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.
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.
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?