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Every day we go to work. Go In. Go out. At face value, it appears that we are just doing the same activity, day after day. To make each day truly special at work, I look to demonstrate quietly my military values in the workplace each day.
I learned the value of quiet demonstration at all places: the rifle range. As a young Infantry 2nd Lieutenant (the famed “Butter Bar”), I sought out the Soldier who talked about shooting the most. Guess what, my shooting did not improve. The next time at the range, I looked at the targets first. I discovered a quiet, older non-commissioned officer towards the end of the range who was patiently helping others to shoot better. A lot better. He performed his task with humility, respect, integrity, and without equal. I learned a lot about how to be great in the workplace that day at the rifle range.
Military Values @ Work Lesson #1 – Respect. The Harvard Business Review released a study a few weeks ago that found Respect was the most valued leadership trait of a business leader. Not revenue generation, finance, or innovation. Leaders who treated their peers, subordinates and superiors with respect were the people that others most wanted to follow. In the military, I saw the leaders that treated the junior Soldiers with the same level of respect as a General / Flag Officer were the ones I wanted to follow.
Military Values @ Work Lesson #2 – Humility. Do you talk about it or do you do it? A simple question that really tells more about you in the workplace than anything else. Humility is doing your job and helping others do theirs without expecting immediate reward or recognition. Period. In the military, remember the person that took the machine gun at mile 20 of a 25-mile road march? That is humility. Humility helps in the workplace because the focus remains on the work and not on the person.
Military Values @ Work Lesson #3 – Honesty & Integrity. Honesty is telling the truth and Integrity is acting in a consistent, truthful manner. We need honesty and integrity in the workplace because organizations can only improve, innovate, and create when problems are clearly, plainly, and specifically stated. We cannot improve if we cannot have an honest, open, and insightful conversation about what needs to be done. I clearly remember honest conversations in Iraq with my Group Commander where he demanded honesty; because that was the only way, we were going to improve.
Military Values @ Work Lesson #4 – Mission First & People Always. I love this quote from the U.S. Army because it perfectly balances that we must always be present and focused on what we are here to do: accomplish the mission. It also clearly recognizes that the mission will never be accomplished unless we develop, lead, and appreciate the very people accomplishing the mission. Mission accomplishment and caring for the team go hand in hand.
Military Values @ Work Lesson #5 – Good Humored Adaptability. Humor and change go hand-in-hand in the military, no matter what branch of service. No one in the military ever woke up and accomplished precisely what the plan dictated. Weather, resources, mission changes, enemy forces, and local populations are all changing constantly which demand that plans adapt and change. Military members embrace these changes with a good nature, humor, and initiative that is a compelling leadership trait. Business is no different – competitors take actions, resource allocations change, markets shift, and people’s purchase preference change. The point is to adapt quickly, confidently, and with a good disposition to the changes.
Military skills are invaluable at work. Military skills are the most valued at work when we seek to individually demonstrate them in a manner that is respectful, humble, honest, places the mission of the organization first, and uses good-natured humor to adapt. Every day, I rarely talk at all about my military background. I show my military values in the workplace to make a difference to employees, customers, and the future of my company.
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About the blogger:
Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
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