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Evaluating Innovative Leader Development in the U.S. Army

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The U.S. Armys shift from a doctrine of command and control to mission command calls for adaptable soldiers and leaders individuals who can rapidly recognize changes in the environment, identify critical elements in unfamiliar situations with less-than-perfect information, and facilitate timely action to meet new requirements, all while under considerable stress. The principles of mission command also emphasize leaders who value a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach and who develop teams that can anticipate and manage transition. In this context, the Army s Asymmetric Warfare Group AWG designed and implemented the Asymmetric Warfare Adaptive Leader Program AWALP a ten-day course to enhance adaptability in leaders and promote innovative solutions in training for and conducting unified land operations. The course design is based on a theory of adaptive performance that posits eight dimensions of such performance, such as solving problems creatively, dealing with changing or ambiguous situations, interpersonal adaptability, cultural adaptability, and making decisions under stress. Although much Army training focuses on standardized procedures for accomplishing tasks, AWALP places more emphasis on an outcomes approach, focusing on the results the commander intends to achieve. This approach encourages trainees to take the initiative to adjust actions to adapt to the situation, which, in turn, requires independent thinking and problem solving. Thus, AWALP exemplifies mission command principles for both course content and how the course is taught. RAND Arroyo Center evaluated AWALP using data from 104 students enrolled in three AWALP courses in 2013, addressing multiple aspects of individual and team adaptive performance and identifying potential areas for improvement in AWALP curriculum and delivery.

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  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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