Leadership is Ingrained in Vets
What many people don’t know is that the United States Marine has an average age of only 19. What? Yes, that Marine is incredibly young, but it still needs to be led. Who do you think is doing this? 19 year olds. By the time most people are twenty in the Marines (this goes for the other services, as well) they are already an NCO. This stands for Non-Commissioned-Officer. Don’t let the “Non” throw you off. What an NCO means is, “The guy in charge who will make my life Hell if I screw up,” or just as often, “the guy whose job it is to make sure I stay alive.” By the age of 20 some kids have already become technical experts in a professional field, are teachers to younger service-members and have led small teams in everything from shop operations to combat deployments.
By the time I was 22 I was a Sergeant in charge of a team of 13 other Marines. We were all occupying very technical jobs in the computer networking field and responsible for overseeing the maintenance and distribution of over $3 million dollars of Marine Corps property. You probably might think that that was a stupid investment on someone so young, but we pulled it off, with no fanfare I might add, and we did things like that all the time. It wasn’t until I received a degree in Business Management at 25, that the civilian world could trust me again with doing the same thing. I suppose, on the outside, people can’t be trusted with that kind of responsibility. Every day, though, vets do. The fact is that I could not have done this alone. I had those thirteen Marines who did the work and it was my job to coordinate. I had a very solid framework for leadership that include such gems as the Five Paragraph Order, Six Troop Leading steps, and the Thirteen Leadership Traits. These have become pivotal to my personal growth as a manager, teacher, and how I lead others. The military philosophies on the science of leading aren’t something that leave you. The military trains Service Members to lead by example. Skills like motivation and delegation are actually given time to be trained and implemented in the most hostile environments imaginable.
The military doesn’t just educate their members on the practical ways to manage behavior, such as the discipline and communication methods. Leadership is truly studied on the academic and theoretical level. More so than in other organization, this theoretical and practical leadership are put in practice as a matter of survival.
You want another note on leadership? In the military, no one can be fired, not at the bottom tiers at least. That means that you have to get the job done with the idiots God gave you. You are out there for seven to fourteen months with no replacements and just the same team along with all their problems. You have to train them, discipline them, correct them, counsel them and shape them, because you have no other choices. You didn’t even get to hire them. They were just assigned to you, more or less, at random. That is another reason why vets have such strong leadership skills. Could you honestly say that you could run a company the way the Marines do, with their success record, if you couldn’t even pick who gets hired and can’t even get rid of the ones who suck? You probably couldn’t, but the military does. Choosing team members and leaders who have proven they are able to do this means that you are choosing team members who are adaptable and know how to lead others.
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