“The Army needs to move with the times,” according to General Sir Nick Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen, Chief of the General Staff, as he launched the new Army Leadership Code to all the Regimental Sergeant Majors and Commanding Officers at a special event at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst yesterday (3 Sept 15).
Founded on the Army's core values and standards the code draws together and formalises elements of good leadership that have been practised for centuries. Key to the new code is the Army’s ability to tackle unreasonable behaviour, including bullying, harassment and discrimination.
Explaining his vision for a modern and inclusive Army that takes a no-tolerance approach to bullying General Carter said: “The operating context is very different to the one perhaps we grew up in 25 to 30 years ago. Therefore we feel it is important to lay out what it is we want people to do by way of leadership to help them have the tools that they need.
“What we don’t want to see are the values and standards we espouse not being adhered to both in peace time and in war time. And, it’s really important that we live by those values and standards, because they are the basis on which teamwork is built.”
In addressing the Army’s leaders, General Carter said: “Today is essentially about improvement, because we’re not bad at leadership. We just simply want to get better at leadership by recognising the context in which we are going to have to lead in the future and the nature of those that we are going to have to lead.”
As the senior soldier in the British Army, and champion of the Army Leadership Code, Army Sergeant Major WO1 Glenn Haughton will be pivotal in ensuring the code is implemented through the chain of command.
WO1 Haughton said: “CGS wants the army to become a modern employer. The world, society and our country is ever changing and the British Army needs to keep up with the changes. There has been in the past some unacceptable behaviour within the British Army, which we need to stamp out and the Army Leadership Code is a method for us to change our culture over time to prevent these unacceptable behaviours.
“There’s already been a series of symposiums to regimental sergeant majors and commanding officers throughout the year letting them know what the code is so they can brief units, so everyone in the army already should be aware of what the code is. But from today, this is when the chain of command of the Army can go out and launch the code within their units.
“It’s going to work under guidance of commanding officers, hence why they are here today, supported by regimental sergeant majors who will be the champions within their own units. And how they do it within their unit is up to them, because we are so diverse in the army from one corps to another, that no one knows their regiment or unit better than the commanding officer or regimental sergeant major. So it’s down to them how they implement it. We just give them the methods and the tools to do so.
“What we are hoping the army leadership code will do is it will teach. It’s leaders creating leaders. It shows soldiers what good and bad leadership is, so they can highlight the fact that someone isn’t carrying out their leadership as they should do, and they can bring it up to their chain of command that the leadership is not in line with army leadership.
“The beauty of the code is everyone is aware of it, so even if a person being bullied doesn’t do anything about it, what this does is it lets the person on his or her left or right do what they need to do to help that person being bullied.
“A culture change is going to take time and how we go about measuring statistics and data from the code, I can’t really pinpoint. All I know is the code can only make leadership better in the British Army.”
General Carter added: “I wouldn’t say the culture is wrong at the moment particularly. What I would say is it’s a culture that needs to evolve. We’ve got here today every Commanding Officer in the British Army and every Regimental Sergeant Major, and their chain of command above.
“The way the Army implements change is it uses the chain of command, particularly of Commanding Officer and unit level, as the mechanism for doing this, and by gathering all these COs and RSMs together today, it’s my expectation that they will understand the importance of the Army as an institution, rise to the challenge and they will go away and they will lead their people as a consequence of this.”
The seven leadership behaviours
The new code consists of seven leadership behaviours:
- Lead by example
- Encourage thinking
- Apply reward and discipline
- Demand high performance
- Encourage confidence in the team
- Recognise individual strengths and weaknesses
- Strive for team goals
“Following this code will develop our leaders, junior and senior, so that they are supported and challenged to do the right thing every time. It will help us towards being a member of an outstanding team that will succeed whenever and wherever we are called upon to do our duty” - CGS