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In Command And Out Of Control: Leaders Developing Teams That Thrive In Chaos And Ambiguity

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Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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The character of armed conflict continues to change at an alarming rate due to extremist ideologies, reassertion of global hegemons, climate change, cyber conflict, infectious disease, and the ubiquity of technological advances. This type of environment provides compelling justification that traditional leadership models used to prepare military organizations to succeed in armed conflict are becoming less useful. The leader can no longer be the sole problem solver when faced with an unpredictable, complex environment. Given the hierarchical structure of military organizations and the complex environment described above leaders must now be able to generate teams that can thrive in the chaos and ambiguity associated with present and future war. Now, teams must provide the innovative and creative solutions formerly left to the individual leader if we expect Army teams to thrive in uncertainty and danger. This monograph explores how the theory of complexity leadership offers a compromise that bridges the gap between the stability commonly associated with the traditional top-down, centralized military structure, and the principles of self-organization, decentralization, and bottom-up refinement associated with complex adaptive systems. Two historical illustrations provide an analysis of leadership through the lens of complexity leadership theory. This research concludes with an analysis of current Army leadership doctrine, identify gaps and propose how complexity leadership theory could fill these gaps when operating in a complex environment.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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