Junior Leader Professional Military Education

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The following is compiled from our 10in10 series. Those interviewed were asked to recommend accessible content from any medium for the professional development of junior leaders. 

It helps to know what is happening when you challenge the accepted. 10in10 is an interview series designed to share insight into future-leaning work across the Australian profession of arms. One interview was released every day for 10 days. You can find previous interviews here.

1. Recommended by Lieutenant Colonel Caroline Kelly: Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling by Edgar H. Schein. 137 pages. “How to listen to others and draw capability out of the team around you”. 

2. Recommended by Colonel Sean Parkes: Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life by James Kerr. 225 pages. “The All Blacks high performance organisational culture is closely linked to national and Maori culture. They focus on character, humility, adaptability, and leader development and have built a proven winning formula. Commander Forces Command Brigadier Chris Field captured this in his excellent review published by The Cove. There are fantastic analogies for Army”.

3. Recommended by Colonel Sean Parkes: Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle. 304 pages. “How to understand team culture”.

4. Recommended by Lieutenant Colonel Robin Smith: North Country (2005 film). Synopsis: single mother Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) is one of the first women to work at a local iron mine in Minnesota. Offended that they have to work with women, male workers at the mine lash out at them and subject them to sexual harassment. Appalled by the constant stream of insults, sexually explicit language and physical abuse, Josey- despite being cautioned against it by family and friends- files a historic sexual harassment lawsuit.

5. Recommended by Regimental Sergeant Major-Army Grant McFarlane: Philosophy Now: A Magazine of IdeasThis is the most widely read English philosophy periodical. It contains articles on all aspects of Western philosophy, as well as book reviews, letters, news, cartoons, and the occasional short story.

6. Recommended by Natalie Sambhi: The Road to Character by David Brooks. 320 pages. Brooks argues we should rebalance the scales between our “résumé virtues”—achieving wealth, fame, and status— and our “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed.

7. Recommended by Natalie Sambhi: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. 303 pages. Written by the only Roman emperor who was also a philosopher, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) offer a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. 

8. Recommended by Lieutenant Colonel Scott Holmes: TED Talks for Military Change in the 21st Century. What technologies will challenge the norms of the 20th Century which we use to construct our understanding of warfare? Lieutenant Colonel Scott Holmes has selected the following TED Talks as a short sample to challenge the way we think about continuity and change in the future. It is broken into three parts that he suggests watching in order. The first three talks discuss technologies that exist now and are becoming increasingly influential in making the physical and digital environments more interdependent. The second section introduces technologies that will increasingly enable the interdependence of the digital-physical environment to extend to the biological. Collectively, sections one and two explore the increasing fusion of digital-physical-biological environments through 21st Century technologies. The final section are three talks on the implications of change for people and organisations. The first is military focussed, the latter two are more general and describe changing interactions of people, technology and social norms. He expects the talks can be digested over a couple of gym sessions. 

Digital-Physical Fusion
Kai-Fu Lee: How AI can save our humanity
Joseph DeSimone: What if 3D printing was 100x faster?
Skylar Tibbits: The emergence of “4D printing”

Digital-Physical-Biological Fusion
Jennifer Doudna: How CRISPR lets us edit our DNADavid R. Liu: Can we cure genetic diseases by rewriting DNA?
Floyd E. Romesberg: The radical possibilities of man-made DNA
Dan Gibson: How to build synthetic DNA and send it across the internet

How can we think about this problem as users of technology and as an organisation that is different to the present?
P.W. Singer: Military robots and the future of war
Margaret Heffernan: The human skills we need in an unpredictable world
Charles Leadbeater: The era of open innovation

9. Recommended by SIG Bryce Kendall-Robertson: DEF CON“Suitable for all knowledge levels and very easy to digest, this YouTube channel talks about the cyber security of day-to-day platforms, including surveillance cameras, mobile phones and home networks, and how these devices are hacked”.

10. Recommended by SIG Jacob Greenberg: LiveOverflow“This YouTube channel provides a more technical discussion of cyber security than DEF CON but is still very accessible”.

12. Recommended by SIG Jacob Greenberg and SIG Bryce Kendall-Robertson: Hack the Box“A heavily gamified, capture-the-flag, war gaming platform to practice cyber offence. You connect via VPN and break into an enterprise network or server”.

13. Recommended by Lieutenant Colonel Jasmin Diab: Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Gene Kranz. 416 pages. “Exploring how NASA learned and evolved during the Mercury and Apollo series, this book is an excellent aide to understanding how to bring diverse teams together to solve complex problems, and how to make split-second decisions that mean life-or-death to someone you are responsible for”.

14. Recommended by Lieutenant Colonel Jasmin Diab: The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. 369 pages. “Telling the story of the first seven astronauts selected for the Mercury program, this book (and film) tells us about the way NASA innovated, made decisions, and used ‘extreme teaming’ during this period”.

15. Recommended by Dr Lyndal Thompson: an Escape Room. “This is a way to push your boundaries and make yourself uncomfortable in order to think creatively. It’s important to pursue diverse intellectual experiences”.

16. Recommended by Dr Lyndal Thompson: Designing Reality: How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution by Neil Gershenfeld. 304 pages. He created the Fabrication Laboratory (FAB LAB) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

17. Recommended by Major Adam Hepworth: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Taleb. 366 pages. “A mathematician and professor at New York University, Taleb’s book focuses on understanding uncertainty and variance in financial markets without being overly technical (indeed, he deliberately writes so that the ‘non-technical reader’ can skip technical chapters)”.

 18. Recommended by Major Adam Hepworth: The Flaw of Averages: Why We Underestimate Risk in the Face of Uncertainty by Sam Savage. 392 pages. “This Stanford professor explores why utilising average information is a poor approach when appreciating the full spectrum of information better highlights the uncertainty in decisions. There is never ‘the outcome’, but ‘outcome’ of many that could occur. This approach can be applied to command; your assessment that the enemy will behave in one way doesn’t mean they will. There is always likelihood and probability to consider. You don’t need to invoke mathematics, but you need to be cognisant that there is a ‘next step’ of analysis”.  

19. Recommended by Colonel James Davis: The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command by Andrew Gordon. 708 pages. “The book spans the Victorian Era and encompasses the transition from sail to steam; flag signalling to wireless telephony; Trafalgar to Jutland and charts the decline of the once-mighty British Navy”.

20. Recommended by Colonel James Davis: Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet. 272 pages. “The USS Santa Fe was the worst performing nuclear submarine in the U.S. fleet and was near being decommissioned due to poor performance. Marquet was appointed Captain and turned the situation around. He resisted Navy’s practice of incredibly centralised command and, rather than giving orders, would only approve or deny his subordinate’s proposals”.

21. Recommended by Deputy Chief of Army Anthony Rawlins: Stoicism and the Profession of Arms (2018 article) by Michael Evans. “We must accept and subjugate ourselves to the stoicism of our profession; this underpins Good Soldiering. We are the foil to the cult of personality and society’s impulse to worship false idols who are completely destructive in the way they pedal their messages in society”.  

22. Recommended by Deputy Chief of Army Anthony Rawlins: Rhetoric and Reasoning: Contributions to the Common Law (2018 article) by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel. “Though in a legal context, Kiefel emphasises the importance of debate bringing opposing points of view together. That process brings about a much more reasoned, future-proofed and better outcome. Debate is an inherently human phenomenon, and instead of dispassionate, academic argument, logic should be carried by appealing to emotion. I think this underpins good leadership”. 

23. Recommended by Jemma King: TEDx Talk: Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. 14-minute video. This video introduces you to the mind-set and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult missions in combat. This is explored further in the #1 New York Timesbestseller Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Baben

24. Recommended by Jemma King: Joe Rogan Experience #1201 – William von Hippel. 3-hour video. William von Hippel is a professor of psychology at the University of Queensland and is Jemma King’s mentor. This video introduces you to the concepts in his book The Social Leap: How and Why Humans Connect where he provides a fascinating view on leadership using the analogy of baboon leadership versus elephant leadership. King thinks every junior leader should understand this concept. 

25. Recommended by Colonel James Kidd: Lord of the Flies by William Golding. “This book is about group dynamics, small teams and groupthink. It asks, ‘how does one individual rise above others?’ and ‘how does the group pull the individual back in?’. It explores rational thinking versus emotions. Lord of the Flies has it all for junior leaders, and even senior leaders”. 

26. Recommended by David Kilcullen: “Firstly, I recommend a Norwegian soap opera called Occupied. It’s about Russia invading Norway and taking it over in a way which no one notices because it employs grey zone tactics. It is a little bit ridiculous, but it was written before the Russian invasion of Crimea and very accurately represented how all this grey zone warfare occurs so it’s quite educational. In terms of reading, I recommend The Coast Watchers by Eric Feldt. 448 pages. It demonstrates how a small Australian force can fight a peer, conventional enemy in the Asia Pacific. It describes the Royal Australian Navy intelligence program set up in the 1930s, before WWII, with groups placed all over the Pacific. It saw a few Australian soldiers embedded with a local team and a HF radio set. Initially, they just watched and reported on Japanese shipping and air movements. Towards the end of the war, when Allied forces moved on to the Philippines and Japan, those teams switched roles and became an irregular warfare asset. They raised and trained groups of Solomon Islanders and Papua New Guineans to target remaining Japanese garrisons. It is a great example of how an innovative group with a small footprint used HF radios (noting that HF radio will be important in an era of space warfare as tactical satellite communications will be vulnerable) and local partners in intelligence, kinetic and training roles. It is written in the dated language of the 1940s, but it is full of goodness. Finally, for news I like the channel The War Zone on car website The Drive.”