¶ … military imparts in an individual many important qualities that they carry out into the real world. These qualities are leadership, versatility, character, among others. The military is an excellent place to learn, to grow, and to better one's self. Many people have had long and successful careers that they earned only through being in the military. It teaches a person the importance of hard work, communication, and bravery.
The military allows for transition into a multitude of careers, especially career in the government. And in sectors where leadership skills are rare and sought after, the military prepares one to establish a secure foothold in these areas. Non-for-profits, volunteer organizations, and businesses all require strong and fearless leaders with clear direction and focus. The military offers exactly what a person needs early on to achieve anything they set out for. Six sections will be examined to show just how military lessons can translate success in other careers.
I. Business executives and managers in large, medium, and small corporations
Big corporations need chief executive officers that offer outstanding capabilities and handle pressure with ease. Candidates with military experience meet the demands of large corporations and often with successful results because of their experience and drive. In an article written by Groysberg, Hill, & Johnson (2010), they state the weight of military leadership in their confidence of a leader. "In Gallup's annual poll asking Americans about their confidence in various public and private institutions, one has ranked first or second nearly every year since 1973, when the poll began, and has topped the list continuously since 1998: the military. In the 2009 poll, 82% of respondents expressed "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the military, whereas only 16% expressed confidence in big business" (Groysberg, Hill, & Johnson, 2010, p. 1). Americans have long since used military experience as a marker for quality leadership. In a study performed by Korn/Ferry International (2005) they explain that 9% of all CEOs and S&P firms have CEOs with prior military experience.
It is only logical that people assume a military background shows good leadership, especially if that background includes a position where the officer was a leader. The military requires of its people resilience, quick decisions, physical prowess, and most importantly, mental agility. In a high-stakes environment, people who serve the military learn to deal with hardship, stress, and build character, integrity. Not only do people with military background embody all those qualities, they also learn to work in teams and build a desire to succeed. How does these traits build a great CEO?
Business is a game of communication, understanding supply and demand, networking, and building a good rapport with others. People trained in the military have to learn from the beginning to deal with differing personalities and how to communicate effectively from the beginning. They learn new skills and build upon those skills through service and experience. Controlling their emotions and expressing themselves clearly become a foundation for successful business. Afterall, business does not involve emotion, but rather, structure; military officers often learn how to network and run a business by the skills they learn during training.
In fact, a lot of former officers use the time in the military to advance their education, since the government gives them a stipend and scholarship. They also learn the value of formality and order. Research indicates the military trains it officers through "process-driven approach to management; personnel are expected to follow standard procedures without any deviation. This allows the CMEs to excel in highly regulated industries and, perhaps surprisingly, in innovative sectors" CMEs (Construction Management Engineers) from the Army and Marine Corps adopt flexibility and allow people to act on their ideas. Korn/Ferry International (2005), report CMEs demonstrate success in small firms, where they have offer a clear direction to others and identify competent subordinates in order to complete tasks.
CEO's like Clayton Jones also note that military officers are offered early on, leadership roles. Whether it's performing duties or leading exercise drills, young people in the military quickly gather leadership experience. Whereas in a corporate world, it takes around...
"At a very young age, you get a chance to be in leadership positions of significant magnitude" (KORN/FERRY INTERNATIONAL, 2006, p. 3). The CEOs from the study identified the different traits that made them successful in business. These include:
learning how to work as part of a team; organizational skills, such as planning and effective use of resources; good communication skills; defining a goal and motivating others to follow it; a highly developed sense of ethics; and the ability to remain calm under pressure. (KORN/FERRY INTERNATIONAL, 2006, p. 3)
It's no wonder Chief executive officers with military experience have longer business careers, their performance often beats their competitors. "They boast a median tenure of five years and an average tenure of 7.2 years, compared to four years and 4.5 years for all S&P 500 CEOs." (KORN/FERRY INTERNATIONAL, 2006, p. 4)
II. Elected officials
From the likes of George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant to Dwight D. Eisenhower, military leaders since the birth of the nation have been recognized by Americans as great leaders that embed useful experience outside a military environment. As presidents of a nation these men prove that the military is a training ground for effective and strong leaders. Since the birth of the United States, leaders have had to deal with wars, political strife, and economic instability. Military training, military leadership often led the men mentioned, to continue during hard times and ultimately succeed in keeping a nation united.
George Washington, the first president of the United States, battled for years to earn America its independence from Great Britain. He not only was the military leader of the war, but also one of the founding fathers. If it were not for his extensive military background, he would not have had the ability to withstand the constant battles brought on by the British or lead his soldiers to victory. In a book written by Burns & Dunn, it states the kind of man Washington was: "A brave, disciplined, tenacious military leader" (Burns & Dunn, 2004, p. 18) Many political leaders of history had in some way or other military experience. Kings during the middle ages would be in the first line of an army ready to battle. And as a U.S. president, one of a president's main powers is commander and, to have the ability to control an army.
The 18th president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant was the best Union general of the Civil War and the driving force for the Union's victory over the Confederacy. His war time efforts not only aided in the abolishment of slavery, it also secured him a position as the country's leader. In a book by Longacre, the author states how Vicksburg's surrendered ensured Lee's political career. "Vicksburg's surrender-coming as it did on the heels of Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg at the hands of Major General George Gordon Meade, ending Lee's sojourn in the North-gave the greatest possible boost to Grant's political career" (Longacre, 2006, p. 193)
The victory at Vicksburg gained the Union full control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy. This victory led to more Union triumphs like "the Battle of Chattanooga in late 1863" (Longacre, 2006, p. 210) and President Abraham Lincoln's appointment of Grant to lieutenant general and commander of all of the Union armies. Gaining the experience as commanding general of the army, Grant ensured the Union's ultimately victory and led the country to stability after the Civil War and during the chaotic times of the Reconstruction period soon after. Grant's foreign policy, spearheaded by Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, carried out International Arbitration, which resulted in the settlement of the Alabama Claims with Britain and helped to avoided war with Spain over the Virginius Affair. (Grant, In Moran, & United States, 1968, p. 177)
Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34 thPresident of the United States spanning two terms from 1953 to 1961. His military background includes being a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and his service as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. His military background gained him vital experience in planning and supervising in events such as the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942 -- 43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944 -- 45 from the Western Front. " In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO" (Ambrose, 1983, p. 87).
Following his stint in the military, Eisenhower also became president of Columbia University. His leadership skills imbued much need direction in the university and later translated in his presidency with the "space race" and his successful attempt at preventing the spread of Communism in poorer countries, he left a legacy of achievement. Political leaders often need to prove themselves in a military setting in order to show the country,…
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Burns, J.M., & Dunn, S. (2004). George Washington. New York: Times Books.
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Groysberg, B., Hill, A., & Johnson, T. (2010, November/December). Which of These People Is Your Future CEO?: The Different Ways Military Experience Prepares Managers for Leadership. The Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from http://hbr.org/2010/11/which-of-these-people-is-your-future-ceo-the-different-ways-military-experience-prepares-managers-for-leadership/ar/1
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VSB (2013, July 27). Retired Naval Officer Sees Nonprofit Sector as Great Fit | Military Leaders in Transition. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from http://seniormilitaryintransition.com/retired-naval-officer-sees-nonprofit-sector-as-great-fit/
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