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Be a Better Business Leader

Running a company takes more than just business skills.

Many entrepreneurs fail to grow because they lack leadership skills. And rather than look in the mirror, they find it easier to blame others. Blame is short for be-lame, and you can't be an effective leader if you're lame.

Some of the best entrepreneurial education I received came from military school and service in the military. In 1965, I accepted appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy. After graduation in 1969, I spent nearly six years in the Marine Corps as a helicopter pilot, with one year in Vietnam.

Looking back, I can see where military school has paid off. The first step in my education at the academy was to have my head shaved. My civilian clothes were packed up and shipped home. My first words were "Yes, sir." My first assignment was to memorize the mission of the academy.

Though academics were important at the academy, they took a secondary position to leadership training. We learned how to take and give orders. Our priorities were drummed into our heads: First was the mission, second was the team, and personal interests came last.

As Marine officers, we were taught how to lead young men into battle, men willing to give their lives for their country. We were expected to do the same.

Today, I sincerely believe much of my entrepreneurial success comes from my military education. Although I didn't go to a formal business school and I don't have an MBA, I am able to hire smart business school graduates.

This doesn't mean you have to go to military school or be on active duty to grow a business. I'm only pointing out the different focuses of two very different educational institutions and saying that if you want to grow your business, it may take more than just business skills.

I learned leadership skills in the Marines, and you can supplement--and complement--your business school education by applying the lessons you've learned about discipline, focus and vision and using them to become a stronger leader--one who puts the mission and team ahead of the individual and who inspires your team with strength and commitment.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the Rich Dad series of books, is an investor, entrepreneur and educator whose perspectives have changed the way people think about money and investing.

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This article was originally published in the February 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Leading Edge.

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