Presentation by Dr A. Ryan from the Australian Civil-Military Centre at the 10th International Lessons Learned Conference (10ILLC) dated 16 May 17

Leadership in crisis and complex operations Complex operations require a multiagency, and generally a multinational, response. Past models of leadership education, training and preparation focused on developing high levels of skill in particular specialties. While special subject matter expertise is still required, future leaders will need both ‘depth’ of expertise and ‘width’ of understanding to enable them to make sense of the challenges facing them, much less to be effective coordinators. Accordingly our career models for those who will find themselves in leadership positions need to radically change. We also need to reassess the nature of leadership as a function exercised by staff, both on operations and in planning and coordination roles. ‘Leadership’ does not just mean senior leadership, it is also exercised by those who are required to exercise peer and servant leadership to make critical decisions in an operation. Leaders are made, not born and the challenge of crisis leadership requires that they are able to take charge from the outset. This imperative requires organisations to invest far more time and resources in ensuring that leaders have the professional training and skills required before they are given positions of trust. The day of the ‘gifted amateur’ is over. It is too late to start developing your leadership practice and skills when lives are in the balance.