BLUF: Military leadership is not a ritualistic environment that lines up 100 yards from each other taking musket shots to see who is left standing.
A lot of outsiders of the military think that we live by some sort of dictatorship and do as we are told and don’t ask questions or apply thought to actions. We are not T-800s just running around with a single mission.
In all leadership education you will find there are leaders and there are followers. There are times when you need to be a good follower and there are times when you need to be a leader. Combined Arms Group, once known as Delta Force, is such a lethal force because of the ability for the statement “When in charge, take charge.” to be so impactful. This group of soldiers allows for individuals to be proactive and accomplish a mission without a command given. If you see something wrong and you want to fix it, then you have the ability in that environment to take command and ask for tasks to be completed in order to accomplish the final solution. This can come from the bottom of the food chain.
Here is the difference between a flat organization and a hierarchical organization with great leaders. A flat organization only seems flat because everyone has the opportunity to make a difference, but there is still an understanding of who is charge of the entire organization. In a flat organization if you have an individual trying to influence from a lower position then there is a greater opportunity for the said individual to topple the leadership and inflict problems into the organization.
However, you can still have a flat organization where you empower individuals to make their greatest contributions and positively affect the organization. As a leader you still need to assert your leadership from a position or influence and not authoritative power. A definition of leadership is influencing individuals to do what you want without threats or maltreatment.
A top down hierarchy is the classic organizational style that will set the stage to accomplish the above leadership style. It is each individual level of leadership that affects whether you have a flat organization or a dictatorship. If you can empower individuals at every level to provide an impactful achievement and proactive attitude, then you can provide a culture and organization that can accomplish anything.
The military has always taught a top down leadership style, but you will never see a coup d’etat from the United States military because we do not let those individuals prosper to a level of influence. The United States military provided me with the best leadership development skills to learn and understand that the lowest person can be so impactful.
Any leader that is not providing an environment to let you do your best efforts is only leading you down a path to failure and career depression. A leadership should provide you with the ability to learn, advance and even stress out a bit because they are putting you in uncomfortable positions. As I have said in a previous post, being a leader that provides everything your teammates need and a bit of guidance, then you will be better of for it.