Title: Military leadership and emotion regulation in acute situations that contain moral dilemmas

Authors: Sofia Nilsson; Carina Brandow; Alicia Ohlsson; Gerry Larsson

Addresses: Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership, Swedish Defence University, Karolinen, Våxnäsgatan 10, 65180, Karlstad, Sweden ' Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership, Swedish Defence University, Karolinen, Våxnäsgatan 10, 65180, Karlstad, Sweden ' Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership, Swedish Defence University, Karolinen, Våxnäsgatan 10, 65180, Karlstad, Sweden ' Swedish Defence University, Karolinen, Våxnäsgatan 10, 65180, Karlstad, Sweden; Hedmark University College, Elverum, Norway

Abstract: The aim was to gain a deeper understanding of individual emotion-focused coping strategies and institutionalised norms as regards emotion regulation in a short-and long-term perspective in relation to acute stressful situations that contain moral dilemmas. 15 participants at different hierarchical levels in the Swedish Armed Forces (SAF) were interviewed. Several individual emotion regulation strategies and organisational norms for emotional expressiveness were identified. These were integrated into a theoretical model. The study contributes by explicating a context-specific emotion culture that gives limited space for emotional expression as it is necessary to remain firm and cold in acute situations that include moral dilemmas. Leaders must be able to minimise emotional displays in order to contribute to operational efficiency (termed emotional containing capacity). Potential conflicts between a well-developed emotional containing capacity in acute situations and long-term adaptation to organisational norms in daily life after missions and practical implications are discussed.

Keywords: military leadership; coping strategies; emotional labour; emotion regulation; emotion culture; stress.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2017.10010203

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2017 Vol.8 No.4, pp.269 - 289

Accepted: 15 Sep 2017
Published online: 09 Jan 2018 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article