1. Leadership has always been the core value for founding an effective military organisation. Leadership can be defined as ‘a process of engaging others in concerted efforts to pursue a goal, in conditions of complexity and uncertainty or in anticipation of such conditions.’ Leadership in the military also has been the pioneer for leadership in other non-military organisations, with military organisation considered as a proactive learning organisation that requires an explicit foundation of leadership. According to Kolditz, he defined military leadership character as ‘situations that shape the military, followers are indoctrinated into the chain of command and control, and there are no substitutes for leadership.’ To further excerpt on the military leadership scene, examples from Sir William Wallace, one of Scotland’s historical leaders, transpired his ability as a leader during the Scottish resistance against the English monarchy.

2. To begin with, General John J. Pershing as the commander of the American Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in the First World War noted about the value of leadership:

“A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops; while, on the contrary, an incapable leader can demoralise the best of troops.”

This essay will contend Sir William Wallace impact as a transformational military leader during his command and contributions. The leadership models represent the leader-follower influence process which stated that if a leader deemed influential when they are ‘Reflecting’ positive examples to their subordinate. ‘Relating’ is when the leaders are having mutual respect and appreciating their team members. ‘Reinforcing’ can be defined as the leaders become exemplary of local identities and becoming influential.

Sir William Wallace as a transformational leader

3. The geopolitics in Scotland was changing with the emergence of the England rulers expanding its empire thus opressing the populations through military power. The conflict fought in the Scotland was hard to manage as it required a positive reciprocal relationship between civilian and resistance leaders, namely William Wallace. A positive reciprocal relationship in the perspective that everyone should understand team effort is imperative to ensure victory. Transformational leadership according to Avolio as ‘as the process whereby leaders develop followers into leaders. Transformational leaders stimulate change, as opposed to suppressing it when it arises.’ British military writer Basil H. Liddell Hart also noted about changes resistance:

“that the only thing harder than getting a new idea into a military mind is to get an old one out.”

4. In the period of the Scottish resistance, changes in war fighting concepts and military culture was a monumental task to achieved by Sir William Wallace. During his time as a resistance leader, warfare were still very conservative in nature. Evolution and adaptation can still happen with the influence of operational environments and in overcoming setbacks, but the capacity to absorb any radical concepts changes was still hard to digest. The resistance to accept changes was a common obstacle in any organisational structure as it challenges the comfort zone where the organisation has always been. In this case, Sir William Wallace army was just a group of peasents fighting against a well structured military force led by King Edward. Furthermore, organisations and individuals feared to defy the unknown results when adapting to challenges.

5. This critical thinking process is imperative for leaders to develop new ideas and concept in order to exploit its potentials. If we examine the transformational process, it required changes to transform people. Transformational leaders should be able to introduce his or her ideas that can be accepted by the followers for the benefit to change to a better standard. Sir William Wallace motivated his men to achieve what was seem impossible in achieveing Scotland independence. Transformational leaders always evaluate the situation and stimulate followers finding new solutions in achieving their goals.

Individual impact on Sir William Wallace leadership

6. Sir William Wallace leadership character was strongly depicted in his actions towards defending Scotland sovereignty. As a leader to the resistance, he was instilling the motion that all his countryman was fighting as a free man, without freedom Scotland is nothing. Scotland is their true identity and British rulers are denouncing their rights. This strong bond transpired by Sir William Wallace was aligned with the social identity theory as mentioned by Yorno, Postmes and Haslam:

‘Individuals feel a meaningful attachment to a group their thought process and actions attune to their social identity.’

Sir William needed to break the deadlock for his people to accept his ideology which contradicts with the British ideology stating Scotland is not a free country. It was a monumental task to create a change in strategic leadership directions. According to the ‘3R’ social identity approach, this action required Sir William Wallace applying the ‘Reflecting’, ‘Relating’ and ‘Reinforcing’ leadership credentials. By analysing Sir William Wallace’s leadership in relation this model, it is possible to identify, his strength was through his strong personal character was among his defining factors as a great leader. Before he was in the out group, demonstrating challenge that Sir William Wallace faced was he was in the out group and trying to breach into the in group domain which required substantial individual change impact. The most efficient way of connecting with the in group was through applying effective communications in a reciprocal relationship. Fortunately, through his charisma, voice and perseverence he managed to achieve was deem to be impossible.

7. Effective leadership in the Scottish resistance was a vital element in ensuring victory in battles. The battles required military leaders to portray positive individual exemplary values in leadership. Among examples of positive exemplary values was effective communication, setting reasonable objectives and maintaining supportive behaviour. All these values are necessary to create impact for followers to achieve the goal set by their leaders. General Omar Bradley once quoted about how leaders positive values are vital to success.

“Leadership in a democratic army means firmness, not harshness; understanding, not weakness; generosity, not selfishness; pride, not egotism.”

8. Emotional intelligence is also an important element for any leaders. If we examine the conduct of Sir Wiliam Wallace in maintaining effective leadership through emotional intelligence, especially during his leadership tenure, it illustrates his eficiency in this aspect. Emotional intelligence can be defined: ‘the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. The emotional intelligence element in relation to leadership required to include three skills set: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.’ Evidence leading to his of emotional intelligence relates during his death sentence, although in the verge of death, Sir William Wallace remains true to his ambition and beliefs that Scotland is a free country and although he dies, the fight must go on.

Organisation impact for Sir William Wallace leadership

9. Organisation influence in shaping leaders performance in achieving their objectives. From the perspective of Social Identity: ‘organisational identification is achieved through the use of mission statements (e.g., what make ‘us’ distinctive and special compared to others), reinforcing the significance of purpose and importance of work tasks, and alignment of work goals.’ The organisation impact on leadership can influence how leaders behave in maintaining their reciprocal relationship with their superiors and subordinates. In line with the Social Identity elaboration:

‘A central tenet of the social identity approach is that people’s behaviour is guided by the membership of particular personal and social categories only to the extent that they have internalised them as part of their self-concept (Turner, 1982). Psychologically, then, groups are defined not by the demographic features of their members, but by the extent to which any such property forms a basis for shared self-definition (a sense of ‘we-ness’). This means that, psychologically, a group only exists if it provides its members with a sense of shared social identity.’

We can relate this unification problem with Homans elaboration on Social Identity by Haslam in Psychology in Organisation:

‘The leader must live up to the norms of the group – all the norms – better than any follower. At the same time, he is the member of the group who is most in danger of

violating the norms. In disputes between two followers, he is expected to do justice, as the group understands justice, but what man can always be just?”

Leaders must find the common pattern for both group and the values that can connect them to accept the same shared values. Once the shared values are set among the followers, leaders must treat fairly and unbiased.


10. The aspects of individual and organisation impact in affecting the leadership were clearly demonstrated in the case study of Sir William Wallace during his the Scottish resistance. The correlation of Social Identity theory to examined how Sir William Wallace respond and manage their reciprocal relationship with superior and subordinate. The utilisation of Social Identity ‘3R’ framework was an important method to see how both leaders fit in the context of Social Identity. Sir Wiliam Wallace was a transformational leader with the vision to exploit and achieve the intended goals in freeing Scotland from the claws of the British Empire.

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