Former Secretary of Defense and General of the Army George C. Marshall once said, “The truly great leader overcomes all difficulties, and campaigns and battles are nothing but a long series of difficulties to be overcome. The lack of equipment, the lack of food, the lack of this or that are only excuses; the real leader displays his quality in his triumphs over adversity, however great it may be.” Leadership is challenging, demanding, and burdensome but rewarding, stimulating, and accomplishing. Mission command is a critical element of successful leadership. The philosophy allows commanders to make quick decisions and take action to achieve their objectives. This blog post will define mission command and discuss how each principle can be applied in leadership.
What is Mission Command
According to the Department of the Army, mission command is, “the Army’s approach to command and control that empowers subordinate decision-making and decentralized execution appropriate to the situation.”
Mission command is a philosophy of leadership that focuses on the commander’s intent and empowering subordinates to make decisions within that intent. The goal of mission command is to provide commanders with the flexibility to act and react quickly to changing situations while maintaining control over their unit.
The 7 Principles of Mission Command
The seven principles of mission command are essential for commanders to understand and apply to create a shared understanding within their unit and ultimately achieve success on the battlefield. Let’s define the seven principles.
Commanders must clearly understand what they are doing and be able to execute their tasks confidently. They must also be able to explain their decisions and actions to their subordinates.
Commanders must trust their subordinates to make decisions and carry out tasks independently. They must also trust their subordinates to provide honest feedback.
Commanders and subordinates must have a shared understanding of the mission, the situation, and each other’s roles.
Commanders must clearly articulate their vision and intent for the mission. This will help subordinates make decisions and take action even when the commander is not present.
Mission Command Orders
Commanders must give subordinates clear and concise orders focused on the mission, not on how to accomplish the mission. This allows subordinates to use their own initiative and judgment to complete the task.
Subordinates must exercise disciplined initiative within the commander’s intent. This means they must take action to accomplish the mission based on the commander’s order.
Commanders and subordinates must be willing to accept risk. This means they must be willing to take risks that may lead to failure and have the courage to seize opportunities that may lead to success.
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