Leadership Effectiveness in the Army: A Perspective from the U.S. Army War College

Flavio de Almeida Serapião, University of Pennsylvania


The military is one of the most respected institutions in the U.S., and effective leadership is among its main characteristics. The purpose of this study was to determine what factors, behaviors, and models are associated with leadership effectiveness in the Army. In order to do so, I used a qualitative approach to interview a key knowledgeable and reputational sample of selected proven effective Army leaders. The sample consisted of 24 Colonels who were attending a strategic program at U.S. Army’s War College, one of the finest Military educational institutions in the U.S. Bringing valuable insights from their vast Army leadership experiences, some of them leading thousands of people in combat and international operations, this sample characterized what the research literature defines as information-rich cases—cases from which one can learn a great deal about the focus of inquiry and that are worthy of in-depth study. The data was analyzed through a thematic analysis process and triangulated with a quantitative survey to validate the results. The quantitative survey was based on the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI), and a correlation and factor analysis were used to triangulate the results. From the study’s results emerged five findings. First, effective leaders in the Army accomplish the mission and, at the same time, take care of their people. Second, effective leaders in the Army practice three core behaviors—is approachable and open, balances the mission and the people, and knows how the processes and operations work—and 10 complementary behaviors, which integrate and reinforce each other. Third, poor leaders in the Army cannot accomplish the mission and, at the same time, take care of their people. Fourth, effective leadership behaviors in the Army are supported by the principles of the prominent leadership theories. Fifth, effective leaders in the Army practice even more ‘people & emotions’—oriented behaviors than the Army’s official doctrine manual originally proposes. Finally, this study develops a checklist based on the Army’s leadership best practices that contributes to the understanding of how effective leaders in the Army brilliantly balance mission accomplishment and people caring.

Subject Area

Organizational behavior|Higher education|Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

de Almeida Serapião, Flavio, "Leadership Effectiveness in the Army: A Perspective from the U.S. Army War College" (2020). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27832997.