Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Jan-Feb 2015 Contents In the previous issue of MHD, I wrote about
formative leadership experiences as a junior
military logistician. This month, I will provide
insights from these experiences.
To hold a commission in the Australian
Army you must be prepared to lead, potentially
in conflict, and to have your leadership
scrutinised, not only by your supervisor but in
some cases by the media and the Parliament.
Central to navigating a path through this
minefield is your character, behaviour as a
leader, and, most importantly, the quality of
decision making you display.
Character and behaviour. We all have a
character of our own -- it might be that of
an alpha male; a concluder-producer; you
may be shy; you may be a dominant female.
Whatever it is, understand its strengths and its
weaknesses. Be true to yourself, but work to
mitigate the weaknesses. There is room for all
these characters in an organisation, but their
excesses must be curbed. In the Army, the
soldiers are looking for all-rounders who can
cope consistently in all situations.
Whatever drives a person's character, whether
it is religious conviction, desire to succeed,
patriotism, family tradition -- it is important to
ensure it is underpinned by ethical behaviour.
Military leaders are expected to be above
reproach. Honesty and integrity are paramount.
If a leader cannot be trusted, or cannot be taken
at their word, they cannot remain as the leader.
Ongoing education, mentoring and confidantes
are key to reinforcing this.
In being ethical, other matters to be aware
of are: sexual conduct, anti-discrimination
legislation, equity and diversity, natural justice,
administrative and procedural fairness and in
the Army, the Laws of War. You cannot ignore
any of these. In my behaviour, I follow the
dictum 'fair, firm and friendly'. It has served me
well over the past 35 years. In relation to the
above, beware of what you put in an email.
In addition to an ethical workplace, I also put
great emphasis on a safe workplace.
One particular caution I give about
behaviour is to be wary of becoming a zealot
in the workplace. Muslims have the saying:
'only Allah is perfect'. Organisations can
tolerate imperfections. It is important that we
occasionally see humour in what we do, and
that we are prepared to show compassion for
fellow workers when they occasionally fail. Help
them learn from their mistakes.
You must have pride in your organisation. As
a leader, you must be prepared to fight for the
reputation of your organisation.
Decision making. In the military, we receive
the best training in decision making to assist with
solving complex problems. Leaders must master
decision making, and it should be central to their
daily routine in any leadership situation.
This provides the best chance of consistently
solving problems and implementing solutions
over an extended period. This is the mark of a
leader in any organisation.
I do not recall ever reading in the epitaph of a
great leader that 'they looked smart in uniform'
or 'they were very good at administration'. The
great leaders solve complex problems and lead
their organisations through the implementation
of the plan. Australia's General Monash, in
1918, solved the problem of advancing across a
machine gun-swept no-man's land -- the rolling
barrage supported by tanks and aircraft. He
brilliantly executed this on 8 August 1918 at
Amiens and this became known as Germany's
'black day' of World War I.
I encourage junior leaders, before they
present their supervisors with a problem,
to ensure they have analysed a few options
for solving the problem, and to present their
supervisor with these options.
When implementing a plan, the Army uses
a directive control approach. Subordinates are
given the trust and resources (without which
there is no plan) to operate within a left and
right of arc. They are delegated the authority to
get on with solving the problem.
The Pareto Principle is of value here. I
advocate a focus upon the 20% important issues
that will achieve 80% of the objective. The
remaining 80% of issues are low return. This is
another way of saying 'don't be a micro-manager'.
In my career, I have found that the path to
success was to understand the art of leadership.
I trust you have benefitted from a few of the
insights I have gained on leadership from my
experience as a junior logistics leader in the
The LAA Ltd Board is currently leading the LAA
Ltd through the most significant transition since
formation: a transition to the next phase of its
development. We will be guided by four objectives:
1. National governance with directors selected
2. Application of e-commerce and social
networking principles to membership
3. Professional development based on
4. Education through world class conferences
and multi-media communication.
Brigadier Allan A. Murray CSM is the
president of the Logistics Association of
Australia, Limited. Contact Allan at
IN LOGISTICS --
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2015
62 LAA NEWS
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