Teams of Leaders in U.S. European Command: A Soft-power Multiplier

June 7, 2009

As the 21st century unfolds and we face a continually engaged and networked world, U.S. European Command (EUCOM)1 is leveraging a Teams of Leaders (ToL) approach to build strong relationships with long-standing allies and to build new ones with emerging partners. For example, in addition to traditional missions like humanitarian assistance, other challenges also exist—such as the flow of energy, financial turbulence and threat of pandemic disease—that require innovate expertise and experiences to mitigate them before a crisis develops.

Teams of Leaders draws upon the interacting effects of Information Management (IM), Knowledge Management (KM) and leader team-building, which when applied in coordination, generate actionable understanding to resolve challenges facing leader teams within EUCOM.2 To build the synergistic softpower multiplier, these three effects must work in mutual support of one another. This can be envisaged as a stool with three essential legs—all must work together with equal importance to maintain balance.

Furthermore, these teams may be peer or hierarchical, quick-response or enduring, virtual or grouped. They may be joint, interagency, intergovernmental or multinational (JIIM) across the area of responsibility (AOR) of the command. The policy or program issues addressed are unlimited in scope. Without exception, their resolution involves the initiation and sustainment of successful interpersonal, inter- and intra-team relationships. The purpose of this essay is to describe how ToL has been implemented effectively in EUCOM in 2008–09.

The current mission guiding development of ToL in EUCOM is: “EUCOM will further enable and expand a Teams of Leaders (ToL) culture to generate actionable understanding through the shared trust, intensive collaboration and networked expertise among leaders in order to support operations and missions of the command.”

EUCOM headquarters today comprises many separate and interrelated teams of leaders, often nested with one another, that are growing rapidly more joint, interagency, intergovernmental or multinational. While the focus here is the current EUCOM headquarters example (including some lessons learned), the ToL policies/programs and practices discussed appear equally applicable across most existing military or civil, governmental or nongovernmental organizations.