How Military Experience Can Help You Become an Effective Leader

Every year, over 5000 applications are sent to the Italian Air Force. Only 100 are selected to start training. In August 1994 Armando Poeta was one of them. The military branch is passionate about finding the people that are right for the job.

During three and a half years in the Air Force Academy, hard training begins. Cadets must partake in military drills, pilot training, college study courses, and more. They are not just learning what it takes to be a good soldier. They are learning what it takes to be a good leader.

How Does the Military Help You Become an Effective Leader?

One need only look at the 11 Marine Corps Leadership Principles to understand how they can help an individual become an effective leader in civilian life. They include the following:

Military Principle 1: Know Yourself and Seek Self-improvement
  • On a Civilian Level: A greater self-awareness will allow you to reach your full potential. It will help you recognize similar traits in others so you can lead them toward goal fulfillment.
Military Principle 2: Be Technically and Tactically Proficient
  • On a Civilian Level: Know your job so you can guide others.
Military Principle 3: Know your Marines and Look Out for Their Welfare
  • On a Civilian Level: A leader will look out for their team. They will take a caring approach that promotes loyalty, trust, and productivity.
Military Principle 4: Keep Your Marines Informed
  • On a Civilian Level: A leader will keep their team abreast of the latest developments. This approach will make employees feel more valued. It will eliminate repetitive actions and boost productivity.
Military Principle 5: Set the Example
  • On a Civilian Level: Don’t expect your team to display exemplary behavior unless you show it yourself.
Military Principle 6: Ensure the Task is Understood, Supervised, and Accomplished
  • On a Civilian Level: A good leader will be there for their team from the beginning to the end. They will ensure employees have a solid grasp of the task at hand. They will supervise them to ensure assignments are completed without micromanaging.
Military Principle 7: Train Your Marines as a team
  • On a Civilian Level: Due to different positions within teams, training may require one on one time with different employees. While this differs from military training, which has a more uniform approach, the idea of training employees as a team carries over. It promotes a sense of unity which is important in leadership.
Military Principle 8: Make Sound and Timely Decisions
  • On a Civilian Level: A leader must be ready to think on their feet and make smart decisions promptly.
Military Principle 9: Develop a Sense of Responsibility Among Your Subordinates
  • On a Civilian Level: Although leaders are encouraged to treat their team as equals on many levels, they should promote a sense of responsibility when it comes to meeting deadlines and achieving goals.
Military Principle 10: Employ your Command By its Capabilities
  • On a Civilian Level: Leaders must be aware of their team member’s capabilities and assign tasks they feel they will excel at.
Military Principle 11: Seek Responsibility and Take Responsibility for Your Actions
  • On a Civilian Level: Leaders should be accountable for their actions and admit when they are wrong. This will help promote loyalty in the workplace. It will set an example for those around them.

Military vs. Civilian Leadership

Military experience can go far in helping you become an effective leader, Armando Poeta says, but there are key differences to note when comparing it to civilian life. For one, the military style of leadership is more directive, rigid and task-oriented. This is mainly because a danger to life and property is involved which is not typically the case in the private sector.

There’s also less flexibility in the military leadership approach. In civilian life, the background of each individual is considered when determining the tasks they will be assigned and how best to complete them. In the military, all soldiers in a unit are guided with the same approach and must complete the same assignments.

The goal of military and civilian leadership also differs. Civilian leadership focuses on ROI, i.e., how much of a return on investment the company or individual will be seeing from a certain task or process. In the military, different goals such as self-improvement and protecting others come into play.

Armando Poeta on future of aviation
How the Military helps you become an effective leader

Armando Poeta thinks that, despite differences in military and civilian leadership, the principles are highly adaptable to one another. A good military leader can easily become a trusted authority in civilian life. The valuable lessons translate to encourage powerful results over a wide range of applications.

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