Curated Leadership for Today's World

If business is war, then why don’t we train for it?

Posted on 06 May 2010

The month of May always brings to my mind thoughts of my time in the military. There’s Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, two times when we as a nation reflect on the service of our military members past and present. The military taught me many things: how to eat square meals, how to make a bed so tight you could flip a quarter on it, and how to roll my socks into little balls with smiley faces. But the greatest discipline they taught me was reading about the military greats that made our country, and the entire world, what it is today.

My military regimen was as mental as it was physical. Reading, studying and memorizing the historical greats was an integral part of this ongoing education. I can still remember reciting Gen. Patton’s quotes and reading Sun Tzu’s classic, The Art of War.

Did you know that in the military there are three major milestones throughout a soldier’s career where they are dedicated to the tasks of reading, studying and writing? It’s called Professional Military Education, completion of which is a requirement for promotion. Wouldn’t it be great if this trend—­training leaders by making them readers—was embraced across the civilian workplace as well?

What if, before an individual contributor moved into the role of lead or assistant manager, they got sent away for six weeks to engage in team building activities and to study the successes and mistakes of leaders in their particular industry? What if, before an individual got promoted to the role of General Manager, they had to do the same only this time the program would be longer and more intensive? What if before an individual became a CEO, they had to go away for a year to get a degree in leadership and mentoring? 

If leaders really are a dying breed, why aren’t we in the corporate side as focused on growing them as our military counterparts are? They say character, integrity, compassion and vision are needed to turn good businesses to great. If we really want America to be great again, why don’t we invest in grooming our next generation?

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