Survey shows lack of Army civilian leader development
November 7, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 7, 2011) -- Findings in a Center for Army Leadership annual survey indicate the quality of civilian leadership is favorable and appears stable, but improvements are needed in leader development.
"While favorable doesn't mean perfect, there is always room for improvement," said John Steele, research team lead for CAL's 2010 Annual Survey of Army Leadership.
Army civilians also believe improvements could be made in developing their subordinate leaders, building effective teams, creating a positive environment, leading by example, and communication.
"To clarify, Army civilians perceive that their leadership is favorable. My interpretation of the data is that many of their perceptions did not change from last year to this year," Steele said.
In 2005, the Annual Survey of Army Leadership was established by CAL and the Combined Arms Center to assess and track trends of leader perceptions on leader development, the quality of leadership, and the contribution of leadership to mission accomplishment. The 2011 survey is currently being fielded.
Military and civilian leaders, who receive the 2011 CASAL, should complete and return the survey quickly so their views on the state of Army leadership are included in analytical reports that will be issued in 2012.
This is the second year in which Army civilian leaders participated in CASAL.
When the responses to FM 6-22's Leadership Requirements Model competencies were examined, Steele said, only three items were below CASAL's two-thirds threshold:
• Leads by Example, 65 percent
• Creates a Positive Environment, 64 percent
• Develops Others, 55 percent
And only one item was significantly below the threshold:
• Develops Others, 55 percent
"These numbers were in all cases better than those obtained the prior year (though in many cases the differences were quite small, and thus are stable). While leadership is positive overall, there are weaknesses. As an example of how leadership can be favorable, but weaker in certain areas, consider only 55 percent favorability for developing others, but 76 percent favorability for getting results," Steele said.
Two strengths of civilian leader attributes, he said, are living the Army values and demonstrating empathy.
"Like all organizations, the Army has to be concerned with getting results, and our civilian leaders get results. At the same time, like many other organizations that face cutbacks and hiring freezes, some things don't receive a high-level of priority.
"Army civilian leaders also face additional challenges, such as difficulty terminating a poor performer or properly rewarding a high performer. That's not to say that we shouldn't actively try to improve our shortcomings, especially in the areas of leader development and improved communication," Steele said.
While civilians are satisfied with their careers and committed to their jobs, they also reported that they operated under a high stress workload, coupled with a lack of information flow and leader development.
"We, at the Center for Army Leadership, are not just looking at how to improve shortcomings in our civilian leaders, but also in our uniformed leaders. We've already shared the results of the survey with thousands of civilian and uniformed leaders and shared our recommendations with the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Secretary of the Army.
Steele said the center is also partnering with other Department of Army organizations to make changes that aren't in their lane of responsibility.
"We are in the process of updating ADP 6-22, the Army field manual on leadership to make it more relevant to civilians and highlight how to improve shortcomings that we've noticed through the survey.
"We have also created a high-quality 360-degree feedback system available to all Army civilians at http://msaf.army.mil/. Additionally, we are developing online trainings and guides specific to leadership issues and challenges," Steele said.
For the 2009 CASAL, over 26,000 Army civilians were surveyed, of which 9,414 participated for a response rate of 36 percent. For the 2010 CASAL, 18,000 Army civilian leaders were surveyed, of which 5,882 participated for a response rate of 33 percent.
The sampling error for the level of response in the current year is +/- 1.3 percent, which means that obtained percentages (of perceptions) are accurate to within plus or minus 1.3 percentage points, he said.
Findings for Army civilian leaders are addressed in three key areas:
• Quality of Leadership
• Climate and Situational Factors within the Working Environment
• Quality of Leader Development
Of the 18,000 contacted to participate this past year, about 33 percent, or 5,882 Army civilian leaders, indicated 61 percent of the leaders in their unit or organization are effective.
Specifically, they reported 76 percent are effective in getting results, 70 percent are effective in leading others, and 72 percent are seen as setting the standard for integrity and character, and demonstrating resilience when facing adversity.
The Army Leader Development Model highlights three approaches to leader development: work experience, self-development, and institutional education.
"Work experience and self-development are most often viewed as effective in preparing civilian leaders for new leadership and responsibility, followed by institutional education. This led to our recommendation to increase focus on civilian leader development," Steele said.
The research team, led by Steele, assures all Army civilians that senior Army leaders, including the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army, are aware of the survey's feedback and are working to improve the shortcomings identified by this survey.
For information on CASAL reports, visit http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/digitalpublications.asp.
For additional information on the CASAL, call 913-758-3240. For media inquiries, call 913-684-3097.