Business Leadership Vs. Battlefield Prowess

I recently read a post by a business leadership consultant bashing the phenomena of Military Leadership strategies and training and its recent gain in popularity when applied to businesses. After all, we don’t need a bunch of Drill Instructors running around accounts payable screaming in peoples faces to meet deadlines. There are preconceived notions of military leadership that would be awful to have in the workplace. However, there are other skills our top military personnel have harnessed that we would benefit from seeing more of in the work place. I would argue one group is cornering the market on training people in these skills. Although an expensive seminar led by a bunch of Navy Seals is not the only way to engrain a military leadership mentality into your culture.

Where Military Leadership can be bad in business

As stated jokingly, we do not need a bunch of screamers running around jamming deadlines down people’s throats. I’ve been in commands where people do this during my time in the military, and frankly the person who is losing their mind over things that need to get done is not usually well-liked or well-respected in or out of uniform. The only time it is acceptable for a person in uniform to be absolutely screaming their head off at people outside of basic training, is when bullets are flying or someone is in a situation where anything but immediate obedience to orders could result in their death. The rest of the time, military leaders are encouraged to exude calmness and confidence in order to set the example for those they command. We are not a bunch of Drill Instructors.

Where Military Leadership training can benefit business

Mission first, Marines Always, was a saying I repeated to others and myself frequently while in uniform. Military leaders are required to put the mission first and care deeply for the morale and welfare of those under their command. We can stop at the fact that they are experts at this and make it the sole basis for an argument to implement their leadership principles in business. Get the job done and take care of your people. It is as simple as that. Additionally, great military leaders have accomplished their tasks when the most valuable assets were on the line. Our nation’s sons and daughters. In many cases their mistakes risked going home in flag draped coffins. Thus they understand the nuance of prioritizing their mission and those assets. Failing to do so could result in inescapable regret for the rest of their life.

The Burden of Command

The burden of command is a well known term amongst military personnel in the combat arms. You are required to care deeply about those in your command to a point that you love them like your family. Simultaneously, you are required to be willing to put those people in harms way to accomplish the mission. Both of these things, the mission and the men, are the Ying and the Yang of military leadership. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, two Navy Seals and owners of Echelon Front, have captured the essence of this burden in their Book, “The Dichotomy of Leadership.” I think business leaders would do well to read this book based on the principles shared within, paired with their repeated application to business. Babin and Willink used this book to improve upon the shortfalls of their first book, “Extreme Ownership” and focus more on the nuances of leadership. Nuances like putting the mission first and caring deeply about your people.

Instilling Military Leadership Principles in Your Business

You don’t have to hire Echelon front to do this if you don’t want to. Although, I think after reading their books I would recommend it. One alternative is to hire, tested and proven Military leaders in your organization and institute this way of thinking in your corporate culture organically. You can provide books and hold leadership education and mentoring sessions with your middle management and executives where groups talk about the application of Military style leadership to business. You can lead by example by implementing those lessons you have taken from great leaders and applying them in your own daily actions and habits. You can start by focusing on the mission first, the people always.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: