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Role of Discipline of Psychology in Explaining the Nature of Leadership in A Defence Organisation

Introduction to The Psychology of Leadership

In this essay, the role of psychology in defence is examined that how psychology plays a vital role in determining various types of leadership that can be implemented in different kinds of Defence organisation. Defence organisations apply various types of psychological theories to identify, analyse, examine and to predict the behaviour of enemy forces and to apply the course of leadership psychology in their military personnel. Leadership psychology in defence plays a key role in influencing and enhancing the behaviour of troops and to achieve a common objective.

The essay is based upon the British Army that is based in the UK. The military witnesses a wide number of tragic situations which are full of life-threatening events and traumas that can leave a negative impact on a human mind which is where the leadership psychology comes into the picture. This essay contains different kinds of leadership psychology and their application in defence organisations.

 The essay will provide a clear picture of what is an ideal leadership and ideal leadership psychology strategies that should be applied. The essay further examines the negative and positive aspects related to the leadership psychology discipline and styles used in a defence organisation. The essay further provides a nexus relationship between followership and leadership that should be maintained by a leader in the defence organization. Also illustrates the aspects and importance of sociological psychological theories and how the leader should adopt a leadership psychology style while achieving an oriental and sustainable balance between both the sociological and leadership style. It will further evaluate the British army codes and procedures regarding the leadership regime they apply.

Role of Psychology in Examining leadership in British Army

 Leadership is an ability of a human to influence other human behaviour in a way to direct, instruct and guide a subordinate to strive to achieve a common goal. In defence organisations, a leader is responsible for handling the behaviour of the personnel subordinates to superior and to ensure a healthy and stress-free environment for the underlings, to ensure a free flow of communication between the superior and the aides, to ensure the subordinates are willing to take initiative and to ensure the subordinate does not resist the change. To develop a motivational spirit and team spirit among the subordinates, to encourage the subordinate for ideas and to provide various motivations in terms of monetary and non-monetary aspects, is the role of the leader. A matter of fact, that leadership may not be required at places where there is a non-dangerous situation and the team is highly competent and skilled. It's required mainly at the places where there are problematic individuals or the situation is dangerous and keeps changing. A leader in a defence organisation has to keep an eye on surrounding to ensure proper discipline among subordinates and to do so the leader performs psychological behaviour strategies. Therefore in a defence organisation to cope up with the dynamic changes, an organisation should strive to build an organizational framework which will take into considerations the factors which mainly considers the military frameworks which are already in the use, the defence leadership model adopted by the organisation, the programs which are given high priority, other Leadership programs which are initiated by the organisation, other Leadership programs that could be initiated by the organisation and how effective the earlier leadership framework was. After analysing the earlier framework, the relevant changes that are needed to be added while developing a new military framework. Setting up priority for defence programs as per the dynamic changes and reviewing the framework developed continuously.

Effective leadership strategies implemented by the British army is solely based on the purpose of coping up with any type of situation the army is put into. They are provided with the know-how of survival in most demanding situations. They are highly concerned with their moral values, their underlying motives of accomplishing a project and authenticity at all rank levels. British army values team spirit and highly encourages each individual to maintain the team spirit. According to the British Army, a good team will always lead to high-end results and setting up higher goals. British Army believes that if an individual possesses good leadership traits they will be rewarded with appreciation and recognition but at the same time, the one who neglects his responsibilities would be punished regardless of his rank. To them values are what define their leadership code- courage, respect, strength, value for others is what they are firm believers of, their values are what set them apart from society. They believe a good leader is one working for 24hrs,365 days, regardless of what situation is, acts and behaves like a leader.

British army applies a combination of reward and discipline structure, they use coaching techniques to apply in during the practice sessions. The British army is always driven by their core values and all their efforts are directed to their one goal which is to protect their country at any cost.

 Leadership psychologies which can be used in defence organisation could be in either

  • Negative forms in way of punishments, scolding, or testing the individual in a various problematic situation or,
  • Positive form by way of rewards and appreciations.

Negative form of leadership is seen in many cases to be given more priority in defence organisations, as it is believed to give more authentic results from the subordinates. The element of ‘fear’ is mainly inserted in the mind of subordinates for the superiors and they are made to comply with the orders. According to one survey, an estimate of 20% of the army suffers from a “ Toxic Leadership” (Davidhizar, 2020) - It is a mixture of traits which are exhibited by a leader which is harmful to the subordinates which include a leader’s self-centred attitudes, superior behaviour and that behaviour that hurt subordinates which will ultimately hamper the organisation and overall mission performance. In such a scenario, a Leader loses empathy and concerns, if the superior is more concerned about his superiority and work position. This gives a sharp rise in the leader’s toxic behaviour for his sense of self-worth and acute self-interest. As a result, the subordinates start to feel demotivated and lose the sense of team spirit. Such type of leadership can only work in a short term scenario as it fails to hit the long term objectives.

 (Davidhizar, 2020) have commented that leadership exhibited in a chaotic situation becomes a conscious attempt by the leader to reduce the tension and ambiguity in the environment, continuously preventing the danger of changing situations. The insertion of a negative form of leadership in such scenario comes in the form of punishments to the one who doesn’t oblige or who deviate from the organisation goals rather for the self-interest of superior

Further, it is argued that defence organisations are seen likely to excel where leaders are stern and authoritative. Defence organisations indicated that the personal attitude of a leader is often interlinked with what his subordinates feel about the superior. For example - a leader's intelligence capabilities and athletic experiences were dependent more on subordinated ratings of his leadership while the leader degree of conformity was linked with superior’s ratings of leadership. Mainly the defence approach to adopting a leadership style is more rooted in the cultural values and past experiences exhibited by an organisation in adapting a leadership psychology style. Most probably the cultural values were built around the honesty, trust and respect which was deeply rooted long ago in the organisation. But it was seen a defence organisation which uses moreover perspective leadership style were failed in terms of effectiveness and quickly respondings by their subordinates. (MacNaughton, 2016)

The positive form of leadership mainly occurs where a subordinate is more comfortable without fearing the status quo. The defence organisations, therefore, spend considerable efforts in providing skill full and developmental programmes that help the subordinate in attaining knowledge, support and relevant skills which are mainly needed to strike an appropriate balance between receiving an order, following orders and executing the orders with their sense of judgements and mind.

The main and most relevant objective of applying psychology in the course of the army is to assist defence organisations for the achievement of its mission by contributing maximum to the capabilities and effective qualities exhibited by a subordinate in the defence organisation. Further studies found two common leadership theories which are widely used in every Defence organisation which are transformational leadership and transactional leadership. (MacNaughton, 2016)

Transformational leadership include building a healthy atmosphere within the team, and the subordinates and their ability to cope with dynamic changes and application of mind of own in terms of critical thinking. The leader who uses this style of leadership psychology is found to be more engaging and concerned about the interest of subordinates as well as the leader's position keeping in mind the end goal. (MacNaughton, 2016) Transformational leadership styles proved to give positive results with an efficient and well-developed interaction environment with the subordinates. (Beavan, 2018) A study by( Boies and Howell, 2018) found that the leaders who follow transformation style were more firm believers of making a collective identity with their teams. They were less concerned about their superiority. Further, it was found that transformational leaders were capable of adding significance and unique addition to the potential efforts of the subordinates. Transactional style of leadership is more related to the organization structure of the military. Though it is found it may not be as effective as the transnational style of leadership is, due to the inherited rewards attached to it. It was further stated by (Del Castillo, 2018) that transactional leadership could be linked up with calculative commitment, although it did have an impact on decreasing job motivation and the effectiveness of commitment. Because of this, there is a need for training the leaders correctly to minimise and prevent corruption among superiors. A study by (Del Castillo, 2018) that ineffective leadership can lead to negative consequences to the subordinates and to those who were almost dependent on it. A study conducted (Beavan, 2018) mainly on the defence organisations and other organisations revealed that subordinates were not in favour of a transactional style of leadership psychology but the leaders were the one who persistently exhibited it, despite the resistance shown.

The overall impact leads to a decrease in job satisfaction of subordinates and their attitude towards the superior. (Beavan, 2018)

 When these leadership theories were applied to the defence organisation it was seen to help and shape the overall structure of defence organisation by maximizing the effectiveness of work by subordinates, developing the core areas of strengths and finding the weak areas which were needed for more emphasis. Finding the effectiveness of leadership theory adopted and helping the superior to know the areas which required a new leadership policy. Enhancing the superior knowledge about his leadership strengths and enhancing the overall organisational goal. Adopting a leadership style in the defence organisations have also revealed the linkage of the leadership style adopted with the job satisfaction and programmes satisfaction of the subordinates. It has found that it influences highly the program satisfaction and job satisfaction of the subordinates. A study conducted by (MacNaughton, 2016) found that program satisfaction and job satisfaction of the subordinates were higher where the leadership style exhibited or adopted was matched to the preference or comfortability of the subordinates as well as the requirements of the objective. Hence it was concluded that leaders need to have high knowledge of the requirements of teams and the individual subordinates to implement a style that will bring maximum satisfaction and higher results. It was found that both leadership style whether it's transactional leadership or transformational leadership both have a major and significant relationship with workplace satisfaction. Leadership behaviour exhibited by the leader in the defence organisation is expected to be fully effective and proficient at each level. It’s not required from the part of the leader to be fully proficient always or to be exhibited immediately as it’s always dependent on the person's own experience and the roles he had performed. It is found that when a person reaches a level and remains there for a sustainable period, they naturally develop relevant skills and experience required for performing a task. In a nutshell, an ideal leadership applied by a leader in the defence organisation would be where the leader-Manages team and own abilities effectively. Applies and builds professional expertise. Adopts to, manages, and assess the impacts of change.

Taking responsibility for work projects and strive hard for the achievement of goals and builds team spirit and improves their capabilities at their level, improve their professional expertise, cope with uncertainty and handle it consciously for better results. Ensures closures by developing oriented results and acknowledges and understand others. Values subordinates and their individual needs and Positively respond to feedback continuously and provide helping hands in developing the subordinates knowledge, skills, capabilities and learning by Guiding, mentoring and developing people. Reconcile the subordinates interest with organisational interest.

 The relationship between leadership and followership in a defence organisation plays a significant role. There is no leadership without the followerships, there is a nexus relationship between both. The superior-subordinate relationship as seen in defence organisations are full of conflicts and many times serves a little sense of satisfaction. In a defence organisation, both leadership and followership are required throughout the teams and organization, with the same level of capacities from both ends of a superior and a subordinate. There is a need to understand that they are not just groups called teams following the command of higher authority but most cohere about a performance focus with clear goals pursued with discipline.

One cannot be a good follower if he isn't obliged to the leaders, and one cannot be a good superior if he doesn't consider the benefits of his followers.

In a defence organisation, there should be dynamic followership which examines how subordinates work their functions in change-oriented environments constantly moving fluidly between leading and following. It affects defence units on a more personal level due to the structure and nature of their system like it’s not usual for an officer to spend only two years in a job, which means the organisation must constantly deal with the changes wrought by the personnel and personality changeovers because of the mere fact that humans are resistant to changes. In the defence organisation, sociological psychological techniques are used towards the defence organisation subordinates to cope up with stress, anxiety and traumas by providing them with a series of motivation through counselling or lightning a spark in subordinates for a sense of achievements of their goals. A leader thus should use his leadership style in how the leader can manage the social and psychological aspects of his subordinates as well as maintaining team harmony, spirit and continue stepping up for their collective goals. A leadership style thus adopted should have both the capability to influence the minds of subordinates at a personal level so that the leader can reconcile the individual goal of the subordinate with that of the organisational goal of a defence organisation. Thus a good emphasis should be given to the sociological aspect also as it affects the subordinates at their levels while keeping always in mind the organisational goal. Further, a leader should always make sure if both the individual goals and organisational goals are not able to reconcile, then the priority should always be given to the organisation goals.

Conclusion on The Psychology of Leadership

After coming across various theories, aspects, various perspectives and opinions about leadership psychology in defence, the followership in defence and the sociological aspects of leadership psychology. The essay could be concluded that an ideal leadership psychology definition differs and is too wide according to the cases as concerned. The leadership used in various defence organisations have their characteristics which are confined to the boundaries of ethical values, the nature of the place where the organisation is situated, the cultural aspects, the history as well as the development in the society of the relevant defence organisation. It’s the power of mainly the superior to instruct, guide, motivate the subordinates. The superior too should consider the wide range of factors while adopting a particular style of leadership for the benefits of the subordinates as well as the organisation. Leadership psychology should be applied by a leader only after due and significant observations made by a leader.

References for The Psychology of Leadership

Hoch, J.E., Bommer, W.H., Dulebohn, J.H. and Wu, D., 2018. Do ethical, authentic, and servant leadership explain variance above and beyond transformational leadership? A meta-analysis. Journal of Management, 44(2), pp.501-529

Robbins, B. and Davidhizar, R., 2020. Transformational leadership in healthcare today. The Health Care Manager, 39(3), pp.117-121

Boamah, S.A., Laschinger, H.K.S., Wong, C. and Clarke, S., 2018. Effect of transformational leadership on job satisfaction and patient safety outcomes. Nursing Outlook, 66(2), pp.180-189

Jensen, U.T., Andersen, L.B., Bro, L.L., Bøllingtoft, A., Eriksen, T.L.M., Holten, A.L., Jacobsen, C.B., Ladenburg, J., Nielsen, P.A., Salomonsen, H.H. and Westergård-Nielsen, N., 2019. Conceptualizing and measuring transformational and transactional leadership. Administration & Society, 51(1), pp.3-33

Lord, R.G., Day, D.V., Zaccaro, S.J., Avolio, B.J. and Eagly, A.H., 2017. Leadership in applied psychology: Three waves of theory and research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), p.434

Atkinson, C. and Posada, S., 2019. Leadership supervision for managers of educational psychology services. Educational Psychology in Practice, 35(1), pp.34-49

Van Knippenberg, D. and van Kleef, G.A., 2016. Leadership and affect: Moving the hearts and minds of followers. Academy of Management Annals, 10(1), pp.799-840

Chreim, S. and MacNaughton, K., 2016. Distributed leadership in health care teams: Constellation role distribution and leadership practices. Health care management review, 41(3), pp.200-212

Lucas, J.W., Greenberg, M. and Beavan, K., 2018. Research on physical disability in sociological social psychology: The state of the field and future directions. Sociology Compass, 12(2), p.e12555

Díaz-Loving, R. and del Castillo, C.C., 2018. Psychological, Sociological, and Cultural Social Psychology in Latin America. In Psychology in Latin America (pp. 159-193)

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