Organizational Behavior Essay
American businessman Bill Drayton states, “Every successful organization has to make the transition from a world defined primarily by repetition to one primarily defined by change....” (Bill Drayton Quotes, n.d.). As organizational behavior studies the actions of individuals within an organization, many components are relative when attempting to understand the dynamics of organizations in today’s society. For this paper we will take a look at the organizational behavior of the United States Army, and what factors contribute to the culture of this fighting force. Revered as being less than two percent of the American population and one that has been in present-day conflict for nearly seventeen years, the success of this organization relies heavily on individuals. To continue to serve a grateful nation, the actions of each must meet a standard that is above reproach. The components that shape the organizational behavior of this institution are personality, stress, motivation, team building, and leadership. As Soldiers are grounded in standards that are engrained in morals and ethics, the values of the organization are merely the culture. It takes the components above to resonate these values throughout the ranks.
As a United States Army Warrant Officer, I have had the humble privilege to see the United States Army at multiple echelons. This wide aperture has allowed me to conceptualize what the culture is that breeds the organizational behavior of this time-honored institution and allows for continued success. In the initial phases of an individual’s decision to join the military, personality plays an integral role. Personality is the trait that “encompasses the overall combination of characteristics that capture the unique nature of a person as that person reacts and interacts with others” (textbook quote, section 2.2). It takes a person whose personality falls within the five major personality dimensions of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience; to make the tough choice to defend a nation.
From the trip to the recruiter’s office, through basic training, and throughout an individual’s entire service commitment, personality is important. Being a Soldier, you must interact with fellow troops and your personality will determine if you fit in or not. Personality is also paramount when it comes to interactions with the civilian populace as well as foreign nations. The managing of personalities is the significant tasks and if successful, creates a dynamic that insurmountable. The giving personality of a Soldier is sadly marginalized by the stress that correlates to being a service member.
Stress is another component that impacts any organization but immensely impacts military servicemembers across branches. From initial entry training, Soldiers are exposed to a variety of stressors designed to replicate battlefield conditions. The stressors of combat, although will prepare you for the complex environments you will operate in, they do nothing for the impact that stress takes on lives individually. As stress disrupts relationships, the bearing it places on families is crucial when Soldiers typically relocate every 24-36 months.
Stress, loss, and fear can be very common among children moving: Anticipation of the new home creates stress; grievance of losses related to school, friends, and community may occur; and the fear of the unknown can create emotional havoc for a child in this situation. (Desrosiers, 2014, p.7)
The component of stress compromises the organizational behavior of today's military due to the associated stigma of seeking help being a weakness. The military culture is saturated with an unwritten rulebook that influences what is considered to be expected behavior and what is defined as being mentally tough. Most Soldiers who reach the point of excessive stress, never reach out for help out of fear of career repercussions. Not receiving assistance, in turn, jeopardizes, emotional well-being and job performance, which correlates to organizational counterproductivity. With stressors interfering with performance, components such as motivation begin to waiver.
Motivation is the main ingredient to organizational behavior in the military. The United States Army states within their doctrine, “motivation supplies the will and initiative to do what is necessary to accomplish a mission. Motivation comes from within, but others’ actions and words affect it” (Department of the Army, 2012, p.1-2). The United States Army has three distinct behavioral requirements when it comes to motivation. First is one that relates back to the first component, personality. A person must not only be intrigued by joining this organization, but also find the factor that makes them remain. Secondly, Soldiers must dependably perform their specialty. Lastly, they must go above and beyond and find unorthodox ways to be combat multipliers. In simplistic terms, this institution must motivate the decision to participate, while at the same the decision to perform and produce at work.
Leaders drive motivation within the United States Army on a daily basis, not only in garrison settings but more importantly in the most austere environments. From the implementation of organized regular physical fitness training to section competitions that award the best team with recognition, motivation is what develops and reinforces the concept of being a team. Esprit de corps events as such are the small thing that builds support for one another, motivation to continue, and more importantly, teams.
From effective squad size elements of eight to fifteen soldiers to corps level commands ranging upwards of fifty thousand troops, team building is necessarily the foundation of how our nation’s wars have been won. When you think about the success of an organization, it is usually contributed to a group of individuals versus a single person. Former Army General, Stanley McChrystal stated the following when discussing teams,
In the same way, as you try to build trust inside a team, you try to make trust transferrable. Let’s say you’re a Navy SEAL and I’m in the Army’s Delta Force. I may not know you personally, but I know some SEALS, and I know how they operate. I know your expectation of me, and you know my expectation of you. We have this understanding that I trust in the values of your organization, and the track record of your organization. (McGinn, 2015).
What General McChrystal alludes to is the fact that an organization is built on the predetermined notion that success is only evident when members become teams. In the case of the military, the culture of a professional team is one that matters. In a hostile nation where your life is in the hands of someone else, you rely on your teammate to be the best as they expect the same in the inverse. The conditions of team building are all set by the culture of an institution and its leadership.
Leadership in the United States Army can be of positive and negative affect. While leaders focus efforts on motivating teams, ‘the impact of leaders on followers' effect has focused almost exclusively on followers' satisfaction with the leader and with their job” (Boies &Howell, 2009). Leadership in this type of institution is not one of simplicity. To effectively lead Soldiers, leaders must understand the dynamics and tailor their leadership style to each situation based on it's merit. Two types of leadership styles and how you balance them as an Army leader will improve or destroy your organization.
Transactional leadership reinforces the Army’s structured way of business. This type of leadership speaks to the conformity to existing standards and is similar to the operating procedures of the Army. Transactional leadership focuses on rules, policies, and procedures as well as structured routines and annual performance reviews. Assuming that the motivation of people to perform is through a system of punishment or reward, determined by a defined chain of command, is how this theory works.
In the inverse, there is transformational leadership. “Transformational leadership is a style in which a leader seeks to change and engage followers and the organization by creating a compelling vision, strategy, and culture” (Weiss, 2015, p. 2.8). In this leadership style, leaders set out to build subordinates to change an organization and elevate it to the next level. Transformational leadership stimulates innovation within subordinates, and then as a team, the organization becomes one of higher performance.
To achieve leadership success, these two leadership styles must be well balanced. Transactional leadership allows for a leader to enforce regulatory guidance and impose reward and punishment. Transformational leadership will create an organizational climate that promotes growth and development within the ranks. The most critical component, leadership is what brings them all together.
Organizational Behavior as a course, helped me identify and take steps to solve issues through the understanding of concepts related to leadership and behaviors. Through the components that shape the organizational behavior and culture of the United States Army, I have learned how to implement change as it is relative to each. Being an active leader, I will now address stress as it has the potential to severely impact the personality of individuals, decreasing motivation, and hindering the building of teams. Being able to identify organizational culture effectively will allow me to influence the creation of an environment that provides clear expectation and promotes growth from within.
In conclusion, understanding the separate components that directly influence the behaviors of individuals inside an institution is essential. Personality, stress, motivation, team building, and leadership all play an integral part of what defines this institution’s culture. From the values that are engrained in every Soldier, to the variables known as stressors and motivators, what each brings to an organization will determine its culture. For an organization such as the United States Army that is built on a legacy of systematic approaches, organizational behavior can still influence change and continue to improve the culture that allows for values to resonate throughout the ranks.
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