Stripes, Pips and Crowns: A Preliminary Study of Leader-Follower Relations in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, 1914-1918
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AbstractRelying heavily on the personal documents created by Canadian soldiers both contemporary to and following the First World War – letters, memoirs, diaries and interview transcripts – Stripes, Pips and Crowns addresses a noticeable gap in Canadian historiography by examining the manner in which leaders and followers interacted with one another in a variety of settings and the probable results thereof. Leadership at the lower levels of command in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), involving men holding the rank of lieutenant-colonel and below, was a multifaceted and complex phenomenon. So much more than the simple transactional exchange of ordering and obeying, it encompassed, in addition to other social dynamics not addressed here: i) paternalism (the care and attention that a superior gave his subordinates); ii) power (understood, in all its many forms, to be “the capacity of some persons to produce intended and foreseen effects on others”); and iii) the negotiated order (an unwritten exchange whereby disciplinary concessions were “traded” for later performance). Such dynamics significantly influenced the nature of the relationships that prevailed between men of dissimilar (and occasionally similar) rank. Perhaps nowhere than in the very close association that existed between an officer and his personal servant (batman) were these three phenomena more obviously manifested. By uncovering some of the mechanisms through which leaders interacted with their followers, and vice-versa, it becomes readily apparent that soldiers of inferior rank had a degree of agency with which they could influence their immediate surroundings and the individuals set over them; that leaders who were somewhat “less military” with their followers than what was expected of them could actually forge exceedingly strong teams in comparison to their confreres who were devoutly “regimental” in their comportment; that evinced styles of leadership were context-dependent; and that, concerning leadership specifically, the army was not so uniform and monolithic as is commonly assumed. While not a totally comprehensive discussion of lower-level leadership, Stripes, Pips and Crowns ultimately suggests that the success and effectiveness of the Canadian Corps in battle was partially due to the nature and strength of the relationships that existed between leaders and followers throughout the chain of command.
CitationMantle, C. L. (2013). Stripes, Pips and Crowns: A Preliminary Study of Leader-Follower Relations in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, 1914-1918 (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/27896
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