USAWC course paper
key competencies for 21st century strategic leaders
LTC JP Moore
24 October 2012
U.S. Army War College
Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 17013
It became clear to me [as the Chief of Staff of the Army]…I would have to learn new tricks that were not taught in the military manuals or on the battlefield. In this position [as a strategic leader] I am a political soldier and will have to put my training in rapping-out orders and making snap decisions on the back burner; and have to learn the arts of persuasion and guile. I must become an expert in a whole new set of skills.
George C. Marshall
After a review of the ...view middle of the document...
The aforementioned key strategic leader competencies - mental agility, cross-cultural savvy and effective communication skills – are not the only strategic leader competencies required of our 21st Century strategic leaders. Nor does this essay advocate ignoring the tactical and operational competencies that strategic leaders have garnered throughout their distinguished careers. Our tactical and operational competencies are complimentary; and it is implied that strategic leaders possess the abilities to develop and provide vision; intent; and exercise sound, ethical judgment. These competencies and the plethora of other supporting strategic competencies outlined in the United States Army War College’s Strategic Leader Primer and the FM 22-100, Army Leadership Competent, Confident, and Agile are additive to one or in some cases all of the three key competencies and holistically developed over a career. The absolute importance of the aforesaid three key competencies is that they are unique in their value and application at the strategic level vice the tactical and often the operational level. The first key strategic leader competency to be addressed is mental agility.
Developing the mental agility required to operate as a leader at the strategic level is derived from the possession and ability to draw on and place into context the multiple perspectives and frames of reference built from professional and personal life experiences; and both formal and informal military and civilian educational and developmental programs. Building perspectives and frames of reference is a conscious and life long effort for the strategic leader. It is these cognizant collections of experiences that provide the leader with the agility to easily refer backwards to interpret and understand current complex information and events observed within the VUCA and JIIM environments before acting in a manner that is not conducive to the production of feasible solutions.
Developing mental agility is key to allowing a strategic leader to operate effectively and collaboratively both inside and outside of his or her organization. Well developed strategic mental agility enhances the ability to ask questions; understand volumes of information; and incorporate relevant information and alternative views from subordinate organizations, internal staff members, and exterior JIIM partners, competitors and opponents. Therefore, it is accurate to conclude that mental agility impacts other key strategic leader competencies. The professional and mindful endeavor to mature tactical and operational perspectives and frames of reference into a strategic mentally agile capacity bears on and is beneficial to developing the second aforementioned competency of Cross-cultural savvy.
To identify and solve strategic problems the key requirement for strategic leader possession of cross-cultural savvy and its capacity to build durable, meaningful relationships with JIIM actors to execute legitimate,...