Command, Leadership and Management

Just had a dialogue session with a SAF senior officer yesterday. Once again, the word “culture” popped into the dialogue and it caused me to wonder why the military entered this “fuzzy” domain of the unmeasurable. Isn’t the military simply a tool of the nation? An extension of the policy space? Policy by other means? In the modern world, where the lines between nations grow more porous, the military’s role also become more fuzzy, or as the military guys put it, “Wide Spectrum of Operations.”

As a professional officer, while searching for the boundaries of my profession, it is important to give that direction to my subordinates as well. Imagine when the leaders are unsure of themselves, how can their followers be sure? Here, the aspects of command, leadership and management comes about. These are the other words mentioned in the dialogue. Command, as we know it, is an authority given to an officer and comes with it responsibility to the mission and his subordinates. Leadership and Management are also seen as different aspects of Command.

Which is more important? Instinctive, I would say Leadership. However, I was corrected yesterday when the senior commander mentioned that being a manager is just as important. In leading a unit or organization, vision and direction is crucial. “Doing the right thing” gives the people purpose and meaning in the daily routine. However, management is just as crucial and often underlooked. “Doing things right” is what set Singapore apart. Daily “doing things right” and doing them effectively plays an important part in bringing us where we are today. Imagine if the leader has great ideas but was unable to follow through with them.

Personally, I recognize that I do have a issue with carrying things through and am resolved to be a good manager and leader…


2 thoughts on “Command, Leadership and Management

  1. If command is an art (as it deals with people dynamics), then management is science (structures and systems). As an analogy, I see command and management at either ends of a see-saw. Leadership sits in the middle and tilts the balance to either end based on the current context and situation. But it should not stay at either end for too long for a leader never stops learning…. just like what you have done in documenting your own learning journey.

    Great day to be a soldier!


  2. Culture enters – as much as it is fuzzy, unmeasurable – precisely because culture is fundamental to the human condition, and the military organisation is a human edifice. You cannot avoid the “culture” in any aspect of the military.

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