The nature of leadership…and the role of connectivity

Some thoughts on leadership, decision making and connectivity as the British Army experiments with various systems on the Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) for Agile C3 (command, control and communication) on Salisbury Plain. 

A while ago I read an interview with a previous Commandant of Sandhurst who called out some core leadership principles: create strong teams; empower / delegate / give authority (mission command) but don’t abrogate; and servant leadership (serve to lead still a key foundation long after leaving the Army). His comment about “taking decisions where the information is” made me think: leadership and decision making is about

  • The CHARACTER – of the leader, his/her make up and how it develops with experience
  • The CULTURE – of the team and wider organisation
  • The CAPABILITIES – of the team and wider organisation
  • The CHALLENGE – faced, its complexity, criticality, context etc
  • The CONSTRAINTS (and freedoms) rules of engagement etc and finally a major constraint or freedom….

So, if decision making is where information is and mission command has to be balanced with control, and we have a generation of young leaders from Corporal to Captain used to google maps and smartphone delivered apps, and senior leaders used to the networks laid down in, say, Afghanistan – then we need to design future land and joint networks (Morpheus, Trinity, Skynet etc) that leverage that experience and provide the best network and information possible as far forward as possible.  So “broadband in the battlespace”, layers of resilience, utilising appropriate consumer technology and blends of capabilities.

We should strive to deliver the best network we can to enable best information – it will never be perfect information but the section, platoon and company group need that appropriate to the problem – and that could be multinational, inter-agency, or more focused to what’s around the corner, where’s the helicopter and is fast air or attack aviation near enough if I need it, or do I need to risk my team still further…..

We should seek to deliver tools that reinforce culture and experience – rather than constrain them.

At NSSLGlobal we have people who get these challenges, are engaged with defence customers, and seeking to play our part in enabling our successors to lead and make decisions on best available information.

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