Mission command: A self-determination theory perspective
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMilitary Psychology. 2023. 10.1080/08995605.2023.2252718
It is well documented that leadership behavior influences employees’ motivation. In particular are autonomy-supportive leadership styles associated with desirable outcomes through basic psychological needs satisfaction and subsequent autonomous motivation. Mission Command, a leadership philosophy endorsed by the armed forces of many nations, can be considered autonomy-supportive and should therefore foster motivational outcomes beyond effective mission execution. Despite this, research on the relationship between mission command and soldiers’ motivation is currently lacking. In the current study, an instrument was developed to measure the perceived degree of mission command behavior. Using structural equation modeling, the instrument was then used to examine the relationship between perceived degree of mission command, basic psychological needs satisfaction and autonomous motivation, as well as soldiers’ job satisfaction and turnover intention. The empirical sample comprised 286 respondents from three different rapid-reaction forces in the Norwegian Home Guard. The results indicate that mission command was not directly related to autonomous motivation. However, there was a direct relationship between mission command and the satisfaction of the need for autonomy, and a significant indirect effect of mission command on autonomous motivation through satisfaction of the need for autonomy. Moreover, there was a positive relationship between autonomous motivation and job satisfaction and a negative relationship between autonomous motivation and turnover intention. Taken together, this study suggests that mission command leadership behaviors can contribute to basic needs satisfaction, promote soldiers’ autonomous motivation and job satisfaction, and reduce turnover intention. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.