Leadership that matures organizations through conflict and crisis management

By: Jihyo Cha (CSPS-Korea)

At the 7th Army Leadership Seminar held at the Korea Army Academy at Yeong-cheon (KAAY), Mr. Seo-hwan Cho, the chairman of the Asia-Pacific Marketing Forum, gave an inspiring lecture titled, “leadership in conflict resolution”. He remarked on qualities of a leader and using leadership as a tool to overcome and manage conflicts based on his personal experiences.

Mr. Cho was a former cadet at KAAY but lost his right hand due to an unexpected grenade explosion during the training at the age of 22. Although the incident completely shattered his life, he never stopped developing himself as a leader. Mr. Cho defined a leader as a motivator who instills confidence and motivates his or her organization even during difficult situations.

According to Mr. Cho, a leader should offer alternatives to his or her followers, be responsible in actions and carve a pathway to established goals. Just as he has done despite of the tragedy, a leader should not think about what is impossible and learn how to view crises as potential opportunities.

The lecture resonated more with the cadets, who will later be commissioned as officers, the leaders of Republic of Korea Army. The cadets are responsible preserving security of the Republic of Korea and thus should always demonstrate leadership and loyalty. By doing so, they can exhibit ideal attributes as a competent military leader who values honor, responsibility and dignity.

The speaker’s story encouraged cadets to cope with future conflicts and crises that could arise during their training and service especially in the most adverse situation: battlefield. Under this circumstance, no one knows what will happen and it will depend solely on the leader’s judgment how to overcome the crisis. The leadership on a battlefield is much more substantial and critical since people’s lives are at stake. Therefore, Mr. Cho advises the cadets not to give up on developing their leadership qualities.

Listening to the lecture side by side with cadets was a time of reflection. Every moment of the lecture gave confident about entrusting country’s national security to the cadets. Furthermore, it was amazing to see their admirable manners and attitudes as the audience. It was truly grateful that was given an opportunity to participate in a great lecture. As an ordinary college student, visiting KAAY in-person was a unique and privileged experience, which was a time to rethink and expand the knowledge on leadership, national security and interlinkages between the two elements.