Leadership theory can be confusing. On the one hand there are over a thousand different theories of leadership. On the other hand there is view that the principles of leadership are pretty much the same in every context; so learn the principles and apply. Recent research on leadership from the CIPD (2014) suggests that key to leadership is the development of trust. Trust, of course, starts to make leadership more complex, not least because it involves getting relationships right, and this many would argue takes one into values based leadership, engaging complexity and how we make meaning and value in practice.
So how might leadership in the Armed Forces engage this debate? At first sight leadership in this area seems straightforward: a technical matter of how you achieve clear objectives in combat. In a complex global context, however, leadership in the Armed Forces is as much about managing peace as about managing conflict, about post conflict care and about care for our future society. And this means engaging not simply the troops but all the stakeholders. Developing trust then becomes a real challenge.
Brigadier Greville Bibby will begin a dialogue about this on Tuesday 28 October in a lecture for the Centre for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility. In the first of an annual Armed Forces Leadership Lecture the Centre will seek to engage the different sectors to see what this narrative of leadership has to teach us about both the nature and qualities of leadership.