Leadership, Business and Military Experience

From USA Today, “A vanishing breed: CEOs seasoned by military combat.” The article is written with big-business CEOs in mind, but it all applies to the small business owner and entrepreneur.

Here are a few interesting and/or controversial tidbits:

Combat veterans don’t rattle easily. They have seen pressure, and they’ve seen it young. There is no substitute for war to force twentysomethings into life-or-death decisions that influence their leadership style decades later. A business crisis just doesn’t seem stressful in comparison, says Zadel, 61, a West Point graduate who was under enemy fire in more than a dozen operations in Vietnam.

And…

The shift is already responsible for the lack of business ethics that has led to scandal, says retired admiral Bill Owens, 64. Formerly the second-highest-ranking military officer in the USA as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he took over as CEO of Canadian telecommunications giant Nortel after its accounting scandal.
Owens says fewer leaders with combat experience means fewer who know what it means to sacrifice to do the right thing. That played a role in causing scandals such as those at Enron, WorldCom and Nortel, and led to the laws passed to clean them up and avert recurrences, Owens says.

And…

Moore is such an avid believer in the lessons of combat that he suspects lack of it may partly explain the slow rise of top female executives in business. Few experts have voiced this belief, but if it’s true, Moore says, women stand a better chance at promotions when few men have combat experience, too. Moore says countries that have war veterans will likely gain a competitive advantage. Earley says some combat veterans of the Gulf wars can prepare for a meteoric rise.

What d’ya think?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous May 21, 2005 at 9:05 am

Military Leaders like butchers, bakers and candle stick makers are just people.  They are a cross section of society.  There are good ones and bad ones.  And there are many examples of veterans who came back after wars and could not really fit in to society, just like there are examples of sucessful ones.

Someone might want to point out to Adm. Owens that the military has a few of its own scandles going on as of late (and always has).

And what are the most successful businesses around now? Microsoft, Intel, Wal-Mart, Amazon, eBay.  Did they have military leaders?

How about Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, any of the Walton family, Michael Dell or Larry Ellison.  Were any of them in the military?

And just so you know, I spent 20 years in the US Navy.  I have a lot of experience looking at military leaders.
——-

Reply

2 Anonymous May 21, 2005 at 2:05 pm

Military Leaders like butchers, bakers and candle stick makers are just people.  They are a cross section of society.  There are good ones and bad ones.  And there are many examples of veterans who came back after wars and could not really fit in to society, just like there are examples of sucessful ones.
Someone might want to point out to Adm. Owens that the military has a few of its own scandles going on as of late (and always has).
And what are the most successful businesses around now? Microsoft, Intel, Wal-Mart, Amazon, eBay.  Did they have military leaders?
How about Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, any of the Walton family, Michael Dell or Larry Ellison.  Were any of them in the military?
And just so you know, I spent 20 years in the US Navy.  I have a lot of experience looking at military leaders.——-

Reply

3 Anonymous January 19, 2005 at 5:01 pm

All of the thoughts in the post are very true. 

But common sense dictates that since fewer service men and women have been involved in battles over the last 30 years than at any time in America’s history.  Therefore the pool of available veterans is much smaller than ever.

Reply

4 Anonymous January 19, 2005 at 10:01 pm

All of the thoughts in the post are very true. 
But common sense dictates that since fewer service men and women have been involved in battles over the last 30 years than at any time in America’s history.  Therefore the pool of available veterans is much smaller than ever.

Reply

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