"Train in, not select out?: Bangor leadership training model decreased the high wastage rates in British army recruits and improved training practices

Submitting Institutions

Cardiff Metropolitan University,
Bangor University

Unit of Assessment

Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Business and Management
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences: Psychology

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Summary of the impact

Because of the arduous nature of recruit training, high wastage (due to failure or withdrawal) has always been a problem for the Armed Services. A ten year programme of research funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) led to changes in the delivery of training across the three Armed Services (especially the Army), the formation of a new Army training establishment, a new tri-service monitoring and training body, better mental health in military recruits, and significant reductions in wastage rates (up to 15%). The model developed by this research has also informed training in the Canadian and United States Armed Services.

Underpinning research

The initial study in 1999 was a collaboration between Hardy L and the Institute of Naval Medicine (INM) which investigated the reasons for wastage in Royal Marine recruits. The findings suggested that the training environment could be enhanced by developing the transformational leadership and coaching skills of recruit trainers (mostly non-commissioned officers on two year postings) [1]. Hardy L was subsequently invited to lead a programme of interventional research [2, 6] which demonstrated that: (i) trainers use of transformational leadership behaviours significantly predicted training outcome (e.g., pass/fail) and the training experience of Royal Marine recruits (e.g., confidence, resilience, self-esteem, satisfaction with training); (ii) training recruit trainers in transformational leadership and associated coaching skills significantly impacted these training variables.

The above findings aroused considerable interest in military settings. Consequently, Hardy L was invited to extend the research to the British Infantry, a much larger organisation. This research [3] confirmed the Royal Marines' findings and also showed some regimental differences in key leadership variables (for instance, an appropriate role model was more important for Guards Regiments, whilst inspirational motivation was more important for the Parachute Regiment). Furthermore, the research demonstrated that training recruit trainers to use transformational leadership and coaching skills could bring about long term change within the organisation that was sustainable beyond the period of the trainers' postings [3, 7].

As a result of this second success, Hardy L and Arthur were invited to conduct similar research at the Infantry Battle School, Brecon, where all non-commissioned officers receive their training prior to promotion [4], and at the Initial Training Group, where recruits for non-Infantry Regiments (e.g., Tank, Artillery, Engineers) receive their initial training [5]. This research confirmed the generalisability of the previous findings.

In summary, this ten year programme of research demonstrated that training the non-commissioned officers who deliver training in transformational leadership and coaching skills reduces wastage in training, and enhances the soldier-in-training's performance and mental health. These findings were confirmed across different arms of the British military services, different training establishments and at different levels of training. The Bangor model of transformational leadership focuses upon providing an inspirational vision of what training will lead to, helping trainees to understand the challenges that must be overcome, and providing individualised support to help them overcome those challenges. The coaching skills utilised by the model are: developing a coaching relationship; setting appropriate goals, giving and receiving feedback, and asking questions that help soldiers-in-training to find their own solutions.

A feature of this research was that the researchers worked with a team of "key influencers" (typically, one commissioned officer between two and five warrant officers) from within the organisation. This ensured a legacy was left within the organisation after the research had been completed. These teams were coached to design and deliver bespoke leadership and coaching interventions to trainers within their organisation. The teams sat outside the normal Chain of Command (something of a precedent in the Armed Services) so that recruit trainers could receive additional coaching without jeopardising their annual reports and promotion prospects.

The key researchers involved in this research are Hardy L (appointed in 1978 now a Professor) and Arthur (appointed as a research assistant in 2004 and then as a Lecturer in 2009) who left in December 2012.

References to the research

The selection of underpinning research includes two international peer-reviewed journal articles. The first is in Leadership Quarterly [6], one of the top peer reviewed leadership journals, and top 10 organisational psychology journals — it has a 5 year impact factor of 4.295. This output had been cited 24 times by September 2013 and is being returned in present REF submission by Hardy L. Based on collaborative research that received £30,000 funding from the INM (contract number CB/FLT1B/1103), the results were initially reported in research reference 2.

The second journal article [7] was based on research that received £135,000 funding from the MoD (contract No. AG1a/1337). The results were initially reported in research reference 3. Two other references are from research commissioned by the Ministry of Defence. Contract Number CTLBC/158 was for £90,000 [5], and Tender Number HQLF2/1712 was for £73,417 [5] and included Wagstaff as a research assistant who had previously been a doctoral student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The remaining reference [1] is to the initial collaborative qualitative study which received £7,000 funding from the INM.

In this section, external collaborating researchers are identified by * for the INM staff, and # for Royal Marines staff. The other researchers were members of the Institute for Research Excellence in Sport and Exercise.

1. Hardy L., Shariff, A.*, Jones, G., & Allsopp, A.* (2001). A review of the psychological aspects of Royal Marine recruit training. Institute of Naval Medicine Report No. 2000.054 (Restricted Access), 31 pages.


2. Hardy L., Shariff, A.*, Munnoch, K.*, & Allsopp, A.* (2004), Can leadership development positively influence the psychological environment of military training? An interim evaluation of the Royal Marines Coaching Advisory Team leadership initiative, Institute of Naval Medicine Report No. 2004.005, 43 pages.

3. Hardy L. & Arthur, C. (2006). Report on Study into the Infantry Training Centre Coaching and Leadership Initiative. Research report to the Army Recruitment and Training Division, Upavon, UK, 45 pages.

4. Hardy L. & Arthur C. (2008). A Study into the Section Commanders Course at the Infantry Battle School (Brecon). Research report to the Army Recruitment and Training Division, Upavon, UK, 71 pages.

5. Arthur C., Hardy L. & Wagstaff, C. (2010). Report on Study into Values Based Leadership, Transactional Leadership, and Coaching on the Internalisation of the Core Values of the British Army and Attitude in Phase 1 Army Training. Research report to the Army Recruitment and Training Division, Upavon, UK, 56 pages.

6. Hardy L., Arthur, C., Jones, G., Shariff, A.*, Munnoch K.*, Isaacs I.#, & Allsopp A.* (2010). The relationship between transformational leadership behaviors, psychological, and training outcomes in elite military recruits. Leadership Quarterly, 21, 20-32. DOI: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.10.002


7. Arthur, C. & Hardy L. (2013). Transformational Leadership: A Quasi-Experimental study. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, in press.


Details of the impact

The research had impact by enhancing the training facilities of the British Army, reducing wastage in training, and enhancing the mental health and performance of soldiers-in-training. From 2008, it benefitted the organisation, and all recruits, as evidenced by the specific impacts that follow. Numbers in superscript refer to particular sources to corroborate the impact (in section 5).

In 2008, informed by the above research, the Army Recruiting and Training Division (ARTD) established the Army Staff Leadership School (ASLS) with the remit of training all non-commissioned officers that received training postings in transformational leadership and coaching skills. The British Army uses non-commissioned officers to train approximately 10,000 new recruits each year. These non-commissioned officers are trained to deliver that training by ASLS. All Army trainers get posted back into active service after two years. Thus, by enhancing the coaching and leadership skills of trainers, the whole organisation has been influenced 1, 2, 3, 4.

In 2010, Arthur and Hardy advised on revisions to the ASLS programme. Arthur also led a group of IRESE staff (Arthur, Beattie, Hardy J, Roberts, and Lawrence) who subsequently delivered staff development training to enable ASLS staff to deliver their revised programme 3.

The original research was widely reported — in particular in a Lead Article in the Times Higher Education Supplement on 4 November 2005 5, and in the August 2005 issue of The Soldier magazine 6, which has a circulation of 100,000. The Bangor model of leadership and coaching also holds a central position in the Army Recruiting and Training Division's booklet `A Guide to Leadership in the ARTD' published in 2009 1, 8.

In 2011, Hardy was invited to review and comment on the Army's new leadership doctrine document which was being prepared by the Royal Military Academy. The document, Developing Leaders: A Sandhurst Guide (2012), references the Bangor model of leadership in paragraphs 502 and 518 1, 9.

The Royal Marines adopted the Bangor coaching and leadership model for the delivery of training to their recruits prior to 2008 and still use it to the present day. Consequently, it impacts 1250 Royal Marines recruits each year 1, 2, 4.

The 2006 tri-service review of the use and effectiveness of coaching across the UK Armed Services [Patrick, J., Ahmed, A., Hodgetts, H., Hutchings, P., Morgan, P., Scrase, G., Tombs, M. & Watts, H. (2006). Effectiveness of coaching techniques in military training. Ministry of Defence, Contract No. RT/COM/4/008] used the Bangor model as a cornerstone for its assessment and found that 92% of the critical incidents they examined could be mapped onto the Bangor model. In 2007, the Tri-Service Defence Centre of Training and Support (DCTS) was established to define and validate the standards that training organisations in the three Armed Services in the UK have to meet. Since 2008, DCTS has also adopted the Bangor model for the delivery of coaching and leadership training across the Armed Services 1, 4.

Phrases now in common use across training establishments in the Armed Services were adopted directly from the research and associated reports — for instance "Train in, not select out" (encouraging trainers to focus on training rather than testing recruits), "Vision, Support, Challenge" (summarising transformational leadership) 1, 4.

Hardy presented the results of the initial research to: the Director General of the Royal Marines' Board (2002); the Annual Conference of the ARTD (2003 and 2004); the Director General of ATRD's Board (2005 and 2007); and the Deputy Adjutant General for the Army (2007). During the current REF period, impact has also been reinforced via presentation to the Adjutant General for the whole Army (2008); and the DCTS Tri-Service symposium on Coaching and leadership (2008). He also delivered keynote addresses on the research at: the Infantry Battle School's annual Cross Brief (2008, 2010 and 2012); the Annual Conference of the Initial Training Group (2010); and the ASLS Commanding Officer's Conference on Coaching (2011). Arthur gave a keynote address to the ASLS Commanding Officer's Conference on Coaching in 2012. These presentations all underpin and underline the impact 1, 2, 3.

The posts of the key influencers utilised in the research were converted into permanent positions at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines Lympstone and the Infantry training centre at Catterick when the research was completed 1, 4,. The level of knowledge of these teams has surprised independent observers 7.

Indicators of extended impact include: (i) The British Army trains recruits and non-commissioned officers from a number of other Commonwealth countries using the Bangor model. (ii) British Army trainers have presented invited workshops to the Canadian and United States armed services on the delivery of the Bangor model 1, 4.

Four further PhD studentships in IRESE funded by external sponsors have made use of the Bangor model in high level sport (Sports Council for Wales, 2009), outdoor activities (Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships, 2010), and higher education delivery (the Drapers Trust, 2009 and Higher Education Academy, 2013). Thus the reach of the research is now extending beyond the original populations of study.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Letter from the Senior Officer in command of the G7 Training Division at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick from 2009 to 2012, when he retired from the Army. He was awarded the MBE for his services to training.
  2. Letter from the person that was the Senior Scientific Officer for the Army Recruiting and Training Division from 2001 until 2010 (now head of Sport Science at Bath University).
  3. Letter from the Commanding Officer of the Army Staff Leadership School at Pirbright from 2010 to 2013.
  4. Letter from the second-in-command at HMS Indefatiguable, the Tri-Service Outdoor Adventure Centre in LlanfairPG, Anglesey.
  5. Times Higher Education Supplement 4th November, 2005. Attention! Top brass agree new manoeuvre. Available from: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/attention-top-brass-agree-new-manoeuvre/199538.article
  6. The Soldier, August 2005. From track to battlefield: Catterick's cutting edge coaching and leadership techniques modernise training, p. 43. (This magazine has a circulation of 100,000).
  7. Independent Advisory Panel (2007) Report on Infantry Training Centre Catterick. Available from: http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/160310_ITCC_IAP_report_07.pdf
  8. The Bangor model of leadership and coaching also holds a central position in the Army Recruiting and Training Division's booklet "A Guide to Leadership in the ARTD" (Upavon, Wiltshire:ARTD, 2009
  9. Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (2012). Developing Leaders — A Sandhurst Guide. Camberley, Surrey, The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Available from: https://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/rmas_developing_leaders.pdf