Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 99

WARRIOR SPIRIT subordinate knows that a performance evaluation relies on one quantifiable measure valued by the boss, enormous incentive is created to inflate the measure by resorting to misleading means. For example, leaders can cease using certain pieces of reportable equipment in training for fear of breaking them in order to create the appearance of operational readiness in certain categories. Not using equipment raises ratings artificially by assuring that equipment is reported as operational on rating reports but in reality reduces operator—as well as unit—readiness by eliminating the ability to train on the equipment. Ambitious but short-sighted and ineffective leaders, who see only the next evaluation or reporting period, may resort to such a strategy to enhance individual chances for promotion. Subordinates to such leaders see such actions too, which can cause them to either lose trust in their leader and the system, emulate their leader’s behavior, or both, especially if such leaders are in the end rewarded by the system. Obviously, people and systems that reward superficial and unethical behavior eventually will be exposed as incapable and untrustworthy— hopefully, not in combat. Trust in the Organization Trust is the cornerstone of an effective organization as well as a component of a leader’s competency. It is critical that trust exists in an organization because it is the “one specific component of the morale and cohesiveness mosaic which appears crucial, and whose absence or dilution is particularly detrimental to effectiveness over time and under stress.”30 Leaders who fail to build trust in their organizations, both up and down the chain of command, create an environment of suspicion that stifles individual initiative. Trust creates transparency in a unit, allowing subordinates to provide constructive feedback on command decisions. In conjunction, seeking feedback or opinions from subordinates prior to an official decision is a greater builder of trust, as it creates buy-in to the direction of the organization. Moreover, trust is the cornerstone of the concept of mission command. It requires commanders to know the character and traits of subordinates and trust that each can achieve the intent of the operation.31 Such trust tends to develop quickly in a combat environment because of the amount of time leaders MILITARY REVIEW  September-October 2014 and soldiers spend together and the stress under which they operate. In contrast, in the absence of a combat environment, trust takes longer to develop. This is problematic given the relaively short time frames that govern officer moves. Unfortunately, the vital importance of trust to an organization is sometime highlighted by the actions of the untrustworthy. The presence of an ineffective or incompetent leader anywhere in the organization has detrimental effects that are often quickly observable and which undermine the trust required to build effective units. The Army strives to identify such poor leaders and rehabilitate them by training and mentorship, or, in extreme cases, by dismissing them for the good of the service. The acute problem with this methodology is that subordinates must suffer through the training and rehabilitation periods of leaders who are not performing at an acceptable level. As the Army transitions to “a leaner, adaptive, flexible and integrated force” it may be necessary to remove poor leaders more quickly in order to maintain the necessary trust within the institution.32 The removal of poor leaders is a matter of both institutional and personal accountability. Tolerating continued employment of poor leaders violates the trust that “is the bedrock of our honored profession.”33 Whether it is the bureaucratic nature of the organization that does not allow the rapid departure of poor leaders, or an inability to identify poor leaders, the Army needs to improve in this area. One way to achieve early identification of deficient leaders would be an improved evaluation system. The current officer and noncommissioned officer evaluation systems are tiered to take into account the perspective of the rater and senior raters only. This method is inherently flawed because it gives no input to those personnel most intimately knowledgeable of the leadership of the rated individual. Subordinate feedback is not included in the evaluation systems and it is against current Army standards of conduct to seek subordinate feedback when completing a performance evaluation. Though a 360-Degree Leader Assessment is now required by Army regulation for all field grade officers, this assessment is not yet incorporated into the evaluation process. In fact, the results of this requirement are seldom used for any purpose other 97