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Learning what it means to lead

At its most basic level, leadership is about behaviour. It's about the building of effective relationships to influence the actions of other people, enabling them to contribute to the success of the Army in a professional and ethical manner.

People might think that military leadership is clear-cut. But in fact leadership is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ in the military. There is no single approach or leadership style that fits the New Zealand Army. Unlike a business leader, our leaders work in a military context, where circumstances can quickly change.

There are physical risks, moral challenges and psychological pressures. It means our leaders need to constantly assess the situation and environment, so that they can adjust their behaviour appropriately.

From the beginning, everyone in the Army accepts that they have a responsibility to support their own development. This is known as ‘Lead Self’ in the NZDF Leadership Development system. The system progresses through Lead Teams, Lead Leaders, Lead Systems, Lead Capability, Lead Integrated Capability and Lead Organisation. This system supports the progression and transitioning of our leaders.

As our people's careers progress, they are immersed in the philosophy of every person in the Army being a leader, and that leadership development is shared across the organisation. 

Our leadership development is strongly aligned with workplace experiences. Formal education, training and courses all contribute to leadership, and so does coaching, but the development of leaders within the workplace is a strongly-embedded culture within our Army. Our leaders are stretched and exposed to novel situations. New experiences are a fact of life in the Army, due to the required posting cycle and rotation of military personnel.

Our leaders never stop learning and are constantly developing skills on the job. It's part of our culture that our leaders develop other leaders because as people progress and change roles, or are promoted, we need to have leaders following in their footsteps.