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JLBC: Leadership

JLBC: Leadership

JLBC Cadets can give those in leadership positions credibility that they otherwise may not automatically enjoy. Strong military cultures can significantly influence member behavior, with positive benefits including cohesiveness, courage, and organizational commitment.

Negative cultural outcomes. Military leaders must also be aware of cultural aspects that can undermine performance. Negative factors can include misplaced loyalty, resistance to change, discouragement of diversity, and an over-emphasis on a ‘can-do’ approach to assignments. Most militaries can cite examples where commitment to a mate or a unit has resulted in well-meaning individuals or groups hiding unethical practices from the larger organization. A can-do culture that too readily embraces all assignments without regard to resources risks member burnout and possibly leads to damage to equipment through the acceptance of maintenance shortcuts.


The relationship between the development of ethical reasoning, internalized values, and self-discipline is strong. The behavior of young military recruits is at first externally controlled by the use of rules and regulations through imposed discipline. Although effective, this method of behavior control is time-consuming and collapses when the rules do not extend to an unexpected situation. Similarly, in the early stages of moral or ethical development, an individual defines right or wrong in terms of what results in rewards or punishment. Overuse of the coercive style of leadership reinforces moral retardation. A leader must encourage individuals to break free from the shackles of this early moral development stage and progress to a more internally controlled state.

When specific values are internalized and used to regulate individual behavior, the need for regulations and constant supervision diminishes. Not surprisingly, there is a similar progression in ethical or moral reasoning development. At higher levels of moral action, an individual halts defining right and wrong in terms of rules and punishment and instead develops internal moral principles that define wrong and right from a universal values point of view. This is why the inculcation of civil and military values is so important. The positive outcomes of such an approach are exemplified when an individual makes a conscious decision not to bully subordinates for reasons of respect for the value of human dignity rather than through any fear of punishment. A leader’s responsibility in developing their people involves modeling moral and values-based behavior and encouraging discussion and reflection on moral or ethical dilemmas.


Mission command originates in the JLBC Command concept and refers to a command style that allows subordinates maximum freedom of action within the bounds of the commander’s intent. Mission command is a philosophy of command and a system for conducting operations in which subordinates are given a clear indication by a superior of their intentions.

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