While the United States Military Academy's (USMA) mission is to develop cadets who will be leaders throughout a career of 20-30 years in the military, between 8-10% of graduates depart the military annually within their first five years. At this rate, close to 40-50% of all graduates have departed the military within 10 years of graduation.
This study sought to determine the leadership styles which may best align with each individual branch of the U.S. Army. Helping each graduating cadet to identify his/her preferred leadership style, the USMA might make appropriate branch suggestions to each cadet, therefore increasing overall military career satisfaction, and resulting in fewer USMA graduates departing the military prior to fulfilling a career in the Army.
The individual graduate leadership style was determined utilizing Blake and Mouton's Leadership Grid. In the online survey, participants provided basic demographic information, then rank-ordered seven statements in each of six elements, according to which statement best described their own individual reaction to the leadership situation described.
Data that was captured from West Point graduating classes of 1992, 1995 and 2000, with usable data collected from 344 respondents, or 11.69% of the responding classes. Team style (9,9), held over 70% of respondents and the second most prevalent style in every subgroup was Impoverished (1,1) with between 11-14% in each subgroup. Eighty-six percent, 57%, and 86% of those retained within Combat Arms, Combat Support and Combat Service Support, respectively, were Team style (9,9). The Impoverished style (1,1) had the next highest retention rate. With 82.86%, 50%, and 100% of all early promotions within Combat Arms, Combat Support and Combat Service Support, respectively, the Team style (9,9) represented the largest number of early promotions in all three subgroups. Impoverished style (1,1) respondents received the next largest percentage of early promotions. The findings of this study indicate that there is benefit in guiding graduates of the United States Military Academy with particular leadership styles into specific branches of the U.S. Army.