|This research has significant
implications for the public affairs field, the military leadership community
as a whole and leadership theory building. Using this type of research,
public affairs enlisted and officer personnel can develop necessary upward
influence skills to develop more supportive commanders. Military
leaders can make use of this type of research not only for improving their
perspectives of public affairs, but also as leaders in general. Leadership
remains a rich field of opportunity for study, especially for developing
leaders who gain the most from their subordinates.
While chain of command
is universal in any hierarchical organization be it military or civilian,
the military’s view of that chain is the probably the most stringent.
This presents unique problems for public affairs specialists and officers.
What is the most effective way to tell the commander he or she is wrong
about throwing the media off the base? How do they get the commander
to see that talking to the media IS important? Through developing
a method of analyzing and understanding perceptions and how to change them
through persuasion tactics, PA practitioners can better deal with non-supportive
attitudes from their commanders. Research such as this will help
PA practitioners develop tactics that are easily operationalized in “real-world”
Incumbent upon PA professionals
is their responsibility to educate their commanders about the proper role
of public affairs and the benefits that it brings to the mission.
It is not simply enough for a PAO to determine that his commander is non-supportive,
and then give up trying to initiate effective programs. Without an
ongoing process of educating commanders, public affairs will be left by
the wayside. PAOs have to be their own advocates, and they must constantly
stress the importance of their mission in accomplishing unit goals.
Until all commanders realize what public affairs brings to the fight, it
will continue to be an underused and undervalued, yet critical resource.
The concept of leadership
itself is more than simply telling someone what to do or dropping bombs
on target. Too often some leaders lose sight of the fact that they
do more than “drop bombs on target.” While this is essential to the
combat mission, leadership hardly stops there. Leadership is developing
subordinates both professionally and personally, directing multi-group
taskings, praising and rebuking appropriately, establishing credibility
with subordinates, learning “people” skills, and so on. Some have
these abilities naturally, most have to learn them through practice, observation,
and education. This type of research is not only effective for identifying
“what not to do,” but also expanding on the positive and essential skills
leaders can currently use.
In generating new theory,
research of this nature can establish alternate ways of looking at the
senior-subordinate relationship as it deals with the military. This
survey can be used to develop a leadership grid similar to the one outlined
by Harris and Sherblom (1999). While that managerial grid can be
applied to the military is some fashion, it does not take into consideration
the culture of the military. In the research, the authors only found
theories of leadership that can be generically applied to the military
leader. By expanding and developing this research, by modifying or
adapting the Leader-Member Exchange theory to accommodate military philosophy,
new ideas and models can be developed to explain or predict the behavior
of not only leaders, but subordinates as well. One suggestion would
be to consider modifying the current survey to establish the commander’s
perceived leadership style, be it authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-faire,
the impact it has on the public affairs program, and what image it gives
the commander in the external and internal media. Continued study
of this nature in the public affairs area as well as the general military
leadership field, will generate large amounts of new data to continue to
modify existing theories of leader and subordinate behavior, and create
new theories as well.