Effective Management Is Impossible Without Strong Leadership
Vladimir Zelenskyi’s first year as President and the almost simultaneous personnel changes in the government and in the security and defense sector have sparked strong debate in the community about the results of his activity. Among the most frequently mentioned topics are the quality of the personnel policy and the efficiency of the performance of the functions of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Holding the highest office in the state gives the winner the moral right to offer one or another target audience his ideas to make the world/country better. Perfectly written strategies, programs, plans, and public support can be presented to win the society’s support. But the long-term criterion for evaluating the above-mentioned is the state of their coming true.
…Implementation of the best intentions into more or less real/perceived results is possible if there is a number of components. But perhaps the greatest role should be played by the presence (or absence) of effective management…
I am sure that anyone with minimal leadership experience will confirm that the implementation of the best intentions into more or less real/perceived results is possible if there is a number of components. These include the political will to implement declarations, availability of resources, human resources and a team of like-minded people. But perhaps the greatest role should be played by the presence (or absence) of effective management, in our case, the state management in national security.
Most modern management approaches take into account and maximize the use of the phenomenon of leadership. By the way, starting at the lowest levels. For example, the cadet of the US Military Academy at West Point is being prepared to be first and foremost a leader and then a platoon commander or other military specialist.
The thesis may be developed more deeply, but there is its short alternative: effective management is impossible without strong leadership. There are also successful examples of the following. Foreign — Charles de Gaulle or Carl Gustav Mannerheim. Domestic — Heorhiy Kyrpa or Colonel General Henadiy Vorobyov spring to mind. Of course, they are all different, but they have common features: statesman’s outlook, professionalism and reputation as a strong leader.
Accordingly, true leadership is also based on several factors, the first of which is the moral right to be a formal leader and lead people. For the security and defense sector, the phrase “to lead people” has a special meaning — in many cases it is necessary to lead people to accomplish a dangerous combat task.
…True leadership is also based on several factors, the first of which is the moral right to be a formal leader and lead people…
In turn, the true leader practically never acts as “one soldier can make a battle”. In the implementation of any project (from national to local level), he relies on a team of like-minded people, which he leads. Together, they are “agents of change”. A team of like-minded people is usually formed on the basis of shared values, as well as the motivation and self-motivation of its members. Reality shows that one (but not the only) of the most powerful motivators is often the possibility of a “social lift” for these agents of change. Translated into “military” language, this means open and transparent career prospects for a serviceman where he sees a “window of opportunity”, his own perspectives and algorithms for achieving professional, personal, and social goals related to his career to serve to his state. Accordingly, under this approach, protectionism, subjective factors of estimating and appointing to posts, breach of guarantees and human rights, are out of the question.
Understanding this approach gives us the key to uncovering the true reasons behind the declared but unfulfilled intentions, promises, failed projects and scandalous conflicts related to the state’s national security and defense over the year.
During the year, repeated personnel changes were made regarding senior officials in national security and defense sector, in the President’s Office, the NSDC Office, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, and a number of other conditionally speaking security agencies. In each case, there were specific officials’ names, formal and real grounds for dismissal, their context, etc. But they all have one thing in common: the inefficient/under-professional management (in other words, failure to meet the expectations of key stakeholders and society) is the result of the absence of efficient leadership due to those people’s having no moral right to be a leader. Formal official statuses that allow to exercise the authority of the high position are of some importance, but do not play a decisive role. We deliberately do not name of any ex-officials. Our task is to give the readers, first and foremost, an analytical tool for understanding the situation that will allow them to draw their own unbiased conclusions.
The failures of personnel policy in the security and defense sector have undermined the prospects for a social lift for military personnel and civil servants (as well as other motivating factors) and have led to a lack (or weakness) of teams of agents of change. In support of the thesis I will give the argument: can any of the esteemed audience of readers give successful examples of competitive examinations (with the participation of alternative candidates) for the replacement of vacant positions of senior staff, especially among military? Practice has shown that the main criterion for appointments was the degree of closeness to team members who made personnel decisions. The small number of competitive examinations that really were conducted (in the President’s Office, in the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, etc.) also confirms the opinion that first a decision was made about a particular person and then the person “miraculously” won the competitive examination.
So, I repeat that, based on the above considerations, the readers themselves can make comparisons of the names of high-ranking officials with their particular appointments and their resignations during the year.
…The criterion of the success should be practical work to prevent, contain and efficiently address challenges and threats to the national security…
We can also mention the failures in communication with the main target audiences. Of course, we have seen numerous “reforms” on Facebook (or rather — read about them). But most of us were watching real life at the same time. And we saw some contradiction. Namely — ignoring the “golden rule” of communication — “80% / 20%”. In which the first number is the requirement for work on real matters/projects, and the second — the work on their media coverage. And in no way vice versa.
So, the lack of a moral right to be a leader and the personnel “filters” that failed to motivate/involve agents of change in reform teams, plus the lack of real public support (through communication failures) — in the aggregate explain the real reasons for the inefficient state management in the national security and defense sector.
A strong leadership means the clear understanding of all the above-mentioned and the ability to create and motivate a team and to rely on it. Instead of “zero-sum game” of authorities and influence and even intrigue, numerous examples of which we were able to observe. Only a true leader gathers strong personalities, consciously leaving the “comfort zone” and realizing in advance that it is difficult to work with such personalities and sympathy will not be decisive factor in relationship.
Correct diagnosing of the problem helps to choose the best way to resolve it. The situation in the national security is very complex, but it has not become critical. But at the same time, realities require rethinking the approaches and bold steps that are often not very comfortable for the leaders. The criterion of the success should be practical work to prevent, contain and efficiently address challenges and threats to the national security.