governments, learning from mistakes and paying attention to what the world is saying is making a big point in their arguments.
Post-war governments have claimed to maintain a conscript army in order to safeguard against political extremism in the armed forces (Paterson, n.p.). Similarly Major General Bill Rollo had a whole briefing about the concern of military commanders regarding the effect of bad publicity on morale, and “particularly over a series of high-profile cases involving the alleged abuse of Iraqis by British soldiers” (Norton-Taylor, n.p.).
It is apparently fair to an organization if the perception of the market-consumers shape its reputation. The company gains profits through the masses which pay for their goods, which in turn help it run its business, big or small. It is, as says Schwartz, not possible to completely fulfill the needs and aspirations of the working team and the consumers. The company must strive and motivate the circle through addressing their needs and choices as much and as far as they can.
I would personally lead my company/unit by way of establishing a culture of bringing out the best products through the maximum information provided not only by the society’s general consensus, but through the voice of the working individuals of the team. It is in the inherent nature of man to seek expression. By appealing to this very nature, I would direct and lead the company into more responsive whole rather than a conformed group of tight-rope walkers who won’t know when trouble actually hits them because they were too busy listening to orders.
Haralambos, Mike and Holborn, Martin. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives. United Kingdom: Collins, 2000.
Norton-Taylor, Richard. Top brass fight to save army’s reputation. December 30, 2005. The Guardian. October 2nd, 2007. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/dec/30/topstories3.iraq