The 2022 Cove Challenge 'My Most Important Leadership Lesson' is now complete and we've been really happy with not only the quantity of responses from across Army but also the quality of them.
Many thanks to everyone who responded. We received submissions from corporals to major generals, and even a few non-Army personnel. Due to the volume of submission received, we could not promote every response on our social media platforms. However, all responses can be found in rank groups via the links below:
- Senior Leaders
- Senior Officers
- Junior Officers
- Warrant Officers
- Non-Commissioned Officers
- Non-Army Personnel
The Cove, 1st Recruit Training Battalion (1 RTB), and Centre for Australian Army Leadership (CAAL) extend a huge thank you to the 138 contributors to this challenge across Army and Defence. Thank you all for being courageous and publicly sharing your personal stories and most important leadership lessons. Below is a summary of the submissions by rank.
CAAL Reflections on Cove Challenge 2022
CAAL has taken great interest in your responses; they have some reflections to share on key themes that have been illuminated in this challenge.
Empathy is important. The first theme that came out resoundingly from many of the posts is that empathy is an important characteristic of a good leader because it can magnify a positive and inspiring experience of those who interact with that leader. So what is empathy and why is it so important? According to Daniel Goleman (2017), there are three important aspects of empathy. The first is cognitive empathy which is the ability to understand another person’s perspective. The second is emotional empathy which is the ability to fell what someone else feels; and the final aspect is empathetic concern which is the ability to sense what another person needs from you. Empathy is all about the quality of the relationships you choose to build up with those around you, including your subordinates, peers, and superiors. Research suggests that as people rise through the ranks, their ability to maintain positive personal connections suffers. A good leader may constantly find themselves balancing the internal tension of empathetic concern. What this means is that a good leader will take time to get to know themselves and take steps to understand their own blind spots, weaknesses and limits well enough to manage their own personal distress, without becoming numb to the pain of others. Being an empathetic leader takes a significant amount of moral and ethical courage and it requires active listening to others. Empathy is important because it builds trust in relationships with others which unlocks a leader’s ability to bring out the best in others. Authentic, empathetic leaders genuinely know and care for their people and can effectively employ mission command to empower people to reach their full potential.
Transforming failures into leadership opportunities. Even good leaders don’t always get things right. What someone chooses to do when they have failed can often have a greater impact on their leadership than the failure itself. Everyone experiences difficulties and hardships during their leadership journey. The ability to learn and grow from mistakes as a leader was a strong theme that emerged from the leadership lessons posts. Most people have a fear of failure. There is always an opportunity to reflect and learn something new from failure if you are willing to be vulnerable and put yourself outside your own comfort zone. As you continue on your own leadership journey, take courage that most great leaders failed many times on their journey. In the midst of failure and difficulty is when a person has a choice and an opportunity to learn something about themselves and reflect on how the experience can help make them grow to be a better leader in the future.
Views on leadership are continually evolving. The emphasis on the importance of emotional intelligence as a leader may be part of an important cultural shift in how we view leadership across the Army. Leadership is something that is rank neutral and each one of us is already empowered to own our own leadership journey and learn something new every day from others.
Cove Coin Recipients
These were all very personal reflections and lessons so it's impossible to choose winners. There were a few responses that really resonated with us at The Cove team and the command team at 1 RTB. The top five responses from both Officers and Other Ranks who will each receive a limited edition 2022 Cove Coin can be found below.
Congratulations to the Cove Coin recipients as well as everyone who submitted a response. Thank you again for being part of Cove Challenge 2022.