Military Leadership in A Changing World

P. J. M. Van Uhm and Ben Schoenmaker

in The Oxford Handbook of War

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199562930
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Military Leadership in A Changing World


Military leadership is a timeless subject, which over the centuries has intrigued many thinkers. Attention traditionally focused on the highest levels of command. This article focuses on the most important aspects, from a Western point of view, surrounding the question of what it takes to be an effective military leader. Firstly, it argues that good military leadership is based on fundamental, unchanging qualities, such as competence, character, and a profound sense of responsibility. Styles of leadership may vary over time or may evolve with changing circumstances, but these bedrock qualities should always be part and parcel of our leaders' intellectual substance. As most definitions tell us, leadership is the art of influencing and directing personnel—one's subordinates—in such a way as to obtain their obedience and loyal cooperation in order to accomplish the mission. Therefore the relationship between the leader and his followers is of pivotal importance, and in this relationship mutual trust and respect are the keywords. The modern corporal, officer cannot usually adopt a predominantly negative or punitive style of leadership. He must apply other, more positive means to win the hearts and minds of the men and women under his command and to have them fulfil possibly life-threatening assignments.

Keywords: military leadership; sense of responsibility; leadership style; art of influencing; directing; war organization

Article.  7055 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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