6 Traits of Exceptional Military Leaders That Apply in the Business World
Much of my leadership perspective is drawn on my military experience. In the military, I acquired my first leadership role as a commander and was able to learn firsthand that people will do best what they "want to do" and not what they "need to do." People will operate best from knowing "why" they do what they do, and not just "what" they need to do.
Having an effective leader in place to assist people with visualizing the end goal is key, and there are several aspects from my experience in the military that enable me to lay this vision out for my team. There are six essential traits of an exceptional military battalion, and through the years of leading my own troop at Menchie's it has become more and more clear that these same qualities make up successful businesses and the team members who comprise it.
In the military, everything is a team effort. If one individual is not pulling his or her weight, the implications will dramatic. While serving, I gained a deeper understanding of the importance of teamwork and working well with different personalities, and in turn this has allowed me to build a winning team. Selecting the right people to join the team is instrumental to achieving high quality teamwork. The right selection leads to winning teams.
While serving, you are pushed to obtain the unreachable. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty and do tasks sometimes outside of your scope.
Being a part of the military, one is intuitively engineered to strive for the best results. The level of accountability that comes from military experience provides the ability for an organization to preserve resources and time. I believe in holding myself accountable to the highest standards and in leading by example.
In the military, when a system does not exist, you create one. The common goal is to create a fail-proof system, much like creating systems to streamline efficiencies in business.
While serving, I observed a natural determination in myself and those around me to exceed yesterday's results every single day. It is this "can do" attitude and energy that makes everyone strive to push themselves that much more.
6. Higher purpose
A large part of being part of the military is wanting to assist others and make a difference in the communities in which you serve. At Menchie's, we strive to improve the lives of others on a daily basis. A higher purpose provides inspiration for people to persevere through the various different challenges in the business world.
The frozen yogurt marketplace is extremely saturated and there is competition everywhere we go. I have come to learn that a true leader always puts his team before himself, and in our case, I put our people before profits. We bring food trucks to the office to celebrate milestones, offer a buffet lunch every Friday and take the time to bond as a unit at company-wide events throughout the year.
The needs of my team come before my own and it is this kind of culture that builds camaraderie, tenacity and drive – necessary qualities to not only survive, but also thrive in a crowded marketplace.
Strong leadership cannot happen if people do not follow and believe in the common mission you lay out and cultivate. From my military service, I learned people need to see and visualize the end game in order to walk the lengthy path, and laying a vision is critical.
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