Legitimate Leadership Presents To The British Army

Legitimate Leadership in the UK last month took up an invitation to address the Headquarters, Home Command, of the British Army.

Legitimate Leadership had been asked to address a virtual internal conference of the headquarters on leadership and change. Wendy Lambourne and David Harding, both of Legitimate Leadership, gave their presentation the title “Serve To Lead” because that is the name of a handbook used by officers at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

The presentation and questions, which lasted for an hour, was held on 2 March 2021, and was attended by about 50 military personnel and 30 civilians.

In the presentation, Wendy Lambourne observed that Legitimate Leadership’s perspective on leadership – summarised in the phrase “benevolence in the heart but steel in the hand” – accords with much of officer training at Sandhurst. “This is also the core of their ethos – although they may use different words and different ways of getting there to Legitimate Leadership,” she said.

The Legitimate Leadership presentation was based on three premises:

  1. Organisations only really change when those who work in them change. Leaders change, then their people change, then different results are achieved. Legitimate Leadership has never seen this process work in reverse – in other words, that results change, then people change, then leaders change.
  2. The precondition for sustainable organisational change is trust between leadership and their people. When trust is high, even radical change is relatively easy; when it is low, change is difficult or impossible to achieve.
  3. At every level, but especially at senior leadership level, the leadership task is to challenge the status quo and effect change for the better. Thus leaders should be judged on what has changed which is in the best interests of all stakeholders as a result of their leadership.

Given these three premises, the presentation focused on two topics:

  1. What accounts for trust in an organisation, and
  2. How leaders successfully change.