Leadership development of junior Army leaders: a Dutch perspective


  • Major Peter de Bock
  • Peter Olsthoorn


This paper discusses leadership development within the institutional and operational context of the Dutch Army, with the idea that there are lessons here that are also relevant for other armies. Building  on the assumption that leadership can be developed, the first section after the introduction discusses the pros and cons of the leadership schools that are most relevant to the military. The  three subsequent sections delve deeper into the related topics of ethical, transformational, and unobtrusive leadership. These sections question the alleged benefits of transformational leadership for the military, argue that a value based approach might be better than virtue ethics as regards to ethics education for junior leaders, and finally criticize the emphasis on strong leadership in leadership theory and most military doctrines. All sections of this article contain guidelines for leadership development, which are briefly summarized in the conclusion.

Author Biographies

Major Peter de Bock

Peter de Bock is an Army officer in the Netherlands Armed Forces. Currently he works at the Royal Netherlands Army staff, Directorate Training & Operations.

Peter Olsthoorn

Peter Olsthoorn is Associate Professor Military Leadership and Ethics at the Netherlands Defence Academy.