The Difference of Military Leadership

Military leader


And if a manager talks to his subordinates so often, smokes, or drinks coffee: He will rarely hear an unvarnished evaluation of her performance and behavior. According to frigate captain Thorsten S., a lack of feedback from employees is one more reason for managers to be coached.

“Not everyone, by nature, is capable of being good military or charismatic leaders. Because this includes some character traits that are less pronounced in some people than in others,” emphasizes frigate captain Thorsten S.* “You can learn leadership, but somewhere you reach your limits with this learning.”

The head of the department for coaching top executives at the Bundeswehr’s Center for Inner Leadership is nevertheless convinced that good leadership can at least be developed. However, in order for a manager to develop, he or she needs above all the open and honest opinion of his employees. It doesn’t work without this feedback. This is the only way for a manager to know where weaknesses in his own leadership style could lie.

The problem: “I don’t always get the feedback I need to do justice to people with everything they need and to fulfill the mission in the best possible way,” explains the frigate captain. He and his coaching staff want to help executives solve this problem.

Eliminating the blind spot

Above all, it is about eliminating the “blind spot” of the manager. This means making them aware of what their employees need and which qualities need to be brought to bear more strongly in the management process and, above all, in everyday work. Managers are often unaware of the effect they have on employees and subordinates. Some managers consider themselves to be less strict and much more approachable than their subordinates perceive.

Fregattenkapitän S. and his team therefore first want to reconcile the self-image and external image of the executives. Questionnaires help with this. The forms are anonymous and are filled out by employees, subordinates, comrades, and superiors. Many questions are asked that concern the manager.

The evaluation of the answers can feel to the manager as if a band-aid is quickly torn off: Not every truth is pleasant, but a leader has to face it. In smoking corners, over coffee, or chatting in the offices, she would certainly not have received such honest feedback.


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Leaders should think about coaching

Every manager with a salary level of A15 can participate in the coaching of the Center for Inner Leadership and learn in a period of up to one year how their own leadership skills can be improved and developed. Fregattenkapitän S. urges all such military and civilian leaders of the Bundeswehr to at least think about completing coaching.

Entire teams and units can also try their hand at coaching: FMO coaching strengthens and improves work structures and processes. FMO stands for leadership, moderation, and orientation and describes different levels of coaching, where problems are identified, cooperation is strengthened and the cohesion of the team is strengthened. We talk about these and other forms of coaching this week in the radio circle.