Rethinking Special Operations Leadership: Process, Persuasion, Pre-existing, and Personality

Authored by:
Paul Lieber
Published on 2/1/2016
Digital Only

In this paper Dr. Lieber describes leadership characteristics through the lens of special operations.  By exploring the importance of process, persuasion, pre-existing schemata, and personality nuances on special operations leadership training and execution, along with additional traits/characteristics necessary for success within them, Dr. Lieber extends beyond the traditional definitions of military leadership. The first section looks at process and adaptation to innovation.  Organizations must innovate, but it is the leader’s responsibility to make certain that innovation is both appropriate and matched to an established goal.  The next section explores the leader’s power of persuasion and the ability to nuance messaging and influence desirable opinions and consensus building.  He then explores pre-existing schemata and provides recommendations to avoid cognitive dissonance.  Finally, personality differences are described with a nod to exploiting teams comprised of diverse personality types.  Dr. Lieber is an award-winning scholar and practitioner on global strategic communication. Currently a resident senior fellow at JSOU, he previously served as the command writer for two USSOCOM commanders.