Views on an officer career – the relationship between personality, leadership expectations and perceived qualities
More details
Hide details
Swedish Defence University, Stockholm, Sweden
Submission date: 2022-02-02
Final revision date: 2023-05-16
Acceptance date: 2023-10-25
Online publication date: 2023-12-29
Corresponding author
Johan Österberg   

Swedish Defence University, Stockholm, Sweden
The Swedish Armed Forces (SAF) have had difficulties in recruiting a sufficient amount of cadets to the officer program during the period with an all-volunteer force.

Participants and procedure:
Data were collected from different officer programs. 318 respondents fostered in the all-volunteer force (AVF) system completed the questionnaire and a cross-sectional design was used where cadets received a questionnaire at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of their training.

The results show that the informants perceived a clear distinction between leadership challenges in the short and long term. The cadets rate their practical knowledge/experience and gaining trust as most challenging in the short term, and personnel supply and reorganization in the long term. Younger cadets rate leadership challenges higher than older cadets do, which is in line with maturing as a human being and gaining more experience. Results based on personality were consistent with previous studies. Two of the future challenges for cadets, short-term leadership and knowledge challenges, showed associations with extraversion and neuroticism.

The results illustrate important topics to be stressed during the three year long officer program, in order to prepare cadets both with knowledge and skills but also with confidence and trust. This is of particular importance as the need to increase the number of cadets graduating from the academic officer program is growing. It implies that more and more cadets will be recruited directly from the basic military training, i.e., being young with relatively low military and leadership experience.

Ahronson, A., & Cameron, J. E. (2007). The nature and consequences of group cohesion in a military sample. Military psychology, 19, 9–25. https://doi/org/10.1080/089956....
Bartone, P. T., Eid, J., Johnsen, B. H., Laberg, J. C., & Snook, S. A. (2009). Big Five personality factors, hardiness and social judgement as predictors of leader performance. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 30, 498–521.
Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. (1991). The Big Five personality dimensions and job performance: a meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 44, 1–26.
Barrick, M. R., Mount, M. K., & Judge, T. A. (2001). Personality and performance at the beginning of the new millennium: What do we know and where do we go next? International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9, 9–30.
Bass, B. M. (1998). Transformational leadership: Industry, military, and educational impact. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Bass, B. M. (1999). Two decades of research and development in transformational leadership. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8, 9–32.
Bono, J. E., & Judge, T. A. (2004). Personality and transformational and transactional leadership: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 901–910.
Caforio, G. (2018). Military officer education. In G. Caforio & M. Nuciari (Eds.), Handbook of the sociology of the military (pp. 273–300). Springer.
Caforio, G., & Nuciari, M. (1994). The officer profession: Ideal-type. Current Sociology, 42, 33–56.
Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). The NEO PI-R professional manual. Psychological Assessment Resources.
De Fruyt, F., & Salgado, J. F. (2003). Applied personality psychology: Lessons learned from the IWO field. European Journal of Personality, 17, 121–131.
Einarsen, S., Aasland, M. S., & Skogstad, A. (2007). Destructive leadership behaviour: a definition and conceptual model. The Leadership Quarterly, 18, 207–216.
Erbes, C. R., Arbisi, P. A., Kehle, S. M., Ferrier-Auerbach, A. G., & Barry, R. A. (2011). The distinctiveness of hardiness, positive emotionality, and negative emotionality in national guard soldiers. Journal of Research in Personality, 45, 508–512.
Fiedler, E. R., Oltmanns, T. F., & Turkheimer, E. (2004). Traits associated with personality disorders and adjustment to military life: Predictive validity of self and peer reports. Military Medicine, 169, 207–211.
Fors Brandebo, M., Nilsson, S., & Larsson, G. (2016). Leadership: Is bad stronger than good? Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 37, 690–710.
Grönqvist, E., & Lindqvist, E. (2016). The making of a manager: Evidence from military officer training. Journal of Labor Economics, 34, 869–898.
Hedlund, E., & Österberg, J. (2013). Team training, team learning, leadership and psychology safety: a study of team training and team learning behavior during a Swedish military staff exercise. Sociology Mind, 3, 89–98.
John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 102–138). Guilford Press.
Judge, T. A., Bono, E. J., Ilies, R., & Gerhardt, W. M. (2002a). Personality and leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 765–780.
Judge, T. A., Heller, D., & Mount, M. K. (2002b). Five-factor model of personality and job satisfaction: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 530–541.
Krasikova, D. V., Green, S. G., & LeBreton, J. M. (2013). Destructive leadership: a theoretical review, integration, and future research agenda. Journal of Management, 39, 1308–1338.
Langholtz, H. J. (1998). The psychology of peacekeeping: Genesis, ethos, and application. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 4, 217–236.
Larsson, G., Lundin, J., & Zander, A. (2018). The leadership model – the art of matching individual and organizational characteristics. Studentlitteratur.
Larsson, G., Sandahl, C., Söderhjelm, T., Sjøvold, E., & Zander, A. (2017). Leadership behavior changes following a theory-based leadership development intervention: a longitudinal study of subordinates and leaders’ evaluations. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 58, 62–68.
Larsson, G., Carlstedt, L., Andersson, J., Andersson, L., Danielsson, E., Johansson, A., Johansson, E., Robertsson, I., & Michel, P. O. (2003). A comprehensive system for leader evaluation and development. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 24, 16–25.
Maguen, S., & Litz, B. T. (2006). Predictors of morale in U.S. peacekeepers. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36, 820–836.
Nilsson, J., & Österberg, J. (2021). Professional socialization during restructuring: a study of workload and career time. Armed Forces & Society, 48, 872–891.
Österberg, J., & Nilsson, J. (2019). A diary-based case study in the development of unit cohesion during basic training in the Swedish air force. Res Militaris, 9, 1029926.
Österberg, J., Oskarsson, E., & Nilsson, J. (2021). Perceptions of officer training among newly employed officers and specialist officers in the Swedish armed forces – a qualitative study. Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies, 4, 50–61.
Salimi, S. H., Karaminia, R., & Esmaeili, A. A. (2011). The study of personality traits, management styles and conflict in a military unit. Journal of Military Medicine, 13, 11–16.
Schaubroeck, J. M., Riolli, L. T., Peng, A. C., & Spain, E. S. (2011). Resilience to traumatic exposure among soldiers deployed in combat. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 16, 18–37.
Skogstad, A., Hetland, J., Glasø, L., & Einarsen, S. (2014). Is avoidant leadership a root cause of subordinate stress? Longitudinal relationships between laissez-faire leadership and role ambiguity. Work & Stress, 28, 323–341.
Soeters, J. L., Winslow, D. J., & Weibull, A. (2006). Military culture. In G. Caforio (Ed.), Handbook of the sociology of the military (pp. 237–254). Springer.
Swedish Research Council (2017). Forskningsetiska principer inom humanistisk-samhällsvetenskaplig forskning [Research ethics principles in humanities-social science research]. Vetenskapsrådet.
Sümer, H. C., Sümer, N., Demirutku, K., & Çifci, O. S. (2001). Using a personality-oriented job analysis to identify attributes to be assessed in officer selection. Military Psychology, 13, 129–146.
Szvircsev Tresch, T. (2008). Challenges in the recruitment of professional soldiers in Europe. Strategic Impact, 3, 78–86.
Tepper, B. J., Duffy, M. K., Hoobler, J., & Ensley, M. D. (2004). Moderators of the relationships between coworkers’ organizational citizenship behavior and fellow employees’ attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 455–465.
Thompson, R. W., & Bailey, M. (1993). The qualities of an officer. eHow Publishers.
Torgersen, G. E., Steiro, T. J., & Sæverot, H. (2013). Strategic education management: Outlines for a didactic planning model for exercises and training of the unexpected in high-risk organizations. Proceedings of the 22nd Society for Risk Analysis Europe (SRA E) Conference, Trondheim, Norway.
Woods, S. A., & Hampson, S. E. (2005). Measuring the Big Five with single items using a bipolar response scale. European Journal of Personality, 19, 373–390.
Copyright: © Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk This is an Open Access journal, all articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top