[Note: This was in the comments as a reply to Tom's blog entry of 11 January, and Tom asked Chris to make it into a front page post.—CM]
Continuing with the military/civilian leadership as service thought ...
"Serve to Lead" is the first lecture at Sandhurst [Royal Military Academy]. It comes as something of a shock to most officer cadets who are expecting to be put into a position of authority. They will be, but it's not quite the deal most expect. The right to lead in a military or civilian environment has to be earned. Officers and Business leaders have the same role. To ensure each member of the value creating community are the best they can be. That's a service.
Soldiers make a covenant with the country they serve. In exchange for their preparedness to sacrifice their lives to safeguard the nation's best interests, soldiers (and their families) are honoured and cared for. Primarily by their Officers and secondly by the nation in providing materially for them.
1. I believe that whilst the sacrifice employees make is not potentially as high as that of soldiers, they are giving a huge chunk of their lives to a business and giving up many other avenues of opportunity. Therefore they deserve no less leadership than our Military Officers provide for our soldiers.
More at http://www.army.mod.uk/
2. There is a huge amount of disquiet in the UK amongst soldiers and their families about standards of service accommodation at the moment. Service accommodation has always been at best "average." The reason it's an issue now is that our soldiers are being regularly killed and the duty of care feels like it is being neglected. Result—anger.
Only egotists see leadership as a hierarchical/command thing and they neglect their duty of care at their (organisation's) peril. ("Fragging" of civilian business managers is thankfully rare.)
Providing hope, direction, resources, training, a role model, and encouragement is, I believe, what all leadership, military and civilian, is about.