Let’s explore the 10 basic principles of military leadership, which can be applied to Business, and how civilians may benefit from applying these principles to their businesses, family, and life in general.
- Leaders provide direction, guidance, and priorities
A good leader does not micromanage. They provide direction and guidance in the military; this is called commanders intent. The leader does not dictate every aspect of a project. He will give limits and point his team in the right direction. The leader usually holds back information from the team and lets them figure out how to do something. Of course, if guidance is needed, the leader will step in and offer up knowledge and direction.
- Team of experts led by a generalist
The military will use a generalist to lead a team and have the team members be experts, much like a conductor for an orchestra. The conductor may not know how to play every instrument in the orchestra, but he knows how to integrate them and make a beautiful symphony.
- Staff section expertise
The military consists of various staff members, all of whom have their areas of expertise. The ranking goes like this:
- SJA – lawyer
- S1 – human resources
- S2- Intelligence
- S3- operations
- S4- logistics
- S5- planning
- S6- communications, network, and IT
- S7- training, exercise, and readiness
- S8- finance
- S9- civil-military operations
- General staff will be G1 – G9
- Joint staff will be J1- J9
These are needed experts in a business outside of the military. If you have a small business, it is perfectly ok, and is good practice to outsource these jobs.
- Span of control
The recommended span of control in the military is 3-5 platoons, anymore, and you run the risk of becoming overwhelmed. This is a great practice to use in business. Maintaining a manageable staff and workload will decrease the risk of overwhelm and burnout.
- Standing operating system (SOP)
A standing operation system is a guideline for handling things in the military. An example is an officer who is in the S3 operations section who will have a training SOP outlining whom to contact for the attending schools and follow-on training, how to request the use of a range, and how to request ammo. SOP is generally digital and stored in a SharePoint folder. These types of guides would be helpful in a business outside of the military to ensure every staff member is on the same page and understands how the business functions and who are the points of contact.
- Planning and orders process
The military has a strict planning process known as the military decision-making process, aka MD MP. It consists of seven steps. Step two is mission analysis, broken down into eighteen tasks that highlight the deliberate planning sequence that all officers in any area of the military must follow. This guideline for planning for the future would translate well into a business for creating future plans.
- Back briefs
Communication is dire in the military. While the consequences of bad communication in a business setting may not have the same results as in the military, it is still a vital aspect. The back briefing is an excellent technique to ensure communication between you and your team members is clear and effective. After explaining what you need to be done, how to do it, and the timeline, have them repeat it back to you. This shows that they heard you and they understand what is expected of them.
- Develop subordinates
The military offers its officers a chance to develop themselves and become great leaders through education programs. I call this Continued professional development (CPD). Offering the people who work for you a chance to strengthen their skills and broaden their knowledge base will make for a much more competent workforce and stronger leaders and followers.
- Combined and Joint operations (collaboration)
Combined = militaries from other countries
Joint = other branches of the military
It is common nowadays in the military for forces to work in combined and joint collaborations. Whether it’s other military branches or other countries, this creates synergy and legitimacy. Synergy allows the effect of the collaboration to be greater than if the branch worked alone. This is a great way to look at collaborating in your business, and it almost always guarantees you will see better results and have more success. If you want your business to be successful, you should always look for ways to collaborate.
- The team is more important than individual
One of the virtues in the military is that it is not about you; it is about the team. The team is more important than the individual. That is why you hear about soldiers throwing themselves atop a grenade and sacrificing themselves to save those they serve, or you hear about soldiers continuing to fight when they are injured or staying when they should be evacuating. It would be a good idea to invest in building a team and supporting a team mentality in a business. A team is always more successful than an individual.
There you have it, the 10 principles of military leadership. These tools should be used to become a more effective leader in your business, at home, and even in your life in general.