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Breaking the Bathsheba Syndrome: Building a Performance Evaluation System that Promotes Mission Command

Authored by Colonel Curtis D. Taylor.


Brief Synopsis

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In 2014, the National Defense Authorization Act directed the Department of Defense to reconsider the way the Army evaluates and selects leaders. This call for reform came after repeated surveys from the Center for Army Leadership suggested widespread dissatisfaction with the current approach. The Army today is seeking to inculcate a philosophy of mission command across the force based on a culture of mutual trust, clear intent, and decentralized initiative. It is therefore, reasonable to ask if our current performance evaluation system contributes or detracts from such a culture. This paper seeks to answer this question by considering the essential leader attributes required for the exercise of mission command and then considering practical methods for evaluating this behavior. It then reviews the history of the existing Army performance evaluation system and analyzes how well this existing system conforms to the attributes of mission command. Finally, the paper examines other methods of performance evaluation outside of the Army to determine if those methods could provide a better model. This examination includes a variety of best practice models in private business and the public sector and identified alternative approaches to performance evaluation.

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