Major George Kostis, Hellenic Land Forces, participated at the ERGOMAS (European Group on Military and Society) conference in Athens in June 2017 with the topic on military leadership.
In your presentation you have mentioned that there was a lack of great leaders. In your opinion, what are the main reasons for that? Is the problem in education, military leadership programs or maybe within people themselves?
My personal opinion is that nowadays there are certainly quite many people that would become great leaders. That means that they have the potential to become such. In addition, there are many military leadership programs that can help these people excel and guide them towards great leadership. But in the end, great leaders just rise through the circumstances.
Is there a difference between leaders in small countries and large ones? Also, how much effect did the previous conflicts have on building leaders from country to country, for example Switzerland vs. USA?
Of course, there are differences between small countries and large powerful countries leaders. As a matter of fact, leadership takes a very different shape depending on the country in which the leader has been developed. Leadership is all about power. Power is all about people, greatly depending on the specific space and time.
Going back to the basics, what are in your opinion the most important traits of leaders? Can those be learned, or are leaders born or is it maybe combination of both?
As of question #2 above, apparently great leaders are both born and developed.
As of my point of view, the most important traits that great leaders are comprised of are greatly depending on the specific group of people that he will lead. Different leadership approaches should be applied and the social environment should be a decision factor. For example the leader of a military group of the US Army should not use the same leadership approach with that of the Zulu tribe leader.
In modern warfare the leadership has come down to smallest units. Not only the generals are important anymore, but now leadership starts in fireteams (fireteam leader, squad leader etc.). How did this change the military education in general and what is your vision of military leadership in the future?
This is true and implies that important changes must be implemented in the military education. But the best military education is practice in real environment. Suggesting that small fireteams and similar level Army teams should be more practically trained, thus join the Allied forces whenever and wherever they are conducting military operations.
Greece has a history of a lot of great military leaders. How it is with the military leadership heritage in your country and how is it connected with ancient times of great Hellenic wars, especially in Sparta?
Hellenic military heritage plays a significant role in forming the great leaders in our country. Most of which take greatly in account the “heavy” factor of the military heritage/responsibility. Most of us would definitely want to have the opportunity to prove ourselves. Again, the ancient leadership throughout the wars in our History are very different space-wise and time-wise comparing to the modern world. Most of the ancient leaders decision-making process was based on the Thucydides triptych Honor-Fear-Interest (Fear consisted of the probability that the potential enemy would become better than them. In the process of dealing with that probability, the ancient Greeks became fearless of any enemy).