- Excellent communication skills
- Enormous energy
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Common sense
- The ability to lead by example
Interestingly, all of the above characteristics can be acquired, which reinforces the age old adage that leaders are made not born.
These characteristics can be adapted to complement individual personalities. Never has this been more apparent than when examining the personalities of the two great American military leaders of World War 2. While General Douglas MacArthur had a massive ego and was described as the American Caesar, General Dwight Eisenhower was a very humble, self-effacing individual, the complete opposite of MacArthur. Yet both had excellent communication skills, immense courage, incredible energy, confidence and self-esteem, and led by example. Both became heroes of the 20th century, with MacArthur going on to become the proconsul of Japan after World War 2, overseeing its new constitution and the establishment of a democratically elected government, while Eisenhower became the 34th president of the United States.
In my opinion, military leadership principals are suitable and readily transferrable to the business sector. I clearly remember a quotation by a business leader who said, “Managers are people who do things right while leaders are people who do the right thing”.
Having spent three years in the US military, I am personally aware of their leadership principals and applied them throughout my business career. These principals are simply, “A leader should be physically and mentally tough, multi-faceted, self-aware and loyal up and down the chain of command”. How appropriate is that for business today?
In both the military and business environment, to be an effective leader your followers must have trust in you. In this day and age you cannot demand respect, you have to earn it.
Every great leader I have come across or studied has had a clear vision of where they wanted to be at a predetermined period in time and was able to articulately communicate this vision to their team and how it was to be accomplished. They possessed the energy to not only maintain their own exhausting work program, but to constantly energize their troops. This, coupled with the courage to persevere, sometimes against insurmountable odds, to accomplish great things epitomizes leadership. The application of common sense and confidence to lead by example and then take responsibility for your actions completes my profile of a modern-day business leader.
In summation, Stonewall Jackson, one of America’s most gifted military commanders, summed up leadership as follows, “The ability to prepare or get ready to fight, skill in actual fighting and the will to prevail in combat against a foe are the critical dimensions of leadership”.
These principals are equally applicable to business leaders and, in my opinion, answers the question with a big YES, as to whether the military model of leadership can apply to business organizations.