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8/26/2010
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Army Seeks Input On E-Leadership

Call for white papers published on best practices for using electronic communications to perform duties and lead subordinates.

Technology has had such a major effect on the Army that the military branch is rethinking leadership because of it.

According to an opportunity listed on FedBizOpps.gov, the Army is seeking white papers to come up with best practices for leaders who increasingly are using electronic means to communicate with subordinates.

The Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences is the department requesting the white papers. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 7.

While leading teams virtually is a practice that's been common in the private sector for some time, it's a new thing for the Army. Advancements in technology have decentralized what were once centralized, tightly knit operations, and the service branch must learn to adapt, according to the RFP.

"Under these conditions units will be isolated, command posts will be mobile, the planning process will be collaborative, decision-making will be determined by soldiers on the ground, rehearsals will be virtual, and team membership will continually evolve to fit the needs of the situation," according to the RFP.

Specifically, the white papers the Army seeks will provide guidance for its leaders about how to set up trusted relationships and successfully perform leadership duties via electronic means.

"Leaders who are part of a decentralized force may rarely see their soldiers in person, instead relying on text, e-mail, or other electronic means to communicate intent, build trust, and establish cohesion among their subordinates," according to the RFP.

The Army refers to this type of leadership as "remote command and control, distributed leadership, and virtual e-leadership," and said it represents a major change in communications between soldiers and immediate supervisors.

It also presents challenges the military must address, including "increased ambiguity, a diminished physical and social presence, a greater need for accurate communication, and a stronger need to work collaboratively," according to the RFP.

White papers submitted for the RFP should be no more than five pages and should do the following:

--Describe the frequency and function of "technology-mediated communication" among various ranks of Army leaders and their subordinates.

--Identify knowledge, skills, and abilities that contribute to effective leadership in contexts that call for advanced IT practices.

--Develop a list of best practices associated with e-leadership that draw from the results of determining communication frequency and identifying knowledge, skills, and abilities.

--Develop a set of recommendations for training military leaders who will be required to use electronic means to perform their duties.

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