Military Leadership Into the 21st Century

There are a number of different issues regarding the military that are important to learn about and understand, and one man in particular addressed these specific concerns in a report, titled Military Leadership Into the 21st Century: Another “Bridge Too Far”? The man was Walter F. Ulmer Jr. , and there are many issues that he brings up in this report that are of significance, namely his position on searching for contemporary ‘best practices’.

The term best practice is used quite commonly in the military, and it is defined as being a “superior method or an innovative practice that contributes to improved performance of the process. The practice must demonstrate through data that it is ‘better, faster, cheaper’. Best practices highlight the many world-class innovations taking place throughout the army”. (Leading Change, 2007). These best practices are displayed or classified as being in a few different categories, which are: administration, contracting, distribution, financial resource management, maintenance, operations, quality management, and repair.

In terms of Ulmer’s position on searching for these best practices, we can see from his report that he is very negative regarding this issue, as we can see particularly from one specific comment he makes: “The most optimistic reading of collective quantitative and anecdotal information on the current state of morale is discomforting. Measures of trust, commitment, and morale have shown localized problems over many years. The confluence of organizational and environmental pressures at this moment, however, presents institutional response challenges of a different order of magnitude” (Ulmer, 1998).

It is made very clear throughout his report that he believes large, complex organizations are very alike and that there are many differences between the civilian and military sectors, of which result in directly affecting leading section and development. His three assumptions on a comparison between Best Practices in the Army and US Corporate Structures is definitely very interesting, and in particular that a “supportive, rational organizational climate is essential to attract, motivate, and develop high-quality people”.

(Ulmer, 1998). I definitely agree with this statement of Ulmer’s, in that the organizational climates offered by an organization are going to greatly affect the types of people that are going to be interested in getting involved with it. Early opportunities can help incredibly to support leader development, and as Ulmer puts it, “Here the Army is ahead of everybody. No institution does it better. Most lieutenants have opportunities to lead groups of significant size in performing challenging tasks.

They are exposed to command and staff relationships and resource management early on”. (Ulmer, 1998). There are a few key points in Ulmer’s article that cause me to reflect on my chosen profession and the career path that I am presently on, namely when he discusses how “Some percentage of individuals seems to have been immunized against significant adult learning, either by genetic happenstance or by early development neglect.

But leader success rates can be improved by a combination of conceptual training, developmental feedback, environmental support for continuous learning, a performance appraisal system that attends to both development and selection, and a system for promoting leaders based on more than written reports from superiors in the organization”. (Ulmer, 1998).

Basically what I get from this is that he is making a point that even if an individual has undergone certain circumstances in which they have failed to get to where they wanted to be due to whatever reason, that they can still get there as long as they focus and use developmental feedback and performance appraisal to their advantage. Overall there are many conclusions that can be made from this article, and without a doubt I do believe that it is still valid today, because it offers insight and information into issues that are still incredibly important, especially in regards to the Army which is in the forefront of the media today.

Works Cited

Army Business Transformation Knowledge Center. 2007. 11 September 2007 http://www. army. mil/ArmyBTKC/focus/cpi/ibp. htm Leading Change. ‘Best Practices’. 2007. 11 September 2007 < http://www. hqda. army. mil/leadingchange/Reinvention/bestpractices. htm> Ulmer Jr. , Walter F. 1998. 11 September 2007 http://www. carlisle. army. mil/usawc/Parameters/98spring/ulmer. htm