UNDERSTANDING HUMAN CAPITAL IN INDIA: ARMED FORCES AND THE CORPORATE
Colonel Harsha Kakar
Head of Department (Strategic Management)
College of Defence Management
College of Defence Management
Tele 040-27886619 (O)
E Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
“Wars have been fought, technical developments have taken place, missiles and nuclear warheads have changed the very complexion of warfare, so that our survival has become a problem. But for us soldiers one thing has remained unchanged, one thing for us soldiers has remained fixed and unchanging. Our task today is the same as it has always been. And what is our task? Our task is to fight to win wars, to defeat the enemy. If you lose, the nation is destroyed.”
Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw
Address to passing Out Officers
Indian Military Academy 14 Jun 69
1. India is a country of people with a multitude of values, cultures, beliefs and attitudes. There are over eight hundred linguistic and 560 ethnic groups of different races, religions, castes and tribes. In spite of this the country is still maintaining a true unity in diversity. People of India are strongly united on the issue of nationhood but emotional bonding and integration amongst various ethnic groups are yet to be cemented. The people also maintain strong personal and social identities on different pretexts. This distinct identity makes any ethnic group different from one another.
2. India formally became a nation state in 1947. Till then the cradle for what can now be called Indian culture, society and civilization, had been a loose confederation joined by a similarity of social and cultural customs and practices. The physical boundaries of India have almost never been identical to what the boundaries of today are. They have always been far broader. Thus the country as it exists today is a composite of multiple influences in a civilization which has continued to evolve for more than 5000 years.
3. Our culture has continuously been affected by a series of invasions, the last one being the British. Thus there were long periods of ferment to which India reacted subconsciously, absorbing the new elements and changing in the process. These influences percolated through all aspects of culture including language, religion, and traditions resulting in a situation where different groups co-existed in mutual harmony despite the differences of language and religion. In spite of all these invasions and modifications, the evolution of Indian society and culture has continued its course along with the march of time.
4. Any society or substrata of society that comes to stay for a long time develops its own norms of give and take. It creates for itself norms of good and bad, injustice and justice, of what is social and what is antisocial, of wealth and of poverty. The society that fails to give itself lasting answers to these issues will collapse. It is in the reconciliation of these contradictions that lay the secrets of an enduring society.
The National Human Resource
5. Unemployment has been on the rise in our country. At first glance, it does seem that the armed forces with their comparative job security are a lucrative career. However, the army certainly does not get the best talent. Police, other central and state government agencies and the paramilitary forces are preferred. Amongst the educated or even semi skilled, the army is way down in their preference for a career, as all surveys have shown. Healthy, dedicated boys with a rural agrarian background wanting to serve their nation are a thing of the past. Growing unemployment, breaking up of the joint family and higher economic aspirations has together combined to push more individuals to the towns. These are the families which are now a major source of manpower for the industry as well the armed forces. In general, they are physically softer, more literate, rights conscious and protest oriented. They exhibit a sense of confidence borne out of acquiring of skills, knowledge and power. These personnel are more demanding and more easily disillusioned. It is this manpower that the Armed Forces, the Corporate, government agencies get and develop for meeting their respective goals and tasks.
6. Thus what is common is that the basic manpower available to the armed forces, other government agencies and the corporate are the same. As far as the educated youth are concerned the armed forces do not get the elite as they opt for the better paid, privileged and easy life offered by the corporate and other central and state government agencies. Yet it is with this human resource that the armed forces achieve a far greater sense of cohesion and results than the other organizations.
7. Field Marshall Sir William Slim wrote in 1943 during the Burma Campaign, “My Indian divisions are amongst the best in the world. They will go anywhere, do anything, go on doing it and do it on very little?” What made Jadunath Singh, Somnath Sharma, Arun Khetarpal, Albert Ekka, Captain Batra and innumerable other unknown and unsung heroes sacrifice their lives in the prime of their youth? What continues to inspire the Indian soldier to heroic heights of glory, gallantry and valour? What is the driving force that keeps this great Army firmly on the rails?
8. There are a number of reasons for this. Some of these can be adopted with some modifications by the corporate whereas others are too specific to the organization. This paper aims to analyse these differences under the following main areas:-
(a) Culture, Values and Ethics.
(c) Leadership. 9. In addition it should be understood that the main contributors for the success of any organization are its personnel at the functional level. The strategic and the directional level lay down the vision, goals, policies, guidelines and the frame work for functioning. It is the functional level that produces the desired results. Thus this paper would deal with mainly at the functional level.
CULTURE AND VALUES
10. Values can be defined as those things that are important to or valued by someone. Values and ethics are central to any nation and organization. Values determine what is right and what is wrong, and doing what is right or wrong is what we mean by ethics. The first ethical precepts were passed down by word of mouth by parents and elders, but as societies learnt to use the written word, they began to set down their ethical beliefs. These records constitute the first historical evidence of the origins of ethics.
11. Indian heritage and culture are acknowledged worldwide for their invaluable contribution to human growth. Indian school of thought has wide acceptance because of the immortal teachings of our classics. Therefore the culture of today is a direct outcome of a progressive and continual process of enlightened evolution of collective norms and practices which took roots since the inception of the Indus Valley Civilisation in this part of the world.
12. In the recent past liberalisation and restructuring of the economy had been a major influence on the population in general and especially on the business and the industry. Another relatively recent but important feature of our society has been the growth of materialism. This has been linked with economic liberalisation and restructuring as well as the spread of electronic mass media, particularly television. All the above developments have taken place against the general backdrop of increasing urbanisation, gradual breakdown of the traditional rigidities of the caste system particularly in urban areas, increasing spread of literacy and education, and above all rising levels of awareness and expectations.
Indian Values and Ethics
13. Indian ethics have been philosophical from the start. In the oldest of the Indian writings, the Vedas, ethics is an integral aspect of philosophical and religious speculation about the nature of reality. These writings date from about 1500 BC. The middle class in India have been the real bearers of moral and ethical values.
14. The Indian Value system is based on the premise that social environment is indispensable for human evolution. This approach helps the growth of human emotions, the spirit of self sacrifice and a sense of responsibility which enhances social security. The individual would learn to identify himself with the larger humanity and outgrow his lower nature. Non violence, truth, adherence to duty, tolerance, peace and love are the pillars of our value system. Our constitution has incorporated values such as secularism and socialism in the preamble itself.
Organizational Culture and Values
15. Basically organization culture is the personality of the organization. There is no single definition for organizational culture. The topic has been studied from a variety of perspectives ranging from disciplines such as anthropology and sociology, to the applied disciplines of organizational behaviour, management science and organizational communication. Organizational cultures are created, maintained, or transformed by people. An organization’s culture is, in part, also created and maintained by the organization’s leadership. Leaders at the executive level are the principle source for the generation and re-infusion of an organization’s ideology, articulation of core values and specification of norms. Organizational values express preferences for certain behaviours or certain outcomes. Organizational norms express behaviours accepted by others. They are culturally acceptable ways of pursuing goals. Leaders also establish the parameters for formal lines of communication and message content-the formal interaction rules for the organization. Values and norms, once transmitted through the organization, establish the permanence of the organization’s culture.
16. Organizations, to some extent, define what is right or wrong for its members. One place where values are important is in relation to vision. One of the imperatives for organizational vision is that it must be based on and be consistent with the organization’s core values. When values are shared by all members of an organization, they are extraordinarily important tools for making judgments, assessing probable outcomes of contemplated actions, and choosing among alternatives. Perhaps more important, they put all members “on the same sheet of music” with regard to what all members as a body consider important.
Role of the Military
17. The primary role of the Armed forces is to defend the nation against external aggression but of late in India, this has taken lower priority over ‘aid to civil authority’ in various forms, including the proxy war in Kashmir. The military has been an arm of the state, created specifically to pursue the purpose of the nation, to defend it from potential enemies. From this larger purpose flows the immense and awesome responsibility of leading men into battle, of ultimate sacrifice, of having the lives of fellow human beings in one’s hand.
18. It is this that makes society view the military profession as a final reservoir of its most precious human values. Thus the army as a profession is clearly amongst the most noble, as its function involves preservation of the highest human values, collectively referred to as the nation’s way of life. This is why whenever an incident of incorrect or unacceptable behaviour affects the armed forces the nation looks at it as a matter of shame.
19. The military ethic foremost accepts the supremacy of the nation state. The military exists for the survival and well being of the state and not vice versa. In an ideal state, the military is the most noble of the professions as “its function involves the preservation of our highest human values, collectively referred to as our way of life.”
Armed Forces Values and Ethics
20. Each nation has its own tradition and values built up over the centuries. One of the most important and all pervading concepts of moral values in all of the Orient is the concept of ‘Namak’ or salt. One is simply expected to be faithful to the person whose salt one has eaten. There are numerous examples in our history where a soldier or a prince, once having accepted to serve a king, would do so irrespective of his own feelings, faith and at the risk of his life. Philip Mason writes: “Combination of loyalty and expectation was strong in the Indian Army. The recruit brought it with him from the village and gave his allegiance to the regiment, to the army, perhaps specially to a single officer; perhaps to all officers of the regiment… it was something officers and men both understood without words. It was knit them in a close bond, from which the rest of the world excluded.”
21. Indian armed forces have an alien culture, which is not understood by the large majority of Indian citizens. According to Peter Stephen Rosen, ‘The Indian army after independence did not develop a unique Hindu culture…Instead, it elected to continue to follow the British way of life which appears absurd to anyone from outside the army.’ Our morals, ethics and value systems are derived from our traditions and rich heritage. The British created the modern Indian Army “based on the concept of honour – the honour of the regiment and of the ‘class’ and of the personal honour of a man who must respect himself and stand in honour before his comrades in the village and the Army.” Janowitz states that ‘honour’ is the basis of the military’s belief system.
22. On the face of it, almost everything about the organisation and structure of the Indian Army militates against the possibility of such greatness. The salaries are a pittance, the hardships immense; units comprising pure Sikh or Jat troops may be led by Tamilian and Assamese officers or vice a versa;’ the life style of the leaders and the led are widely different – and yet in peace they serve each other with loyalty and in battle lay down their lives for one another. Why? Is it because of patriotism or is it because of ‘izzat’ – personal, of the community or caste, or the organization? Is it because of his leader has so motivated him that he puts the thought of his wife and children behind him and rushes into a hail of bullets, to fall and never rise again ?
23. None of these questions can be answered so simply. No one is more aware than the professional soldier that the normal man is no hero. The military, however, organizes and conditions men so that they can overcome only because the Army has been nurtured on the core values for many years and because it has been led at the functional level by officers of character, of strong moral and ethical standing-a direct outcome of which is the spirit, the loyalty, the camaraderie, the pride and selflessness that the men imbibe and develop while in service to the nation. A soldier, and particularly an Indian one, is willing to face any hardship or deprivation and even pay the supreme sacrifice in battle primarily for the officer he regards and for his comrades-in-arms. The quality of leadership, mainly at the functional level, its character and its moral strength, thus assume immense importance in the Army. Wherever this leadership is non existent or low the results will be poor and operations a failure.
24. A brief summary our Indian and military values and ethics as well as those of other countries is as given below:-
|1||Freedom||Wisdom||A world at peace||Freedom||A sense of accomplish-ment||SelfRespect|
|2||Happiness||TrueFriendship||NationalSecurity||Happiness||An exciting life||Happiness|
|3||Wisdom||Freedom||Happiness||MatureLove||Freedom||A sense of accomplishment|
|4||SelfRespect||A sense ofAccomplish-ment||Freedom||SelfRespect||Self respect||Freedom|
|5||A sense of accomplish-ment||MatureLove||MatureLove||TrueFriend-Ship||Family security||Wisdom|
|6||Mature love||SelfRespect||Wisdom||InnerHarmony||Mature love||FamilySecurity|
25. The relevance of the Army’s values, for example, is apparent. When soldiers may be called upon to expose themselves to mortal danger in the performance of their duty, they must be absolutely able to trust their fellow soldiers (to do their fair share and to help in the event of need) and their leaders (to guard them from unnecessary risk). So the Army’s values prescribe conditions that facilitate trust, a necessary element in willingness to face danger. Without trust, risk tolerance will be low, as will combat effectiveness. Other highly respected traditional values are ‘Izzat’ and ‘Vachan’, roughly translated as ‘honour’ and ‘word of honour’. Personal honour relates to self-esteem, élan, personal ‘Izzat’ and self-respect in an individual. A highly developed sense of personal honour born out of self respect is the most relevant and essential element in soldiering and leadership. Honour is the most enduring of all values and “is often what remains after faith, love and hope are lost.” Military honour is both a means and an end. The code of honour specifies how an officer ought to behave, but to be “honourable” is an objective to be achieved for its own right. When military honour is effective, its coercive power is considerable.
26. In no other walk of life, except the military, is a citizen expected to pay the supreme sacrifice or to put behind him his personal life. “Men work in factories for cash but they do not die for the honour of the factory.” Thus, while military ethics may not be very different from that of other professions, what puts them on a higher plane is that the proving ground is more rugged and the stakes are much higher.
27. There is sufficient evidence that in the military, moral values have a much bigger role to play than in most other professions. During battle, or when faced with ethical dilemmas during peace, these values give the officers something to rely on when his perspectives seem to blur, when rules and principles seem to waver, and when he is faced with hard choices of right and wrong. These are something to keep him on the right track, something to keep him afloat when he thinks he is drowning.
Erosion of Values
28. The erosion of traditional values from the Indian society has more or less kept pace with the industrial development of the country. Old values of ‘duty, honour and country’ are no more appealing to the younger generation. The degrading quality of the political leadership of the country has also acted as a catalyst to this phenomenon. Therefore, as one commentator has observed, ‘it is doubtful whether in the present day India, patriotism and glory of the service play any great part in attracting good quality youth to join the officer cadre of the army.’
29. The degrading standards in present day society has its affects on the Armed Forces, particularly its leadership which is drawn from that same society and is, therefore, as vulnerable as the man next door to the pressures and stresses of everyday life. The military leadership is being increasingly put through, and is expected to respond to, situations that are more extensive, more complex and more demanding than the type of situations which the average citizen is faced with. It is in this belief in values that are being strengthened so that a suitable moral and ethical climate is maintained in the Armed Forces, a climate that will eventually prove to be a battle winning factor.
30. In summation, the exercise of military leadership especially at the functional level inevitably involves lofty moral and ethical considerations. Not only is the commander expected to carry out the functions of a leader, but he is also expected to perform them in a manner approved by the society. His personal behaviour, his value systems and his moral decisions are an integral part of his role and reflected in the expectations of those he serves. In addition, the status of command confers inescapable moral responsibilities for setting the correct example for the group. Thus, the ethical and moral principles of the commanders are critical to the morale, efficiency and effectiveness of the military and may well tilt the balance between victory and defeat in battle.
31. To enable a man to enter into battle knowing fully well that there is a grave risk to his life, he needs to be well motivated and led by leaders whom he trusts. Thus one of the primary tasks of leaders at all levels in the armed forces is motivation. Motivation here is actually at the grass roots level where instant results are seen. This is done by enabling a man to have faith in himself, his equipment, his group or unit, his nation knowing that it will take care of his family, his leaders and his comrades. This is at variance with what is taught at the B school levels. In the corporate environment motivation has been well researched and a number of theories exist. Two such theories are analysed in brief and the manner in which they are applicable to the armed forces are covered below.
Maslow’s Theory of Motivation : The Hierarchy of Needs
32. When man’s physiological needs are relatively satisfied, his desire for safety and security becomes dominant. He then wants to be free from danger, threat and other vagaries of life. He wants economic security. He does not want to depend upon others for meeting his needs. He wants to live in an orderly and predictable world. He explores the boundaries of behaviour acceptable to others and follows those. He also resists arbitrary and unpredictable action of others.
33. The safety needs of man are also linked with his ‘social’ security and desirable future. In fact, in industrial situations, man’s safety and security needs are of immense importance. Unionism in the industrial domain of a developing country like India primarily works for satisfying these needs of the workers.
34. When man’s physiological and safety needs are reasonably satisfied, his social needs become dominant. Man is a gregarious animal. He likes the company of others, wants to live with others, belong to others. Man does not like any interference in the manner of satisfying his social needs. Superiors, who try to control and direct subordinates relationships with others, face difficulties.
35. A man also does not want to feel weak, inferior or helpless. His esteem needs, therefore, are related to his “self-image,” created both by him as well as by others’ estimation of him. In the industrial world, self-esteem is derived from one’s feelings about one’s work and from the evaluation of it by others. However, the status of work done and its ‘social evaluation’ is only one part of the fulfilment of esteem needs. Earnings derived from work, over and above one’s basic requirements, help the worker to purchase things, services and opportunities which, in turn, enhance his self-esteem. In the industry, esteem needs of the worker are utilised to increase his productivity on the one hand, and to give him a sense of worth, capability and usefulness on the other.
36. When all other needs of a man are satisfied, his desire to grow psychologically still remains. Maslow states: “What a man can be, he must be.” He must realise his potentialities to the full, self-realisation is necessarily a creative state but it is not creative in the usual sense of the term. Here it refers to a feeling of accomplishment and attainment, and of being satisfied with one’s creation and self. The need for self-actualisation gets manifested in human behaviour in many forms.
Herzberg’s Hygiene/ Motivation Theory.
37. This theory propounds the fact that background factors like work conditions supervision, salary, security, workers relations with peers and subordinates etc., contribute more in determining the presence or absence of one’s negative attitudes towards the job. They are assumed to be the result of avoidance needs. They produce no improvement in job performance as such, but serve to prevent the loss of morale or efficiency.
38. As against the hygiene factors, motivators such as achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement and possibility of growth, contribute substantially to the determination of one’s positive attitudes towards the job. These factors made little contribution to the formulation of negative work attitudes. They, therefore, form the core of human motivation and are mainly responsible for good work. They are related to the growth needs of an individual and have an uplifting effect on his attitudes and performance.
Application of these Theories
39. Corporate. For the success of any organization it is essential that the goals of the individual and the organization must be in congruence. This is far relatively easy in the corporate where the individual’s needs and desires are easily met. Every individual has the basic needs of security for himself and his family, financial remuneration, job satisfaction and meeting his basic needs. Since the corporate judges all aspects in terms of financial profits all incentives and motivations come in those terms. Motivation here is in terms of recognition and financial awards and rewards as well as promotion which results in authority, accountability and increased salary. The more skilled an individual gets the better is his remuneration. In addition, his employment based on his job content is for a longer duration in terms of age and service. His employer’s high handedness is to some extent protected by his own workers’ union which is willing to stop work in case any of its members are harmed intentionally or unintentionally.
40. The armed forces deal with the basic task of security of the nation. This task involves killing and being killed. The organisation goals as well as individual goals, on the surface, look to be in congruence. However, on a closer scrutiny it may be found that the organisation goal is always to ‘achieve/provide security to the nation and its people’ by utilising its members ‘to kill and destroy’ or by ‘offering to be killed or destroyed.’ Killing or willingness to be killed are against the very basics of human security needs. Hence to enable a man to be willing to accept this basic tenant as a part of his life in the years during his service, it is essential to condition his thought process to accept this as the inevitable by continuously calling upon his ‘esteem’ and ‘self actualisation’ needs. This is only feasible with training, motivating him to accept rewards in terms salvation and recognition to his family and himself after achieving the inevitable.
41. Thus at the time a man joins the services, though he has come in voluntarily and has grandeur ideas due to his impressionable age it is essential to drill him to accept orders which involve going against the basic human nature. This task is achieved through the basic training and regimentation which he is put through. It changes his thought process and creates in him a desire to succeed, a desire to achieve the ultimate.
42. During his tenure in the service his life is regimented to the level that all his social interactions, the group he would interact with and the level to which he would interact are all controlled. Since the group has to stay together for long durations including through periods of relative hardships and comfort, it leads to a closer understanding, trust and a sense of interdependence. It is this which breeds in individuals the ability to make the supreme sacrifice of his life for safety and glory of his comrades.
Modifying Theories in the Armed Forces
43. Maslow’s. The safety needs of an individual are met by means of providing an assured job and a guarantee to continue to serve till a fixed age provided the basic tenets and rules of the organization are met. However, in the aspect of physical safety, assurance exist of security of his family being met, not his. The social needs are well controlled and coordinated. The esteem needs are met by creating in the individual his standing in society, respect from family and friends due to the nobleness of the profession. This thus brings in him the ability to look for the highest order need of self actualization. It is this which brings out the best in him.
44. Herzberg’s. The job context, in this case provided by the hygiene factors, are reasonably well met. The working conditions vary from comfortable to difficult but are accepted as it is equally shared by all. In the aspects pertaining to the job content opportunities for personal growth are assured by well laid down and time tested policies and procedures which are common for all. It is the fairness of the system which assures the same hence giving satisfaction. Recognition in the form of awards for well performed tasks especially during difficult times is not monetarily linked but their importance and acceptance makes men perform better than their best. The very fact that awards are worn proudly on the chest for all to see and suffixed next to their names is an issue of pride.
45. Motivation Difficulties. Like in any other organization the level of motivation and the quantum of individuals motivated is at a variance. This would depend on the type and personality of leaders, cohesiveness of the group, communication levels within the group, fairness in implementing rules and regulations, bonding and trust between the various levels of the organization and the willingness of the leaders to share equal risks as the subordinates. It impacts the Armed Forces as any other organizations which have groups that succeed and groups that fail. Since in battle there is no place for the runners up, the armed forces take all measures to ensure success at all levels.
“We got through it, I don’t know what I’d be doing (without the military), but I wouldn’t be here. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t use the leadership lessons I learned in the Navy. It was absolutely vital.”
DTE Energy CEO Anthony Earley
“Everything I know about leadership, I learned in the military,”
Thomas Hoog, Chairman of Hill & Knowlton USA
46. While leadership is an overarching necessity for any organisation, it is intrinsic to the Armed Forces. The nature and content of a military task confers a numero-uno status to leadership. Leadership in the military is backed up ‘legal authority’ which bestows ‘authority and status’ on the military leader thus making him a ‘commander’. To an extent appointed status of managers in the business world is also akin to commanders in the armed forces. Over the years the armed forces have emphasised on war fighting ability, which is the primary purpose for its being. On the other hand focus of any business venture is to generate profits for the organisation’s stakeholders. The non profit nature of the Armed Force organisation places greater demands upon its leaders to motivate the men under their command.
47. Lord Slim a military leader of great repute in his famous book “Defeat into Victory,” defines leadership, “As the ability to influence individuals and group’s work towards attaining organisational goals”. Similarly George Terry has defined leadership “As the activity of influencing people to strive willingly for group objectives”. It would be very interesting to take a look into our own scripture the ‘Gita’ which has no parallel treatise that describes the philosophical raison-de-etre of human existence and its practice in day to day life. It defines leadership as “For whatsoever a great man does, that very thing other men also do; whatever standard he sets up, the generality of men follow the same”. Gen Eisenhower, former President of USA has defined, “Leadership is the knack of something you want done because he wants to do that”.
48. Commanding. While leadership is an overarching necessity for any armed forces unit, command will occur only under more defined circumstances. With command, come legal authority and ethical responsibilities. Leadership without command is not only possible, it is frequent and important; command without leadership should never be allowed to occur. While some amount of clarity is there with reference to leading and managing, commanding is an area relatively lesser understood as it is specific to a particular situation and its authority can derive from position as in the armed forces (rank, appointment), job title (CEO, Chief Mentor).
49. There is a large amount of similarity in managing corporate functions and combat functions as the environments of the two sectors are almost similar in nature. A comparative view of the two environments is as follows:-
✈Complex & Challenging arena
✈Rules of the game change almost daily.
✈Rapid change in technology
✈Change in aspirations of the work
force and young leadership
✈Impact of failure may result in loss of job
⌦Complex & challenging arena
⌦High tech battlefield
⌦Uncertain and high risk
⌦Variety of threats
⌦Changing recruitment and young
officer’s profile with similar aspirations
⌦Impact of failure may lead to loss of life
and stakes have repercussion at the national level
50. Corporate Leadership Functions. If the environment in general is about the same then functions and the leadership approach will obviously have similar nuances. The defence forces have some tasks that may differ in emphasis from those in the business. The point is that Armed Forces have successfully designed their leadership development around those unique requirements. In the corporate world there may be more emphasis on the need for the leader to perform a wide variety tasks, such as:-
(a) Create a vision for the group.
(b) Affirm values.
(c) Define strategy.
(d) Inspire and motivate people.
(e) Step back to see the big picture.
(f) Anticipate the future, think long term.
(g) Resolve interdepartmental conflicts.
(h) Allocate resources.
(j) Connect the group with the out side world.
(k) Influence people in wide circles.
(l) Explain stakeholder groups the reasons for various actions.
(m) Serve as symbol / perform symbolic acts.
51. Combat Leadership Functions. Obviously many of the leadership functions in the armed forces are exactly the same. Inspiring and motivating people are necessary in both situations. Focusing on results is common in both. Leadership development content and process must address the needed tasks or processes, but these are no more complex in the corporate world than those in the armed forces. Those leadership attributes that are common for both the Armed Forces and the Corporate leadership are as given below:-
(a) Character. Much of the entire induction and training process in the Armed Forces is designed to inculcate a new set of core values. These emphasize a strict code of honour and honesty. The process begins with induction through the Services Selection Board and continues till his basic teaching is over even after commission. There is a strong case to follow similar practices in the corporate world. In fact the Wharton Business School has started sending its aspiring MBA students through the Marine Corps training school for the past few years.
(b) Personal capability. The development process builds the necessary knowledge about the overall organization as well as required technical knowledge about several functional areas. The emphasis is to enhance the overall professional competence level of the young officers. Higher and extensive education is encouraged either on their own or through the institutionalized curriculum. This is a win – win approach for the organization as well as its leaders.
(c) Focus on Results. The armed forces may not show the results which could be measured in monetary or material terms but they do achieve and deliver levels of security to the nation and provide levels of secure environment that permit its people to achieve individual and social aspirations as well as other national endeavours to operate effectively. This it does by engaging the “threats to security” in combat and emerging winner. Increasingly, these results in terms of “levels of security achieved” and at “what costs” too can be quantified. Since ‘failure in combat’ has tremendous adverse impact for the nation and the society, the planning process at various levels depending upon the position of the leader is addressed in great amount of detail and a major time and training effort is devoted on evolution and refinement of plans to ensure victory. In the words of General JJ Singh, the present Chief of the Army Staff, “We have only one option/outcome -victory at any cost”. Here, ‘any cost’ is meant to indicate, ‘even at maximum cost to self’ and ‘least cost to the nation’. On the other hand in business since there is still scope for achieving a respectable second spot or even a third spot, and scope exists for revising plans post results for the next quarter or year, there may exist tendency of planning and experimenting for shorter terms.
(d) Interpersonal Skills. Not knowing the names of your subordinates is unthinkable in a combat unit of the armed forces. Junior leaders are not only required to know the name of the soldiers under their command but also the details of their family members. Relationships are encouraged to foster group cohesion, mutual trust and faith.
(e) Leading Organizational Change. Rapidly changing combat environment and threats make it mandatory for combat leader especially at the senior levels to be effective change managers and continuously develop change agents. This function is not exercised at the junior functional levels of leadership for obvious reasons.
52. Change Leadership. The dynamic changes taking place in the technological arena as also the innovative methods of waging wars by state and especially non state actors is making it incumbent on the part of every senior military leader to envision the future shape of things to come, plan the transition of the force structure, strategy, doctrine and tactics to achieve the goal of the organization – of victory in battle / combat, either conventional or non conventional. Such an orientation is also a mandatory requirement in the corporate world. To manage change we need to:-
(a) Focus on stretch.
(b) Develop systems thinking.
(c) Encourage lateral thinking.
(d) Create empowerment and accountability.
(e) Inject rapid cycle change and fast decision making.
(f) Envision future and develop long term perspectives.
(g) Master technology.
53. Corporate. In most corporate organizations, lateral intake is the order of the day. Leaders who join at various levels in the hierarchy bring with them certain knowledge, skills, abilities and experience that have made them unique. These attributes have been gained from prior experience. The top management makes the choice of future strategies. The selection procedure is slow and sure. The career planning and development is done employing a formal or informal approach. The hiring of executive assistants permits the top management to select, train and appraise future strategists. The start point in the formal approach is hiring those who have already had a formal education in the subject. In the informal approach strategists are developed through careful screening, assigning important tasks, keeping track of their achievements, evaluation and rewards. Succession planning is the responsibility of the top management. Select individuals are slowly groomed for top appointments.
54. Armed Forces. In the armed forces there is no lateral intake, hence, the leaders have grown within the organization and have progressed gradually from direct level to senior level to the strategic level. Each level demands a corresponding change in his personnel competencies. Therefore the armed forces have to develop leaders to meet this changing environment and multiple challenges at each level. The armed forces leader development process is founded in three dynamic pillars of institutional training (formal military and civilian schools), operational assignments and self-development. Senior and strategic leader development is a natural extension of this process. Logically the development pattern followed provides experience in system coordination, followed by system integration and ultimately systems design. This inward growth of leaders brings in a tremendous understanding of the culture and environment of the organization. The leader is in a better position to understand the needs and demands of the organization as well as understand the limitations and capabilities of his troops.
Transactional vs Transformational Leadership Styles
55. Transactional Approach. This has been the staple diet of managers and leaders in the business sector. However, business leaders are discovering the limitation of using transactional approaches alone, as more and more constraints are being placed upon them with respect to the distribution of extrinsic rewards. Transactional Leadership approach envisages mutual exchange of benefits for economic or political reasons by the leader and the followers. Leaders following this approach display following behaviour:-
- Work through exploitation of physiological and security needs of his followers.
- Prefer to intervene only when things go wrong.
- They are unsure about the efficacy of their method of motivating subordinates.
- Give general feedback to their followers and superiors.
- Depend heavily upon external reinforcement to motivate their subordinates. That is to say they are extrinsic in motivation orientation.
56. Transformational Approach. It is evident from experience that the effectiveness of managers or leaders diminishes rapidly if the power of reward giving is withdrawn from them in terms of bonuses and other monetary benefits. Like wise, the leader himself, if he is unable to meet the laid down organizational goals becomes de-motivated if he has a transactional self motivational orientation. The solution lies in resorting to the military ways of motivation and leadership approach which is primarily transformational in nature. Mr Prahlad a contemporary management guru states, “However, business leaders are discovering the limitation of using transactional approaches alone, as more and more constraints are being placed upon them with respect to the distribution of extrinsic rewards”. Qualities of a transformational leader are:-
- He displays charisma which is based on unimpeachable character, example setting, fostering mutual trust & confidence.
- Unshakeable belief in higher goals.
- Undertakes relentless pursuit of excellence at a personal level.
- He always safeguards and protects subordinates self interest.
- Belief in personal obligation towards subordinate development.
- Creates growth needs in subordinates and also makes them aware of their hidden potential.
- High need-extension and a predisposition to develop others without undue expectation of reward.
- High need –rigour which is the primary basis of self-discipline in the Indian environment.
(j) Spirit of contribution towards organization building with a focus on distant vision.
Leader Follower Development
57. Every leader in both the corporate and the armed forces is also a follower. In the armed forces due to the extremely hierarchical nature of the organization this is more so. Thus there is a need develop this relationship through a structured method. This issue is not being given the due importance in the corporate as in the armed forces. Some aspects pertaining to this is as listed below.
(a) In the corporate due to the nature of functioning and desire for profit adequate time is not being devoted to this aspect. In the armed forces there is a structured training schedule which caters for both, professional and behavioural aspects. The leaders are trained to identify and build bonds with their followers, and simultaneously the followers are trained to identify and build bonds with their leaders.
(b) This process leads to followers being constantly trained to take over as leaders. This leads to the concept of growing leaders instead of buying them.
(c) The lateral entry methodology adopted by the corporate affects the leader – follower in a manner that there is a lack of identity between leaders and followers primarily due to limited association and time. This is further compounded by the fact that there is an over emphasis on money as the common denominator.
58. Another major phenomenon which adversely affects the corporate is that the strength of the business is given relatively lesser recognition. It has been noticed that the workers, who in reality form the backbone, remain for a long time with the organization, but tend to identify themselves more with machines as the managers keep changing frequently. This leads to lack of bonding and thus is disadvantageous in the long term.
HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE ARMED FORCES
What is Special About the Armed Forces
59. One may consider as to why there be a need to focus on the armed forces on the issue of Human Capital Development. Do the armed forces have better human capital?
60. This issue can be considered with the following statements:-
(a) Given similar working conditions and resources, personnel in the armed forces generally outperform their counterparts employed. It is very evident when both work together in common areas such as dealing with natural calamities.
(b) In adverse working conditions and with inadequate resources, personnel in the armed forces always outperform their civilian counterparts. Therefore it has always been said that, “God and soldiers are only remembered in times of trouble.”
(c) They nearly succeed because they do not have the choice of “not succeeding”.
(d) Collectively they do fail and causes of such failures are generally attributable to leadership.
(e) At the functional levels there are incidences of human weaknesses coming to fore i.e., indiscipline, insubordination, corruption, absenteeism etc. But the proportion of individuals succumbing to such human weaknesses at any one time continues to be low but yet a matter of concern. Corrective actions are swift and effective enough to keep incidents as incidents and not allow these to develop in to negative trends.
61. Yes, the Armed Forces draw its personnel requirements from the same national pool and from the same environment and societal background as others. Yet it begins with a handicap – increasingly larger numbers joining the Armed forces are the “seventh best” if the available national pool may be classified in twenty categories in descending order based upon levels of intellectual capabilities, education qualification, aspirations, and motivation. On the contrary, the corporate attracts the “first best”.
62. In summary, the Armed Forces acquire the mostly average to high average manpower from the available national pool and progressively groom them:-
(a) Initially at the follower level where he learns to obey orders, perform efficiently and effectively in most adverse conditions, even at the cost of loss of limb and life.
(b) Subsequently, as leaders at the functional level, starting from the junior most level and slowly growing, then at the directional or “operational” level and finally at the strategic level or the “top management” level.
(c) To continually acquire and upgrade knowledge and capability as demanded by the level of command and the job content. In a career spanning approximately 30 years and armed forces an officer attends nearly 20 courses of instructions of varying durations.
(e) To achieve at minimum cost to subordinates, superiors and the nation irrespective of personal costs.
63. In a recent interview, General JJ Singh, the Army Chief stated a few management lessons which could be drawn by the corporate. A few at the functional level are:-
(a) The army rewards failures. Only those who have the courage to swim against the tide make mistakes.
(b) The army believes that money cannot bind an individual to an organization. The ethos, work culture and scope to achieve satisfaction are more important.
(c) The army follows the directive style of command where junior leaders do not have to look over their shoulders at every stage of the battle. Flexibility and individual empowerment are important and bureaucracy doesn’t work in the battlefield.
(d) The army doesn’t quantify productivity and the system of motivation is not based on monetary considerations. Esprit de corps, camaraderie, regimental pride act as motivators.
(e) The army believes in sending its officers back to school to keep them updated. A high flying officer goes to top notch defence colleges every two to three years.
64. The armed forces and the corporate have the same base from which the manpower pool is absorbed. However the way the pool is handled, trained and integrated into the organization varies. It has also been seen that the level at which the main impact takes place is the functional level. The armed forces put in tremendous energy in developing leadership, values and ethos at this level, whereas the same does not exist with the corporate. At the same time the armed forces have also realized that the cutting edge is here hence all effort to improve working conditions and morale is at this level. However, like the corporate there is always a percentage of individuals who are fully motivated and a similar percentage partially. Black sheep exist everywhere, yet the main task of leaders at the functional level is to increase the number of motivated personnel and reduce the others. This is possible and has to be done if we are to succeed at all tasks given to us.65. It may be worth a while to study the holistic system of human capital development that the Armed Forces follow. There would surely be lessons that the Corporate and the civil services could draw upon and effectively adapt to meet their own needs. There are areas where the corporate can gain from our knowledge, experience and methodologies and modify their systems to get the best output with minimum cost, differences in methodologies and results not withstanding.