I think that every company needs to hire more veterans period. Their bias for execution is unmatched and highly desirable. I put forward those men and now women who are Infantry Officers in the United States Marine Corps because I am extremely familiar with their training, culture, and experience. From what I am told, our Brethren in the Army have a similar experience, I just don’t know first-hand. So you will need to take some one elses word for it. Here are all of the reasons your company should hire Marine Infantry Officers yesterday.
The result of the production process for Infantry officers in the Marine Corps is best described as a status center of high performers. We definitely have our boogers just like any other organization but, for the most part we manage to flick them to the wall. When you want a high performer in the finance world you think Goldman, or J. P. Morgan. When looking for a status center in the consulting world the names Bain and Mckinsey come to mind. The tech world, we think Google, Apple, Amazon. Hiring managers see these names and understand that with them comes a culture of superb performance. They want to hire people with experience at these companies because the vetting has already been done for them. The same level of respect should be placed on the Infantry community and most of the other combat arms (Artillery, Combat Engineers, etc).
The skills below are beaten into the mind of the Infantry Officer with such intensity that he or she will never forget them. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Unlike our constitution I treat this list as a living document that I pull from and add to frequently. My belief is you can’t box up all of the intangible skills the military instills amongst the ranks of warrior elite. The civilian world refers to many of these skills as soft skills. That may be true when you consider the way they are taught to people in the rest of the world. However, they are a competitive advantage when you discuss Infantry Officers and they must be treated as such. To call them “soft” skills is an insult.
The perfect plan that never gets executed is nowhere near as good as the half assed plan that does. Members of the military eat, sleep, and breath this principle. No one in the military cares how great your ideas were if in the end you didn’t execute. No one cares If a commander conceives the greatest possible way to take a machine gun bunker. They don’t give out medals to men with great ideas. They give them out to men of action. The understanding of execution is a precious commodity. Especially in a world of billion dollar start-up unicorns that never deliver a return on investment.
It is etched into the heads of all of us. Opportunities are fleeting. Seizing the ability to gain an advantage can and must be exploited within minutes or even seconds. An infantrymen who has conducted a trench-clearing drill understands that they must dive into that bunker seconds after a grenade explosion. This allows them to capitalize on the daze and confusion created on their enemy from the concussion of the blast. Sales, marketing, and strategy are all verticals and skill-sets in the business world that understand the fact that hesitation kills. When choosing to hire an individual for your company who can carry out your intent you want an Infantry Officer. When the time comes they can and will always go for the throat. These are the go-getters every organization wants and needs.
There are few places on this earth that pay as much attention to communicating expectations to a group of people as the Infantry does. The Infantry culture is steeped in a neuroticism toward clear and concise communication. Major Battles throughout history have been won or lost due to the level of clarity of written and verbal communication. Members of the military understand that they not only need to communicate expectations, but that they must consider the multiple ways a communication can be received. An individual who can clearly articulate expectations to their team is in limited supply today. One who can provide sincere feedback that makes the team better is in even shorter supply.
The Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication on tactics includes a chapter entitled “Making it happen.” We can discuss specific knowledge in terms of achieving business objectives, monitoring the appropriate KPMs, and cost buckets in the business world. All of that can be perfect at a company and they can still fail to deliver in the end. The major competitive advantage of the Infantry Officer is their ability to make it happen regardless of outside circumstances. T.E. Lawrence captured this concept best in the following quote:
““Nine-tenths of tactics are certain, and taught in books: but the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals.”T. E. Lawrence
Infantry Officers understand that friction, luck, and maintaining moment are all key essentials to victory on the battlefield. All three of these concepts are extremely hard to control. This forces the Infantry Officer to approach any engagement with an almost neurotic understanding that murphy’s law can and will come into play at some point. Much like a skilled chess player, they generally have three responses planned to an unexpected counter by the enemy. Responding to markets, and competitors is no different in the business world. The expectations of Captains and Lieutenants are the same on the battlefield as they are on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.
Two things must be abundantly clear regarding this article. First, there is no reason to believe other officers in the military are lacking in these skills. I only exclude them from this discussion because if I am going to vouch for a community, I am required to be completely familiar with their culture and organization. I have developed that level of comfort with the infantry community. Second, there is nothing to say that the Staff Non-commissioned Officer and Non-commissioned Officer lack in these skills either. If anything, it is strong Staff Non-commissioned Officers and Non-commissioned Officers who have helped to develop these skills further in the Commissioned Officer Corps. If you meet any great Junior Military Officer, you can guarantee he or she had even more impressive Staff Non-commissioned Officers and Non-commissioned Officers behind him. Want to gain a competitive advantage for your team or company? Look no further than the Marine Infantry Officer.
John McCarthy is a Father, Son, Husband and former Marine Infantry Officer. He serves his local community and just wants to push people to be better humans. Check out the Tough Talk Podcast and other writings on this website to learn more.