Postgraduates Leadership Workshop

Faculty of Military Science Postgraduate Leadership Workshop

The Dean Faculty of Military Science, Prof Edna van Harte, initiated a pioneering Postgraduate Leadership Workshop when Postgraduate students in the Faculty got together at Goudini Spa over the period 28-29 August 2011.  The participants who attended the workshop represented the various Schools in the Faculty namely: 1) School for Defence and Organisational Resource Management, 2) School for Security & Africa Studies, 3) School for Geo-Spatial & Information Systems, 4) School for Science & Technology, and 5) School for Human Resource Development.  The postgraduate group was diverse in terms of ethnic background, Arms of Services and gender (12 women and 13 men).

The objective of the workshop was to engage the postgraduates as young intellectuals in order for them to develop their own model on appropriate military leadership relevant to the African continent.  With this strategic initiative of cultivating insight and foresight in junior officers the Dean anticipated creating officers that will influence change, retention of skilled personnel and proper officership in the Department of Defence and South African National Defence Force (SANDF). The workshop had four distinct focus areas namely:

1.         Students had to profile prominent leaders like Che Guevara, Muammar Gaddafi, Angela Merkel, Fidel Castro, and Barack Obama in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their exemplary and non-exemplary actions for which they became known;

2.         The observed differences between male and female leaders;

3.         The differences, if any, between African leaders and those in the Western/Eastern countries.  The question focused on whether African leaders have a unique style of leading as compared to leaders on other continents; and

4. They had to act as advisors to the new Chief of the South African National Defence Force (CSANDF).  The question focussed on the advice they would give to the CSANDF that would assist him to become an effective military leader in the 21st century.

Under the leadership of Prof van Harte, academic inputs into the workshop were provided by Prof Sipho Seepe (Special Advisor to the Minister of Defence) and Mr Omar Valley (consultant to various local governments).  Prof Seepe’s presentation focussed on leadership while Mr Valley’s focal point was integrity management.

As part of the initiative a teambuilding activity was scheduled in the form of a “potjiekos” competition.  The Schools competed against one another.  Following an intense judgement by Ms Gloudine Pienaar (resident of Rawsonville), Ms Hedvig Fransman (Faculty), and the hospitality staff of Goudini Spa a winner was identified.  The School for Security and Africa Studies was announced the winner, runners up were the School for Defence and Organisational Resource Management (second), and the School for Geo-Spatial and Information Studies in third place.

The postgraduates expressed their appreciation of the workshop and indicated that it is an initiative that should take place within the Faculty on a regular basis.  This afforded them the opportunity the engage one another and share their scholarly views.  Prof van Harte considered the initiative a success and expressed her hope that it will become institutionalised in the Faculty.  She emphasized that she values the creative thinking of the youth.

Lt D.J. Kalamdien

Acting Faculty Project Manager

August 2011