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How Serving in the Military Prepared Me for Business Leadership — 7 Valuable Lessons I Learned Seven key military leadership tactics that I've successfully translated into a thriving business career.

By Roy Dekel Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • My experience in the military taught me invaluable lessons that I have effectively applied in the corporate world.
  • The principles learned in the military, such as clarity of mission, responsibility and accountability, help in creating a unified and motivated team, which fosters a culture of trust and high performance.
  • The ability to adapt and remain resilient in changing circumstances is crucial for business success. Military training equips leaders with the mindset to view failures as opportunities for growth.
  • Other valuable lessons involve the value of effective communication, decisiveness under pressure and the importance of teamwork and cohesion.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

My time in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) profoundly influenced my early development, shaping the leader I am today. From the rigors of basic training to the life-or-death situations on the battlefield, my military experience taught me invaluable lessons — lessons I have successfully translated into a thriving business career.

I am, by no means, trying to directly equate military service with leading a business. Still, there is undoubtedly a vast pool of wisdom and lessons born from military experience yielding significant value in the corporate environment.

Related: 5 Leadership Tactics You Should Borrow From a Legendary Vietnam War Hero

1. Clarity of mission

In the military, success begins with understanding your mission. A well-defined mission provides a clear "North Star," a guiding light that fuels action and strategy. It drives the "why" behind every order, providing the motivation needed to endure potentially life-threatening scenarios.

Retention of this lesson in my business life has allowed for clarity of goals.

SetSchedule's overarching aim is to revolutionize the real estate industry, an ambition motivated by creating value for our customers.

This understanding serves to unite our team, providing a clear and relatable vision that guides our work each day.

2. Decisiveness under pressure

In the military, situations often call for lightning-fast decisions. There is no room for indecisiveness; hesitation can lead to catastrophic outcomes.

The business realm too, though less life-threatening, demands quick decision-making at times. Market conditions can shift rapidly, unexpected situations arise, or difficult choices must be made.

My military life helped in such scenarios, ensuring prompt and decisive action even under unwanted pressure.

3. Responsibility and accountability

In the IDF, responsibility stretched beyond just my personal duties — it extended to the lives and welfare of my fellow troops. The weight of this responsibility compelled a high degree of accountability.

This degree of accountability has proven necessary in business, especially in starting one.

Being a CEO, my decisions impact not only the financial success of our company but also the livelihoods of all our employees.

This sense of responsibility cultivates an environment of trust and motivates high standards of performance throughout the organization.

4. Adaptability and resilience

There's one thing military service undoubtedly forges — resilience.

It trains us to adapt swiftly to changing circumstances and not falter in the face of adversity. Because a failed mission doesn't have to be the end; it's a chance to assess, adapt and emerge stronger.

Treating failures as learning opportunities is the cornerstone of business. If this resilience and adaptability extend to your employees, they will effortlessly promote a culture of constant improvement, even in the face of adversity.

Related: 7 Leadership Lessons From U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis

5. Precise communication

Explicit communication is life-or-death in the IDF. No one has time for ambiguity because it's so good at forging misunderstandings and risking lives and missions. Through military training, I honed my communication skills to be precise, clear and straightforward.

In business, I've found clear communication to be an equally invaluable asset. Be it articulating strategic vision, delegating tasks or giving feedback, precise communication ensures that everyone is on the same page, fostering a harmonious, efficient work environment.

6. Mentoring and developing leaders

The military is the perfect place to learn all the things I mentioned, and to teach them.

In the IDF, I was taught to identify potential, nurture skills and empower individuals — priming them to take up leadership positions in the future.

With this insight from the military, I always strive to mentor team leaders and open myself to the learning opportunities they bring.

7. Teamwork and cohesion

Last but definitely a highlight, military service engrains a profound sense of camaraderie. There is a shared commitment to accomplish the mission you're all in. It's about team over individual — an ethos pivotal to success on the battlefield.

We continually emphasize the value of collaboration in SetSchedule. Our collective success rests on every individual playing their part effectively while working as a unit rather than competing individuals.

Drawing from my military background in shaping my corporate leadership style has proven invaluable, providing insight, building resilience and fostering a team-oriented approach.

Related: 5 Business Lessons I Learned Working With Military Veterans

The lessons extracted continue to guide SetSchedule's mission and growth, shaping our company culture and business strategies. These tactics, infused with the necessary adjustments for the corporate world, yield powerful tools for business leadership, refining operations and forging a cohesive team.

The real estate industry needs a firm approach. One with a clear mission, unwavering resilience and a dedicated, united team.

Roy Dekel

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of SetSchedule

Roy Dekel, an American-Israeli entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist, co-founded and invested in numerous business, including SetSchedule, Rentastic, and Taskable. With unwavering commitment, he pushes tech innovation boundaries, redefining possibilities in enterprise and consumer spheres.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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