“Put Up Or Shut Up”

I was recently on the receiving end of a vitriolic rant from a local politician of some significance. No doubt he was frustrated by the growing popularity of my poster for the European Election 2014. Cynical, manipulative, negative, nonconformist – that last one really hurt. Let’s be clear, I am still as passionate about my politics as I have ever been. Every day I am giving political speeches in my stand-up sets, making political statements on twitter and raising money for charities – that is all good politics. I am politically active. I am just not standing for elected office. Two foxes and a chicken arguing over what to have for lunch.


I wanted to change the world once but then the world changed me. I believe in politics like I believe in my religion. I believe in living it. I take politics very seriously but too many politicians take themselves a little two too seriously. I don’t want my politics tainted by the need to make a living. I believe that when politicians have to make a living out of politics by being re-elected that you build into the system at least the incentive of intellectual dishonesty. If I know that the only way I’m putting food on the table for my family is by winning an election the real incentive becomes for me to say whatever I believe that the public wants to hear, regardless of whether it is the right thing, because I really need to win that election.


My politics will always be pure. I’ll never stop being a libertarian. I’ll never stop being progressive and I will never make a living from politics. My job is edutainment; to educate and to entertain in equal measure. I may be an entertainer but my passion is political and I’m just as active as I’ve ever been. In fact I’m probably more active than most politicians. I believe that I work tirelessly for the truth, for justice, for people and for the individual. That is the journey of my life. Sometimes it is easier to apologise than to ask for permission. The secret of life is not to arrive, well presented, in a timely manner at the grave but to skid in sideways at 100 mph shouting, “Holy Shit, what a ride.”

What is incredible, even if it does sound like a cliche is that I don’t want tons of money. I am politically active, I love the individual, I do not want tons of money but part of me wants to earn tons of money so that I can give it away. This is the opposite of the political class. I want to give away my money, they want to spend your money. They don’t have their own money, they plunder the rich, steal from the poor and borrow from the banksters creating a rentier economy, funding expenses and lining the pockets of those who join in and sing along to the consensus narrative. Perhaps we should limit our politicians to two terms – one in office and one in gaol. Yes I am a shock jockey but if life was fair on ocasion the horse would get to ride jockey.


“Put up or shut up? – A plague on all of their houses.

Socialist at twenty; Tory at thirty; Libertarian at forty; Anarchist at fifty, probably and if I am called a terrorist at sixty, I’ll be remembered as a freedom fighter at seventy.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Leadership in a Paragraph

You don’t usually expect to get engrossed in a discussion on leadership, over a coffee, with a group complete strangers at a motorway service station in the English East Midlands.  Well that’s what happened.  I just had to gatecrash the party.  These were good guys, honest hard working souls but they were for the most part sharing, in an increasigly animated way, the most bizarre theories on leadership.  Leadership is a subject that I’ve studied extensively but for some reason I seemed unable to articulate my thoughts.  Well articulate of a sort I managed, but summarise I did not. I sounded at best like an eccentric professor as I stumbled through theory after theory and had the air about me of one who had lost his way somewhat.  On reflection perhaps their thoeries were if bizarre a least succinct.  Perhaps my brain was fried after ‘sales bootcamp’ – article on that beauty to follow, I promise.

What I realised was that I needed instant access to the place that all of that learning had taken me to.  Just as the aspirant entrepreneur will have access to his elevator pitch should the occasion on which he finds himself in a lift with Lord Sugar ever present itself I was in need of the Tibself Declaration, the summation of my academic endeavours on leadership, a paragraph on which to call.  Well here it is fresh from my pen.  Gentlemen, as promised, these are the qualities which make a leader great:

There is a commonly held perception in western culture that leadership equates to a superior intelligence, logic and wisdom but it occurs when one group member modifies the motivation or competencies of others in the group.  In short you cannot have a leader without followers.  Numerous academics prepared lists of qualities that constituted born leadership but the lists became long and bewildering. De Gaulle was tall but Napoleon was short. It does not make a difference.  Perhaps trait theory isn’t appealing to those born with the sceptical gene. In short trait theory alone cannot account for the complexity of leadership because it is too one-dimensional.  Leadership has to be one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth but we recognise it when we see it.  Different situations call for different skills and styles.  No one leadership style is ideal for every situation and a leader must be able to modify their approach accordingly by telling, selling, participating or empowering.  A great leader will demonstrate consideration and be mindful of subordinates, including a respect for their needs and feelings but they also have to be task orientated, with a focus on goal attainment, after all that’s what they are there for.  Charisma as personal power resides in many great leaders; it can be enhanced by position or expert status.  You are; what you know; what you do; and what you believe but you have to be able to able to motivate and enthuse others.  It is perhaps because the topic has consumed so much energy, time and effort that it appears to be the Holy Grail for corporates and entrepreneurs alike.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Creative Leadership

Leadership and creativity are subjects which excite me, sad I know and I am looking to get out more. I’ve written on both of topics extensively but so have others. The last year or so have seen a number of attempts to address the subject.  Some of the best offerings are listed below.  Perhaps not the ideal poolside reading, nonetheless they will give the mind a workout and tone up the grey matter.

1. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom and David Kelley

I may be biased, but I think Creative Confidence, penned by my colleagues Tom and David Kelley, is a great primer on how to unlock your innate creativity. It’s the perfect place to start if you’re fearful of taking creative risks or want to understand more about the skills and mindset you need to adopt for creative problem solving.

2. A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger

Journalist and innovation expert, Warren Berger, explores the world of curiosity and explains why simply asking “Why?” can lead to important change. If you’re an aspiring leader—creative or otherwise—it’s time to channel your inner child and start questioning deeply, imaginatively, and persistently in order to uncover novel opportunities.

3. Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation by Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove & Kent Lineback

Collective Genius is about building creative cultures and creating a stage for others to perform upon. Authored by Linda Hill of Harvard Business School, former Pixar tech wizard Greg Brandeau, and two other leadership experts, they debunk the myth of the lone creative genius and give valuable tips for releasing the combined creativity of organizations.

4. Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert I. Sutton & Huggy Rao

Once you’ve asked the right question and found the right idea, there remains what is arguably the most important and most challenging task for creative leaders: taking them to scale. Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao of Stanford University have spent years researching how effective organizations expand their ideas and influence. Many of the impediments they’ve found are cultural, not technical, and the authors outline principles that the best leaders use to scale their successes. If you want your company to have impact, this is a must-have tome for your leadership library.

5. The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman

A reissue of a design classic, Don Norman wrote the original The Design of Everyday Things in 1988 and it had a tremendous impact on my own career as a designer. In the latest version, Norman expands on his thesis about the relationship between products and people and includes new chapters on design thinking and the role of design in business. If you’re leading a product team in the physical or digital worlds, this book contains a treasure trove of important lessons such as when something doesn’t work, it’s usually the product’s fault, not the person using it.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Good For Nothing

The Good For Nothing movement is fuelled by a growing community of smart folk who collaborate with social innovators, social business and enterprise, activists, change makers, film makers and charities. The community welcomes anyone with skills who has a desire to get stuck in.

As an international, as well as local community of thinkers, do-ers, makers and tinkerers they apply their skills and energy to accelerate the work of cause-led innovators and change makers; it’s about diverse groups of people collaborating together, working in new, faster, fun and better ways by supporting ideas and people that are leading the way to what a flourishing 21st century society might look like. When I was at my greatest low I was given the greatest advice, “When you are down, seek out someone who is worse off than you, then by helping them you’ll take two people to a better place.”

Challenges are solved collaboratively – on and offline – through gigs (24 to 48hr think, hack, do creative collaboration events) and on their website. There are a number of ways to get involved, but for starters you could get stuck in to a challenge or check out upcoming gigs and socials on the calendar, we’d love to meet you!


Below is a message from the Leicester chapter which has just launched:

Put simply, Good For Nothing is people giving whatever they can to support a worthy and worthwhile cause in their city. It’s a chance to support a local charity or social enterprise with something more valuable than your chequebook – that’s right – with your time and effort.

Time is money right? Well money you can earn back- time? Not so much…

I’ve worked in the business arena within Leicester for a number of years now and have come across countless businesses where they tend to face the same challenge – they need resources – resources that are often not cash or hard assets, but people, talent, skills and enthusiasm to take their idea further.

In the not-for-profit sector, charities and social enterprises face this more than others as they can’t often provide the cash or salary incentive to have talented people on the team, on the board or helping to craft out the vision for their venture. With these businesses it’s generally the public and a good cause that loses out – they still operate but they have a burning desire to do more.

They need to find people who can help them achieve more. And this is where Good For Nothing comes in. Good For Nothing is made up of people like YOU. Positive, creative, talented enthusiastic change makers who want to take an idea, a concept, and supercharge it so that it can be even better. Good For Nothing is the format and the mechanism to bring this together and make it happen.There are a few in the GFN crew who run the back of house stuff – the where, the who and the when – the rest is really down to you.

We’re starting with what we call a “Social”– like an informal networking evening where everyone meets and gets to know each other – it’s going to be on the evening of Tuesday 3rd June 6-8pm, Orange Tree, High Street, Leicester and we’d love to see you there.

Once we meet we can then look to find a local cause to support – this is a group effort and we need suggestions as well as the causes coming forward – this is why it’s so important to spread the word about what we’re doing. The Crew with your support will find a venue and pick a date for the “Hack” when we get even more people in a room and the cause tell us what they need help with – they’ll be a few projects so you sign up to one and away we go… an evening and a full day and the cause YOU helped support is changed forever and goes on to do amazing things.

There are literally tons of people in Leicester who would be perfect for this. Whether it’s a creative person, a coder, business professional… hairdresser, plumber, doctor – we need minds and we need venues, snacks, food, coffee – things that’ll make the day run as smoothly as possible.In short we need YOU and we need PEOPLE YOU KNOW – can you help us spread the word about the bird?

Will you give up your time for a cause whilst having a fantastic time in a group bubbling with energy and talent?Sign up to Good For Nothing and attend the Leicester Social on Tuesday 3rd June at 6pm… details here http://www.goodfornothing.com/chapter/leicester- and if you can’t make the social don’t worry! Just tell as many people as you can about it and the more the merrier.We can do something really special. But we need all of YOU to do it.

Speak soon


GFN Leicester Crew

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson


European Elections 2014

Labour are getting spooked by the rise of Red UKIP. Ed’s British guru Lord Glasman used his interview with the Sunday Times to warn middle-class metropolitan Miliband that he is haemorrhaging working class votes to Farage:

“This is a long-term trend since 2001, in terms of the working-class vote just declining quite dramatically. The Labour middle-class vote held up [in 2010]. It was the working-class vote that died. These are often people who are earning, who have jobs, but they don’t see Labour as representing their interests. There was possibly an assumption at first that [the rise of Ukip] would just work against the Tories. But there is a view that says that after the European and local elections are over, there could be a swing back to the Conservatives of Ukip voters. But will there be necessarily a swing back to Labour from the Ukip voters?”

At the same time as there appears to be a surge in support, the misrepresntation of UKIP increases. This is best articulated by Peter Osborne:

“No political party in modern history – not even Neil Kinnock’s Labour in 1987 – has come under such sustained attack and misrepresentation. Mr Kinnock at least had The Guardian and the Daily Mirror; Mr Farage cannot boast a single national title, and several papers are running vendettas against him. Mr Kinnock was treated reasonably fairly by the broadcast media. This is not the case with Mr Farage: consider the lacerating contempt shown towards him by Channel 4 News and its chief presenter, Jon Snow. Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, has also abandoned his usual fairness when dealing with the party.”

The political class do indeed feel frightened. Farage may turn out to be a buffoon but that is a sideshow issue.  The issue for me is two-fold, I want to wave two-fingers and I am strongly against the politicisation of the ‘common market’. Like a wounded animal the establishment feels cornered and it WILL fight back. The narcicistic system has too many feeding at the trough to let any populist rebellion go unchallenged. Expect the state funding of political parties to be back on the agenda as the main players seek to consolidate their strangehold.

Finally, as someone who has worked with politicians for thirty years I firmly believe that we should change our politicians often, much like nappies, and for the same reason.  The election poster up in my front window is the one below.  Feel free to download it (copies available on request). By all means vote byr for that added protection – attach a condom!

European Election Poster

Be warned though. I was challenged over it’s content.  It was suggested that my reference to Guy Fawkes was a breach of Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006. The poster is still there. I’m sat here in my tin hat and camouflage jacket.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Inspirational Leadership

In his book The Inspirational Leader: How to Motivate, Encourage and Achieve Success Adair (2003) poses the simple question of why one person seems to emerge in a group and be accepted as a leader over anyone else. His response is structured around four themes: what you are; what you know; what you do; and what you believe. As simplistic as this approach at first appears it draws you in.

  1. The first theme of what you are appears to be a combination of personal qualities and traits, addressing issues such as warmth, humility, courage, integrity and enthusiasm.
  2. The second theme of what you know proposes that it is knowledge that gives leaders their authority. This knowledge though is not just technical, it is about being able to motivate and enthuse others.
  3. The third theme of what you do is about how you respond to the needs of the task, the team, and the individual and most importantly how these interact and the context in which they do so.  Some situations need managers and others need leaders. The key ingredient for Adair is change, as he believes that change creates a need for leaders and only leaders can deliver change.
  4. The fourth theme is what you believe. Adair takes this beyond the idea of vision and explores the impact of values, suggesting that there may be a higher spirit inspiring and guiding us. He says that leaders ask ‘why‘ in a way that convinces the intellect and engages the spirit. Adair introduces the term strategic hopefulness‘.

Much of what Adair is saying revolves around a variation of his Three Circles Model (Adair, 1988) but his introduction of values starts to strike parallels with other emerging inspirational themes. For Nicholls (1994) the inspirational message can occur anywhere and without coercion because it is about creating a compelling vision that changes people‘s paradigms. This is the ‘heart‘ that he refers to in his essay Heart, Head and Hands’ of Transforming Leadership. The notion of strategic hopefulness or inner focus emphasising the need for balance between a person‘s work and their personal life is a major tenet of Kyle‘s (1998) work in which he identifies the four powers of leadership as: cultivating presence, intention, wisdom and compassion.

Adair‘s (2003) work is appealing but for radicalism and a real insight into inspirational leadership Greenleaf‘s (1977) concept that the common characteristic of a great leader is that he is first a servant and that the desire to lead comes from the desire to serve is profound. Servant leaders articulate a vision and a dream which excites the imagination of followers but the key is that it is the trust in which they are held that is the source of their authority used to overcome the challenges.

Does this mean that we are now searching for a new kind of leadership to emboldening us to face the challenges of the twenty first century or simply looking for more ways of trying to package a concept that we still fail to fully understand?


ADAIR,J. (1988) Effective Leadership, London: Pan

ADAIR, J. (2003) The Inspirational Leader: How to Motivate, Encourage and Achieve Success, London: Kogan Page

GREENLEAF, R. K. (1977) Servant Leadership, New York: Paulist Press

KYLE, D. T. (1998), Four Powers of Leadership: Cultivating Presence, Intention, Wisdom and Compassion, FL: Health Communications

All rights reserved © 2013 Andrew Hutchinson

Reflections on Leadership

As a child passing through the education system of the seventies I was introduced to magical characters such as Clive of India; General Wolfe; Cecil Rhodes; Captain Cooke; Horatio Nelson and Robert the Bruce. I cannot remember if I was told, if I believed that I instinctively knew, or if I somehow worked it out for myself, but these individuals were leaders of men, of that I was sure. It was not just the tales of do and dare but the contrasts and the contradictions that characterised their lives that held a draw for me.  Clive may well have been the first of the modern-era soldier-politicians who helped the British gain ascendency in India, whose fame and notoriety lay in his political and military conquest of Bengal but I was just as fascinated to learn how as a boy he climbed his local church tower and perched on a gargoyle to frighten those below, or attempted to set up a protection racket and vandalise the premises of local merchants who would not pay. Wolfe is remembered for his heroics in defeating the French in Canada and establishing British rule there but I remember sitting transfixed and hearing of how at Culloden he had refused to carry out an order of the Duke of Cumberland to shoot a wounded Highlander, saying that his honour was worth more than his commission. Tales of how a sickly, asthmatic teenager was sent to South Africa in the hope that the climate would improve his health and how he grew up to found De Beers diamond company and have the country of Rhodesia named after him had a classroom enthralled. Captain Cooke was remembered not just as an explorer, navigator and cartographer but for the violent and bloody nature of his demise and the fact that after his death his body was held by the Hawaiians and the flesh cut and roasted from his bones in a ritual reserved for the chiefs and highest elders of their society. Nelson was remembered as much for his seasickness as his strategic prowess and Robert the Bruce for inspiring us to never give up and try, try and try again in the face of adversity, after witnessing the efforts of a spider to spin a web in a cave.

The characters may no longer be popular, seen by some as cameos of empire and a best-forgotten past and the teaching methods which allowed young minds to ferment with such colourful imagery may be an affront to political correctness but it is in such tales that a lifelong interest in leaders and leadership was grounded. Perhaps a child fascinated by such textbook leaders is destined for a life that somehow seems unfulfilled. Witnessing the demise of industry, influence and confidence it should be of no surprise to learn that the child of the sixties, who had grown into the young man of the eighties, on scanning the horizon found leadership noticeable only by its absence. I did not recognise the leadership of my textbook heroes in the politicians or activists of left or right, in the bosses I met in the workplace, in the academics encountered at university or the sportsmen seen on the pitch or playing field. Like most childish things it was felt that an interest in leaders was best put away.

It was only while watching the 1990 BBC television series, Troubleshooter, hosted by Sir John Harvey-Jones that there was a reconnect. His character, his wisdom and his mission held an appeal and on further investigation it seemed that he too, like my childhood heroes had a complex past. Bullied unmercifully at school, naval college at thirteen, sunk twice during the Second World War and a post-war career in intelligence before joining ICI and rising to the position of Chairman. He was a man who maintained that his mission was to concentrate on putting more power into fewer hands so as to reduce the number of those who can say ‘no’ and increase the motivation of those who can say ‘yes‘. He is also a man who insisted that there are no bad troops, only bad leaders. So leaders did exist. Or at least my sort of leader existed, and had existed when I had thought that there were none. He had been busying himself in the boardroom of ICI while I had been busy looking elsewhere.  erhaps other sorts of leader existed too?

I increasingly became aware of this possibility as my career progressed, as I too became a management consultant, working in the private and public sectors and with politicians at a local and national level. It was only when I found myself working regularly with people whose job title was simply the word ‘Leader‘, as in they were the leader of a local authority, that I began to realise that I no longer had that childlike certainty that I knew what a leader was.  Increasingly I found that I was not alone but I also found that my expectations all too often differed from those around me. There seemed to be an agreement on an absence of leadership, a void, there was an expectation that something must be done but there was no consensus about what should fill the void, no shared understanding of what a leader was.

I’ve written extensively on the subject and no doubt the quest to define leadership will continue but the writer is also fearful that the search for leaders will seemingly bear less fruit. After all if you don‘t know what you are looking for how will you ever know if you have found it?

All rights reserved © 2013 Andrew Hutchinson

‘The Blog’


‘The Blog’ is a collection of takes on management, politics and life in general, with regular posts to feed the soul.  Some posts will have a point – the point of some posts is to make you think.

After spending many years as a management consultant, stealing people’s watches to tell them the time, my intention is to have fun, cause mischief, entertain and above all inform. Consultant and writer by day, raconteur and stand-up by night, there is something for everyone. Click on the tabs to find out about me and the services offered. If you are offended easily, don’t complain, don’t come back – unless you have shedloads of money, in which case I’ll do my best to accomodate you – even I have to eat!



Be Outraged

Thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Drummer Lee Rigby, of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, from Middleton, Rochdale, victim of the cowardly and barbaric attack in Woolwich.


What happened on the streets of London yesterday was savage, barbaric and indefensible.  Footage emerged afterwards on the ITV website, of a man wielding a bloodied meat cleaver speaking to the camera, making political statements, saying: “We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

I share the sense of outrage. I share the anger and revulsion and I expect that the darkest depths of hell are reserved for those who perpetrate cowardly acts of savagery such as this, attempting to decapitate a man, after running him down with a car and subjecting him to a disembowelling in a frenzied machette attack.  Humanity has every right to feel a little less human.

It was Stalin who said, “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.”  It is on a single act of savagery that we can reflect because a single act, directed at a single soul echoes the thought that there but for the grace of God goes each of us.  It is identifiable, recognisable and relatable to each of us.  The tragedy of the lives lost in all acts of terror, be they the victims of IEDs, suicide bombings or drone strikes is just as great but somehow they get lost, sanitised in the daily diet of death and destruction that invades the comfort of our living rooms, that desensitises and eats away at the humanity of each of us on a daily basis.

I understand the desire for revenge, I know the demons that make the blood boil, the venting of anger on social media that gives way to a vicious circle of anger and despair.  Let none of us lose the opportunity to reflect.  Do not let hate destroy us.  Redirect your energy into your own personal journey of self-discovery, which in turn advances the journey of humanity.

Do not let our Government hijack this tragedy to advance its own agenda.  Terrorism is the act of instilling a sense of terror.  Successive Western governments have post 911, used a climate of fear to advance an ever more sinister agenda in the name of freedom.  George Orwell’s 1984 has been seen not so much as a novel but a user manual.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.

Our entire system is politically, morally and intellectually bankrupt.  According to the National Audit Office, the UK National Debt rose by £850bn as a result of the Bank Bailout. This is a figure which is nearly two times the country’s total annual budget.  That’s funding the NHS for eight years; the education system for twenty years or Job Seekers allowance for two hundred years.

Forget the service sector, financial terrorism is our growth industry, whether it is rigging LIBOR, mis-selling PPI, breaking trade sanctions or laundering money for drug cartels.  HSBC which now owns three NHS hospitals in Barnet, Middlesex and West Middlesex was recently found guilty of creating a whole subsidiary bank in order to launder money for Mexican drug cartels, whose victims have been decapitated by the roadsides.  Over ninety pieces of tax payer funded public infrastructure, mostly schools and hospitals, have been transferred into the ownership of banks who set up shell companies, registered in offshore tax havens to complete the deals and avoid paying taxes.

I was once given some wonderful advice:  If you don’t know what to write about, write about what makes you angry, what pisses you off.  Well this angry ‘young’ man is pissed off.  I am no ‘clean skin’.  I was a socialist at twenty, a conservative at thirty, a libertarian at forty and I can see the merits of anarchy at fifty.  I will not be a terrorist at sixty and I do not wish to see any more martyrs or terrorists.  Be outraged but redirect your anger.  Give to Help for Heroes, give to your local mosque, support your church, close your HSBC account.  For God’s sake do something and advance the cause of humanity for we are all its children.


Should the family of Drummer Lee Rigby, of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, be in agreement I for one would like to see his funeral marked by a national two minutes of silence to commemorate his sacrifice and that of all of the fallen.

All rights reserved © 2013 Andrew Hutchinson

The British Army and Its Leadership Challenge

Throughout its evolution the British Army has relied on the ability of its commanders, at all levels, to win the day; but what sets the ranks of the British Army apart from their peers around the world? The use of the word leadership is synonymous with the title of Military Commander but what does leadership mean to the ranks and file of today’s soldiers and officers?

Leadership, as a word, is used daily, often without thought, by soldiers and officers in the British Army. But what does it mean to them?  All Officers commissioned into the British Army are trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), whose motto is: “Serve to Lead”.

For the British Army the requirement to lead is not restricted to commissioned ranks; soldiers are schooled in leadership during their Potential Non-Commissioned Officer (PNCO) Course and this education continues through each phase of their promotion. This is through a three phase programme called Command Leadership and Management (CLM) which is progressively taught on selection for promotion to Corporal, Sergeant and Warrant Officer.

The British Army operates a ‘pull through’ system of promotion, with not only opportunities for progression through the ranks, but an expectation that all its recruits will rise into leadership roles. To support this it facilitates internal targeted training; aimed at specific rank, trade and role groups.

The function of leadership in the development of soldiers and officers is key to the Army’s ability to operate in both domestic and hostile environments. In both individual and academic circles the understanding of leadership, however, differs greatly. Yuki suggests that leadership is often confused with concepts such as power, authority, management, administration, control and supervision. However, the essence of the leadership role and process is to inspire, develop and empower followers.

It is followers who create leaders; leaders fill a void and it is a sense of community between the two which binds the relationship through a common goal. The relationship between leaders and followers is developed through leaders being able to provide a clear strategic vision which is underpinned by them being able to generate and sustain a sense of trust within all parties in the community.

The Army is a complex community and the challenge is to identify: what leadership means to today’s soldiers and officers, and identify what qualities they have and if they use those qualities and their positions within the organisation for the greater good.

It is important for an organisation which places such and emphasis on the importance of leadership to be able to understand how its message and training on leadership is being received by its ‘leaders’ of today in order to be able to assess the level of success of its efforts in order to target any potential future changes in its own strategic approach to leadership training and development.

Overview of the British Army

Although a single organisation, with a hierarchical command structure, the army comprises many different elements which provide complex functions and are designed to support each other. These are divided into Combat (Cbt), fighting elements, Combat Support (CS), front line support elements and Combat Service Support (CSS), primarily logistic and administrative support.  Each element shares that same rank structure and central ethos, which is defined within the core Values and Standards of the British Army.

B core values

The understanding and adoption of these common values by every officer and soldier underpins the effectiveness of the British Army and are central to the Value Based Leadership approach adopted by the Army, Army Code 64298 (2011).

Current Situation

Leadership training has been developed within the British army throughout the last decade in the shadow of two concurrent counter insurgency operations; Iraq (Operation TELIC) and Afghanistan (Operation HERRICK), Future plans for the Army include: a withdrawal from Combat Operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and a restructuring of the Army by 2020.

The Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wall, when being interviewed on Army 2020 stated:

“But what of our officers and soldiers who are so critical to this venture? They are to be found in the warrior generation that has fought courageously in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need them to soldier on into the new era, and we need people of comparable courage, talent and commitment to join them.”

With such significant changes ahead and with the Army placing such a significant emphasis on the importance of ‘leadership’ then a snapshot of the views of today’s soldiers and officers on leadership will contribute towards the development of the Army’s leaders of tomorrow.


There is a requirement to review what leadership means to the British Soldier in the 21st Century, both as a follower and a leader.

The objectives must be:

  • To review the British Army in relation to its use of the term leadership.
  • Critically review contemporary leadership literature in order to identify a concise leadership definition for the British Army.
  • Conduct primary research, using quantitative and qualitative methodologies to identify the view of soldiers (from their training and experiences) on what their understanding of the term leadership in the British Army.
  • To make comparisons between the secondary and primary research in order to draw conclusions on the view of British soldiers on their understanding of the term leadership
  • To make recommendations on how the British Army’s leadership training and development can be improved.
  • What Might the Research and Its Strategy Be?

Academics define research in different ways; Kerlinger defines it as “the systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about presumed relations among natural phenomena” whereas Payton defines it as “the process of looking for a specific answer to a specific question” and for Saunders el al  it is the process of gathering information for a purpose; this is often to answer a specific question or questions for the purpose of the advancement of knowledge. Research must be as a sequence of activities which use resources, such as information and knowledge, which are processed to provide answers, from which conclusions can be drawn.

Research philosophies consist of positivism, realism, pragmatism and interpretivism where the relationship between the researcher and the subject must be considered when reviewing any results.  The pragmatist philosophy would be to research a topic that would enable the researcher to influence positive consequences within their organisation.  The research question is key and will guide the literature review and in turn the researcher to ensure that they are focused on obtaining an answer to a specific question while some would argue that the question is secondary to which paradigm is most effective and applicable.

The army must be mindful of choosing a research strategy that is appropriate to the objectives of the project with key decisions about the strategy and methods to be used taken before the research begins.  An inductive approach would be based on evidence collated for the purpose of the specific research, from which a more general hypothesis can be gained whereas the deductive approach would be based on a logical conclusion from a wider ranging research methodology.

B research

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