October 20, 2022 | 46 min

Episode 2: Leadership Development in the Australian Army

Leadership Development in the Australian Army How do other organizations prepare for the future of work? How do they look at leadership development? Why is this episode special you wonder? Because we are going to dive into a totally new space - the army. Joining us on this exploration is Jamie Martin, Director of the Centre for Australian Army Leadership.

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Episode Podsheet

Here's the main things we got out of this episode, and something you should keep in mind as well.

Episode Transcript

Milica: Hello and welcome to another episode of Offbeat On Air. Today’s topic is leadership. We are talking all things leadership and more specifically, we talk about the journey of becoming a leader, as well as about the efforts of building the next generation of leaders. Why this episode is special - it is because we are going to dive into a totally new space - the army. Joining us on this exploration is Jamie Martin!

Lavinia: Jamie has an incredible story! He has led teams of up to 2,000 as a Helicopter Force commander and pilot. As the Commanding Officer of the 5th Aviation Regiment in the Australian Army, he led missions across the SW Pacific and Australia deployed on security missions, amphibious operations, and national disasters like floods and bushfires. He is now the Director of the Centre for Australian Army Leadership where he is developing programs to grow the leaders of 2040. We are pleased to have you, Jamie! Welcome to Offbeat on Air.

Jamie: Thanks very much for having me. It's really great to be here.

Lavinia: To be honest, growing up and even now, I've watched so many movies with the Army, so I was always so curious to actually meet someone from there. So this is a huge honor for me and I know that for Mili as well. I'm actually just gonna start with like the first part. How did you end up in the army? 

Jamie: Yeah, great question. Great question. Lavinia. So I was studying at university and I was in Australia. In Australia, we have the Army Reserve, and so I joined the Army Reserve where I could do my military training in my gaps in study and that could help pay my way through University. So it was basically I wanted to learn something but also earn some money to pay through university. And then I did that for three years of my four years, four years at university. And then I actually got offered by the Army to come in on a one-year contract straight off the back of university because they had a vacancy in a particular command job. So I was like, Sure, I'll give that a crack. Jumped in, really enjoyed it. Learned a lot of where I needed to develop, particularly as a leader. And then I said, All right, I'll stick with this. And I went to our Royal Military College and did the officer training and then off I went. Here we are. Right. 

Lavinia: Years, Yeah. Years later. 

Jamie: Yeah, 20 years later. 

Lavinia: You mentioned the word leader, so let's, let's go with that. Like how was your experiences, how, how old you are actually?

Jamie: Right now 41, now.

Lavinia: Oh, so you were in your twenties basically? 

Jamie: Yeah. Yep. I was only, I was only 21 when I was in my first leadership job in the Army. 

Lavinia: Oh, awesome. How was it? 

Jamie: Well, well, it was really challenging because I hadn't done that much specific leadership training. I had done some, but I also didn't have much life experience yet, so I was leading a team of 30 soldiers. I was only 21. Most of them were 18 to 22 year old, and I was basically the same age. And I learned a lot from making mistakes at the start, and we did a lot of tricky missions. So we, we spent time at sea boarding, smuggling ships that were coming in from Indonesia across to Australia. We spent time in East Timor helping the security transition to independence. So we did some pretty tricky missions. But I didn't really know what I was doing very well. And so, I learned a lot from making mistakes. 

Lavinia: Well, can, can you give us some examples, if you can reflect a bit on, on that experience? 

Jamie: Yeah. Well, one of the biggest, one of the biggest mistakes I made was I call it likership over leadership. So where and you'll just have to excuse my dog in the background, but like, likership over leadership. So where you want to be, liked by the team. So you don't make the hard decisions or you don't approach your role in the right way because you don't wanna be seen as harsh or direct or anything. You wanna, you wanna try and be a consensus-building person or just not. Put anyone offside, and so you don't actually stand up and do your job as a leader. And that's probably the root cause of a lot of the mistakes I made, which meant I wasn't guiding my team properly, I wasn't being clear with what we need to do, I wasn't owning a lot of the problems.

Jamie: I was trying to defer to the team. And so that was the root cause of a lot of the mistakes that I made there. And I realized that at the end of that year and, and when I'm gonna actually decide to change and learn some more. 

Mili: Yeah, I wanted to say it sounds very familiar. Also, when we work with first-time managers and, and, and, and leads actually we all go down that road, right? I think that's a common pitfall and I think it needs to happen for you to learn and, and set some boundaries. What is really interesting to me that we also see quite a lot in our work is that people are usually put in this role of leads, not really, you know, getting proper onboarding or actually wanting to do that. So you just suddenly become, you know, from a teammate a, a, a lead. And I wanted to ask, how was it for you? How have they identified you? He seems like a good lead? Who has discovered your potential or you just found yourself there and like they made you kind of work, work it your way. 

Jamie: Yeah. Well it's interesting because I agree with what you're saying. A lot of industries they'll promote someone to a leadership position just because they're good technic. So if you look at you know, even in the medical world, people are awesome at their specialty. So, therefore, alright, you're now gonna manage the department. Well, hang on, you might not actually be a good leader. You're just a really good doctor or a really good surgeon, or a really good nurse. So, Why are we putting you leading the department when that might not be your, your skillset? And it's the same with you know, my friends who are engineers and some of the engineers that get promoted into senior positions.

Jamie: It's like they're not actually good leaders. They're really good engineers. But in the, in the military, we, we have a structured pathway. Where people are trained as officers and senior NCOs to be in leadership positions with rank and authority, legal authority for that position. That doesn't always mean you are a really good leader, but you've had a bunch of training to be there, which is sometimes better than some of the other industries where you just get thrown into the job, but then it's still up to you. And I just, I say to people that leadership is a journey. And you have to actually step, take the first step and start that journey and commit to developing yourself. Otherwise, you'll never be a good leader. You might be a leader in name or in rank, but you won't be in practice. 

Lavinia: Yeah, I completely agree. To be honest, I remember my first leadership position. I was promoted because I was a good L&D professional and it was so hard, like the emotional toll it took on me, it was probably the hardest time of my career. So I can completely understand and, and relate, but you mentioned something and I'm, I'm really curious to deep dive into that. You mentioned having some sort of training, like how do learning experiences look like in the army? 

Jamie: Yeah. Well at our Royal Military College, which is a bit like Sandhurst in the UK or similar to the officer training in the United States, there's a structured curriculum where you learn both tactics and leadership, to then be commissioned as an officer. So, or war-fighting tactics plus leadership in the context of combat. And a lot of the leadership is kind of by immersion. So you put into a leadership role in an exercise, in a combat exercise, and then you have, you do a bunch of different lessons and small team learning, but then you're, you sort of practice by doing so planning, giving orders, making decisions, coordinating the combat situation, and then getting debrief.

Jamie: And trying to learn from your experience. So that's the sort of immersive environment that you do. And our, our training program's 18 months long. In Australia. It's 12 months in the UK at Sandhurst. Yeah, so you actually go from, you know, learning to be your basic soldier skills and, and leading a small team of 10 people up to leading a larger team by the time you are in all different types of combat scenarios.

Jamie: And then if you do well and you pass everything, you get your commission from the governor general from the Queen down through the Governor General. So you're an officer. Yeah. So that's, but that's actually really the start of your journey in my view. That's the basic building blocks. And then when you get into your first role out there with real soldiers, that's when you actually start learning.

Lavinia: And what kind of skills do you think like you, you needed when you were a leader that you didn't have and caused all those, all those mistakes? Like what do you need as a leader, it feels like such a particular role when you need to think on your feet and align people on the ground with no tools, Only yourself as, as a tool somehow.

Lavinia: Mm. Well, it's, it's really interesting. I mean, we've been unpacking it at the moment in my current role because I'm the director of the Center for the Australian Army Leadership. And so in my, my team, we are trying to develop the leadership programs for the leader of 2040. So what's our future leader need to be? And so we're working on we, we are introducing a bunch of new thinking, bunch of new models, but we're starting it with the basis of you need to understand yourself.

Jamie: You really need to understand yourself. You need to understand your motivations, your strengths, your weaknesses how you naturally interact with others, what your biases are, what your tendencies are. How you naturally think in terms of strategic thinking, creative and critical thinking.

Jamie: And then how you then lead. Planning and, and then teams from there. So starting with yourself first, then how you operate, leading a team, and then up upwards from there. So that's the, the idea we're, we're working on, which is, it's not groundbreaking, but it's just a new paradigm to make it really deliberate and then have a whole structured way of doing.

Jamie: And I mean there's, there's five dimensions I've been working on in a model that we're designing at the moment. And we're looking at, you know, empirical skills emotional skills, experimental skills, reflective skills, and interpersonal skills. And those five dimensions are sort of what we're breaking down to go, how are we developing each of these, and then how do we scaffold it up from knowing yourself first upwards from.

Milica: That's really lovely. And I wonder maybe from your experience, because it is pretty novative, what I hear, especially in the context of this what you said, very structured context and path that is there going into more self-awareness and reflection. How did you see this path changing over the time? How did you see leadership maybe as a topic developing with the army? 

Jamie: Yeah, great question. in general, we're way behind on our learning design, you know, and your audience will be royal across this, but we're, we are very much our old, we we're stuck in our old model of, you know, learning is somewhere you, you go and do something, not something that you do, right?

Jamie: Learning is somewhere you go, not something you do. And we've gotta break that cuz we, we have this thing where you go on a course for, you know, three weeks and you do all this stuff and then you come back and you've completed the course. So suddenly you're, you've learned all this leadership stuff. It's like, no, no, no, no.

Jamie: It's learning in, in the flow of work, learning through experience, learning through practice. So we're trying to flip that on its head and, and go, lll right, how do we partner with someone's learning as they go. Particularly on these skills, such the soft skills and leadership skills, because you actually learn by doing, you know, build to learn, you know, practice in immersive environment, which is actually your job.

Jamie: And that's, and then how do you actually have a method of learning, accessing resources, connecting with others, reflecting on where you're going, have a structured way of building and then keep progressing. And so that's, that's what we're trying to build. 

Milica: And you mentioned what I really liked. This debrief as part of, hey, you go there, things happen, and then you come back and, and reflect together. Can you tell us a bit more? How would that be? For example, if you, I don't know, experience something who would facilitate this debrief? How do we, how do you make sure that you get best out of that experience so that you can learn for the next time. 

Jamie: Yeah, we have a structured process for both aviation missions, the helicopter missions that I've, that's my career.But we also have a structured process for other military exercises, and we call it an after action review. After action review. So it's, it's a deliberate process of reviewing, Alright, what did we plan? What did we execute? What are the things, what are the lessons that came out of what is, what worked, what didn't?

Jamie: What were the safety implications? What are the risk implications? And then what are the lessons we're taken away? And, and you actually do that as a big team and sometimes a really big team when you've got, you know, a couple of thousand people in a task group and you'll bring. You'll bring the leadership teams in and everyone sits around and listens, and then you'll go through and unpack the whole exercise and go, go by phase of what you did.

Jamie: And then if someone is capturing or the learning, so that you then have it documented at the end and then you go, Alright, well how, Cause you know, there's, I like to say there's learning identified and there's lessons to learn, Sorry, lessons identified, and then lessons learned. To learn them, you actually have to, input them into your new practices.

Jamie: And it has to be in tangible procedures and in, in planning for the next thing before, and then you have to do it before it's learned. Otherwise, it's just identified 

Lavinia: That, that's so cool. And I, I'm gonna build on top of that because you also mentioned learning in the flow of work, and maybe like our, our audience and even ourselves, we don't have a very good understanding of what it actually means to be in the army, because on television you only see these missions.

Lavinia: But I'm, I'm really curious because when your there in, in a mission, you don't have access to e-learning or, or whatever, right? So I'm curious, like, first what's the, the, what are the parts of being in the army and I guess roles are very diverse for sure, but there are some common features being on the mission or not being there.

Lavinia: And what does learning in the flow of, of work means for, for both these situations? 

Jamie: Yeah, great. Great question. So we, we break up our roles into our specialties. So I, my background's all in helicopters, so aviation is my specialty, but then we operate with the infantry. So they're the foot, foot soldiers if you like.

Jamie: Then you've got the armor core, which are the tanks. You've got artillery, which is the big guns. You've got Intelligence core, you've got signals, which is all communications and so, and then you've got logistics, which is all the supply, resupply, trucks, everything like that. So we have all those different specialties, but then when you go on a deployment over to support another country or something, then you bring the teams together across the disciplines and you form a task group. And so you need to bring your specialty to the team, but then you need to learn to team quickly and effectively. For a design mission, particularly if we're doing disaster response or something like that, we have to team really quickly.

Jamie: We've supported lots of bushfires, floods, cyclones, you know, tsunamis around Australia and the Southwest Pacific. And so we've formed teams like, you know, day to do some of those things. So so bringing those teams together when, when we are back home and we are not actually doing a mission. Then we are preparing and we're training our people, and we're training about skills and our procedures and rehearsing and developing all of the things we're gonna bring to a mission.

Jamie: So for aviation my, my last role was as the combining officer of the Fifth Aviation Regimen, which is our largest helicopter unit in the army up in North Queensland in Australia. And so we would have a, a daily flying program where we were flying day missions and night missions where we are training specific skills.

Jamie: And so it, it might be we're doing you know, troop, troop movement missions. You know, we're doing resupply missions. We're doing you know, instrument flying. We're doing emergency medical extraction missions. 

Jamie: You know, we would have a training program that sets out throughout the year. These are the missions we're gonna train across these weeks. This is the big activity we've got coming up, that we're gonna put it all together and then this is the standards that we want to hit for all of our crew. And so you got a structured training program so that you are, you know, you are not just burning holes in the sky. You know, I say turning dinosaurs into noise, burning, burning jet fuel.

Jamie: You, you're actually achieving something where everyone's learning and you're building your skills and you're getting that robust experience base. So when the balloon goes up, you're ready to go with it at a good level. And so that's for aviation than the other, the other different specialties, they have their own training programs that, that work on their skills, but we often do it together as well.

Jamie: So we'll do a combined infantry and, and aviation often particularly up in towns where we do it, you know, every second week where fine with, with the infantry in our aircraft and practicing. So they're practicing their skills and we're practicing our combined. 

Lavinia: Nice. Do you have any like, specific goals? And I'm asking you this because like a goal setting in learning experience design is probably one of our biggest challenges. And you did mention like hitting a specific like target when it comes to how you do how you prepare for a specific mission. Like do you have specific goals you're, you're looking at?

Jamie: Yeah, so we would structure our goals around our mission sets. So one of it, for example, I'll give you one. So one of our mission sets is amphibious operations, so that's operating off ships. And so we would train up a bunch of the skills to for operating at sea. When the ship's not there, and then we, then we arranged with the Navy to the ship for the ship to be off, off the coast. Then we'll be building the skills with the ship. And so then the milestones that I would set would be about, all right, we wanna do a, a three aircraft formation by night with this many soldiers operating to the ship at this range. And when you wanna plan and execute in this timeframe. So it might be you've only got four hours to plan.

Jamie: we wanna achieve this size of mission and, and these environmental conditions. And if we get to that level, then we have had to build all of the sub, you know, the sub-skills to get to that level of mission. And sometimes that's a one, one-year program to get to achieve that level of mission, particularly if it's the, when we're operating by night we're operating on night vision goggles.

Jamie: And when there's no moon, it's really, it's really tricky to fly on night vision goggles cuz they just enhance the ambient light. So when we say we can do this in zero moon at this range with this many people, with this many aircraft, then we've got to a good level when we pull it off safely.

Milica: Can I just jump in quickly? How do you feel the milestones or the difficulty of setting the mindset for technical versus leadership skills are for you? Like because I believe we also have these different categories of skills and when we talk with the leads for their teams, for example, they are always sure whether their teams are good technically, like do they know to do this and that. But when it comes to communication, collaboration, influence whatever it is that is important for their role, we do struggle to define milestones with them. So have you experienced this yourself as well, and how do you go about it? 

Jamie: Yeah, so it's a great question and really, really important. For my team up in Townsville when I was leading them and that my unit was about 600 people. I then had my subordinate commanders. So I had five squadrons and each squadron is about a hundred people or so. And so I would really work with those leaders. To help them develop, but I would also work with the leaders one below them. And so, so I would go two down. So in terms of leadership development, the, the way I would gauge that was go and sit in on an activity that they're running.

Jamie: Or go and listen to a, a briefing or go and fly a mission with their team. And so I could see how they were leading through what was happening in their team dynamics and also how the culture was in their team. And also like the attitude of everyone. And also how they presented ideas, how they collaboratively planned, and how they briefed and gave orders, and then how they debriefed their people and counseled their people and their performance. So it was, we had a bit like a coaching conversation that you would regularly do with those people to track their progress in the different areas of leadership that I wanted them to develop.

Jamie: And, and my my philosophy was do mentor two down, because then learning trickles up as. And I, I've seen it work well in different, but it's up, up to the mentor to do it well because you kind of, you, you're kind of going below your next level of your direct reports if you, if you know what I mean.

Jamie: But you, you tell them why and you help to show them the benefits of mentoring their people as the more senior person, because then it's a, it's a, a two-way street for that middle layer, if you know what I mean. And so that's, so, so it doesn't really answer your question in terms of milestones, but what the way that I set milestones for people was about identified areas of improvement in the coaching conversations. And we would write these down, so it'd be like, I really want you to work on your clarity of communication in this area when you brief your team in, in these type of missions, or I really want you to work on having empathy with your team. Because I've seen this bubbling or below the surface here around the squadron. And I need you to think about what, how you are running things that are affecting these aspects of people's lives. So I really want you to work on this and here's some tips that are, that I can pass on. 

Lavinia: Before moving on to hearing the rest of Jamie’s story, let’s take a break to mention someone who believed in our podcast and decided to join us as a sponsor: Innential. Innential makes it easy for HR and L&D teams to automate their talent development workflows like onboarding, personal development plans, and leadership development. They do so through their platform’s flexible learning path system, a diverse content library curated uniquely to your company’s needs, and the ability to upload internal company content like PDFs and videos. Dozens of companies are already using them to level up their talent development workflows, so if that’s something you’re interested in, book a call with them from their website, mention Offbeat On Air, and their founders will happily get in touch with you.

Lavinia: I wanna go back actually to something you were saying earlier about designing the leadership program for the next generation. And I'm really curious what triggered that because I can imagine this doesn't happen like every day or even every year, redesigning a whole program for an organization I'm gonna call it like that, that's so established, right? So what, what triggered this need to change? 

Jamie: Yeah. Well, last year the our Chief of Army kicked off a project to redesign our foundation training. So all of our basic officer and soldier training and the team that I'm in are contributing to that. And so, and now our part is the leadership bit. And so it is, it is, as you say, a one in, in a generation or a one in 20-year type of event where we're actually going. Alright. What does the future of training need to be for our army?

Jamie: Because we've been stuck in our old ways for quite a while, and it's about time to get, get, get up with the, get up with the future. So, yeah, exactly. And it's, I think it's been we've been relying on our history and relying on the way it's always been done has worked. So why change, you know? And, and also I think the, particularly the you know, millennials and Gen Z generation coming in, people have different motivations and different attitudes to work in the workplace, and the military is not immune to that.

Jamie: We just have had a head in the sand a bit. And so we, what we've been thinking is you know, we need to redefine what it means to be part of our organization. Because there's a war for talent across the world and in Australia. So the military, we've been funded by the government to grow by 8,000 people over the next couple years.

Jamie: We can't get enough people in the door. So we have to think about how we're approaching the workplace, what value we're giving people, and what it means to be learning as part of our organization and contributing to security of the nation. So a few imperatives for us to change. 

Lavinia: That's, that sounds so similar to, to be honest, it just feels like any other corporation that's out there that realize they need to change because, you know, when Covid hit, the great resignation happened and, yeah, people are leaving because they don't have career development opportunities, for example. So, yeah. You're with us. We can feel your, your pain. And now talking about the future, you were mentioning something so interesting earlier that you have different teams across the organization and that you need to team up, right?

Lavinia: For, for a speicifc mission. And I do wonder if you like, how do you do that? Because when looking in the future, everyone is talking about how the workplace will change, right? Because so far we've had established teams and established roles and in the future, we will have more of this idea of teaming up for a specific project. And how have you handled this so far, and are you making any changes to, to how you're doing it? 

Jamie: Yeah, I think we're not making any really big shifts in our philosophy. What we're doing is practicing, doing things differently cuz we've been doing it since, you know, we the military existed. Rapid, rapid teaming.

Jamie: You know, you even look at World War I, World War II, you know, Vietnam, the way that we teamed even with other nations. We, we've done that. But what's really important is how you make that quicker and more effective. And that's about building the people skills across the organization because if you can, if you can come into a team and say one of, one of the biggest challenges is across services team, where you've got Navy, Army, and Air Force working together called a joint team.

Jamie: So you're coming from different cultures. You have to rapidly team up. I mean, one, I'll give you a story if you like if you're please, I mean, one of the really challenging examples was in, in 2018 when we had to go and support the APEC Economic Leaders Forum in Papa New Guinea. Where, you know, the vice president of the United States, our Prime Minister and a whole bunch of senior leaders from around the region came, came there for a conference and we were tasked with providing security and security response over in Papa New Guinea.

Jamie: We had to deploy our aircraft onto one of our landing helicopter dock ships with the Navy, and we got on board and in five days we had to be ready to execute all our missions by day and night off the ship. And so we hadn't worked with this ship before for a long time we were working with infantry and security forces that we hadn't worked with before.

Jamie: So we had five days to rapidly team in a complex operation, launching multiple helicopters within 30 minutes of activation to achieve security response off the ship, out off in the, of, of the coast of Papa New Guinea onto the land to help security forces of the Papa New Guinea. So we had to work. How are we going to rapidly get the departments of the ship and my team integrated and understand each other, work together, get our procedures honed, be able to execute and rehearse and do it by day and night in a safe manner and not hurt anyone, and then be ready to go in five days?

Jamie: And so some of the things that I did was I would embed some of my people into departments on the ship. So they were embedded there. So they were part of that team. And so then you had shared learning straight away. So for example, the firefighting team that that's ready to fight a fire if aircraft catches on fire on the deck of the of the ship, I would put my team, they were firefighting qualified people in there. So you had a combined Navy and army firefighting team. So then they instantly were bonding. They were instantly, you know, getting a feel of each other's culture, communicating. And then they could also tell me problems, right? Because I don't command the ship, I don't command the parts of the ship. I only command my team. So the only way to achieve any change of a procedure to execute our mission well was to have use influence and negotiation with the ship and work collaboratively. Because I couldn't tell 'em, Hey, change your procedure so I can get my aircraft off the deck quicker. No, no, no. We need to understand where each other's coming from and negotiate to do it safely.

Jamie: So by embedding my people into departments on the. You then have a conduit where, and if you create the environment as the leader, where it's psychologically safe, people can speak up and raise issues and straight up the chain, which is not normally done that quickly from a junior soldier right up to the commander.

Jamie: But I said, look guys, we need to solve this problem really quickly. I need you to tell me the problems as soon as you identify them, once you've had a chat, and see where you could go. So we can actually execute and solve these quickly as a team. So people like junior Soldiers will come to me, go, We got this communications problem. This is what I tried to do, this didn't work. What can we do? I'll be like, Awesome. I'll take it to the captain of the ship and we'll get this procedure changed and then I'll give the evidence. All right, let's do it. You know? So that's how we rapidly teamed. One of the aspects was embedding. Rapid lines of communication, psychological safety, and then also just being collaborative and not, not thinking that you have all the answers when you jump into a new team.

Jamie: So, and that was, that was super challenging. We got there, but there was a lot of things that we had to work through, you know, stop, rehearse again, fix up. Yeah, that was a, that was a big challenge, but we got there in five days and we're ready to go. 

Mili: What an, what an action? Like I can just imagine myself. On that ship just going into straight panic mode. But yeah, I think all the elements that you mentioned are so, so important and I think we do challenge we come across these challenges when new. Teams are formed and how do you as a lead also come into that place? But yeah, it starts all with the trust and, and making sure that people can communicate with you, among each other, so I really love that. What got my attention is that you knew who your people are, what and what they can. And this makes me think a little bit how important that is in the organization, that you have this skill mapping done properly so that you know who brings what on the table and I remember when I was studying, a lot of research came actually from Army on profiling and you know, like how to match right people and I remember the story of the aviation, like who is in the jet? You know, like everybody has personality to make it work. So this is very fascinating for me, like knowing exactly the talent you have and how to match them to get the best performance. Is that something that you can share there? How you go about it when you form a team?

Mili: Because they might not be all high performers, but actually they know how to work together. So a little bit on that topic that I might that might be something that you also worked on. 

Jamie: Yeah, that's a great question. When when we form a team, I'll, I'll review what we call like the Manning document.

Jamie: So who we are putting, like, who we putting on the team. And I'll go Alright. This specialty, who are the, who are the people we're bringing? Who's the supervisor? And then what's the makeup of their team? And you gotta know your people to see whether everyone's complimenting. So you bring some stronger people, you bring some weaker people that need to learn, cuz they're gonna be the stronger people next year.

Jamie: And so you look at every opportunity as a development opportunity, not only as an execution, Requirement. And so you structure the teams. So I'll give you an example. We did a mission to the Solomon Islands. In 2019 and we had to, we were flying from the north of Australia all the way up across Papa New Guinea and down the Solomon Islands to the island of Bottle Canal, where it was a big, big battles in World War II. You could look that up. It's really interesting. But we flew all the way there from Australia, which was five days of flying, and it's the longest helicopter deployment that we've done up until that point. So that was the longest one. But, but what I did was I brought, I think it was about four brand new pilots on that mission.

Jamie: They'd only just been qualified and, and, and they were on the mission. So I'm like, well, you know, we've got, we got the structure, we've got the, the more senior people, but we're gonna bring the brand new guys and girls, we girls and guy pilots. Because they're gonna learn so much outta this mission.

Jamie: It's gonna be a big game changer for how they're developing. Their gonna, their development's gonna ramp up cuz they're gonna do something that's really challenging, something that no one's done before, but, but they will be the ones doing it and they're gonna learn a lot from this mission. So we stack the team for the learning they can get out of it cuz they're gonna be the leaders of the future. And so understanding your people, looking at a task as a development opportunity, not just as a task that you need to execute and play it safe. And that's, that's what I tried to do with every task. Even when we supported floods, bushfires, you know, that, that mission in Salomon Islands where we're supporting the elections for that country stacked the team for the developmental opportunity and get out of it

Mili: I love that. That's really, really great mindset because I think what we usually do is think, okay, who are the best people who can bring this project where we want? And, out of this fear, I think this perspective of development or more junior ones actually is missing. And, you know, mentioned boys and girls, that's that's an aspect that I was also thinking about. How does the, the diversity topic in general is, is tackled nowadays in Army because I think it changed quite a lot over the past decades. And also when it comes to leadership. Do you see certain influence there? And how do you make sure that actually the, the, the space is welcoming? Whoever wants to become a leader regardless of, you know, how we saw that this leader role models from the past?

Jamie: Yeah. Great. In aviation, we've had women in our trade for forever basic, or for a long time, but more than some of the other trades in the Army. So it's not new for us. We've had women pilots, women technicians, women crew that's been normal. But for some of the other trades like infantry and tanks and armor, they haven't had women up until a couple of years ago, so they're still you know, learning to integrate them, you know, just to be, to be combined teams and not, not have any sort of stigmas or attitudes. And so I think generally it's going pretty well. You always have you know, idiots in any, any organization who, who can't get on board and they have to be dealt with, but in general, I think it's going pretty well in our military. And what's interesting is you know, we've got our Deputy Chief Army this year is, A woman. And also for next year, our most senior combat commander, the commander of our Forces Command is, is a woman as well. So we've got two senior major generals in key positions, which is really good. And it's, and it's new for the Army. It's the first time for both of those, both of those positions. And that's great. So now all of the women in the Army have role models to look up to who are excellent leaders and excellent officers. And that's great. And I think it's gonna be really positive. 

Milica: Wonderful, wonderful. Ilove those stories because yeah, I think even in the traditional organizations, this role modeling and actually, you know, seeing on top representation, Yeah, it's, it's extremely important for developing the talent and what you said, attracting as well future talent. So yeah. Good, good, good job around that.

Lavinia: I, I would have another question because I can think that if in the corporate world we've been talking so much about mental health and working under pressure, for example, I can't even imagine how does that play out in the Army. And I, I, I was just listening to your story about bringing in new people to, to that mission flying for, for so many, for, for so many days with people that were, were new to that, right? And I can think again, of the mental toll that that can, can take on you and I’m curious, how do you handle the mental pressures on of being on, on the job? 

Jamie: Yeah, great question. The biggest, the biggest mental pressure. Or the impacts are particularly where things go wrong, and particularly when you're deployed overseas. And that's where we really, really need to look after our people. You know, we've, we've been over the last 20 years, you know, we've been in Iraq, Afghanistan all types of missions where we've lost people, lost friends, people have been injured. And so, and there's been horrific accidents as well over overseas and sometimes even domestically where things go wrong.

Jamie: And so those events are the real triggers for mental health decline. And, you know, up and we, we, we didn't manage it well probably until you know, 10 years ago where we really invested heavily in the organization and how we were open about it, we had a lot more resources. We would look after people more. And, and it's, it's in a pretty good state, but it comes down to, you know, Your mates, as we say in Australia, your friends who are check looking after you and, and it also comes down to leadership. You have to know your people, so you have to know, you have to be able to judge when they're off. So is, is there something wrong?

Jamie: You know what's going on in your life because life pressures combined with our past, that experience, and then work pressure on top then can just make you go downhill. And so you need to understand your people as a leader so that you can look after them because that's the most important thing. And your mates, having your mates beside you and understand that it's not, it's not bad to speak up.

Jamie: It's not bad to get help. Everyone needs help at times and it's normal and so normalizing. That is the biggest thing that, that is has been an advantage in the, in the army in particular over the last 10 years. 

Lavinia: Yeah. I think, to be honest, everywhere, like opening up the conversation and, yeah, just like you said, normalizing the, the conversation and that. We might all go through it in, in one way or another. And yeah, as, as a leader, I do remember, again, in a corporate world where we're talking about, I, I would say at this point, low stakes. Yeah, just being open to chatting with people, not only about the work we're doing but also about how, how they are as people and in their personal lives. Yeah. I felt that that was also very important. 

Lavinia: Like Jamie, I think we, we could talk to you for, for days at this point, and this has been so, so nice learning about how you like your experience and then how things are going on right now and how you see, how you see the future of, of leadership development and the learning experience design in, in your team and in your organization. That's been wonderful. Any final thoughts of, of wisdom for our listeners about, again, leadership, learning, design, any lessons learned? You, you would like to share? 

Jamie: One interesting thing to leave your listeners with is, you know, what's the future and we, we are gonna be partnering what, not just with people in the future. We're gonna be partnering with artificial intelligence, with other systems. And so how do you actually build leaders who can have the people skills, but then also the interactive data and conceptual skills to operate disaggregated, you know, nodal systems with other entities that don't have a personality until they do, which is, will be a bit further down the track.

Jamie: But that's a really important aspect of how we are gonna learn. Cause we all interact with artificial intelligence on a daily basis. Every time we type something into Google or use Siri or yeah, anything. And so how are we learning to integrate other systems into our practices so that it's not just about the people skills, which are important, but it's about how do you augment a human team into the future, and then how do you create the learning around that? So that'll be really interesting to unpack and, and work on. 

Lavinia: Amazing. That, that's, that's a really nice thought. Thank you so, so much for.

Milica: Thank you, Jamie with us. This, this was wonderful. 

Jamie: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you very much.

Lavinia: Thank you so much for listening to today’s podcast which was all about the journey of becoming a leader, the skills & behaviors of the new generation of leaders, and the efforts of creating a program that supports the adoption of those skills & behaviors in the Australian Army. 

Milica: Hope you learned as much as we did and that you took this as a gentle nudge to reflect on which of Jamie’s practices you can adopt in your work as a Learning & Development professional. All our lessons learned are captured in the Episode PodSheet you’ll find in the description of the episode.

Lavinia: If you’re looking for more resources go ahead and subscribe to our newsletter or join us in the Offbeat Fellowship, where we facilitate social & practical learning among others to help you grow in your career. Create a happy day and never stop learning.

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