Wednesday, 25 May 2016

“The CEOs with Military Background and Leadership Development Training Programs” ―Professor M.S.Rao

“The best CEOs I know are teachers, and at the core of what they teach is strategy.” ― Michael Porter

There are some CEOs who are passionate about building next generation of leaders. They walked their talk and shared their knowledge through teaching and training programs to their employees. The list of such CEOs includes Jack Welch of General Electric, Roger A. Enrico and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo. Roger Enrico became a leadership educator after leaving as CEO. It is obvious that leaders build leaders, not followers.  Similarly, there are some military officers who became successful CEOs. It shows the significance of military training to become successful leaders and CEOs.

When CEOs are directly involved in training and grooming their employees as leaders, the employees become more engaged and loyal to their organizations. It also conveys a strong message to the senior management that the organization is committed to developing its employees as leaders. The brand image of the company goes north direction. Hence, CEOs must involve in leadership development training programs directly as it indicates company’s commitment to learning and development.  Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric (GE) walked his talk. He had a vision and was passionate about sharing his knowledge and building leaders. Hence, CEOs must demonstrate their vision, passion and commitment to leadership development training programs.

Advantages of Leadership Development Training Programs

There are several advantages associated with leadership development training programs. They update the knowledge, skills and abilities of employees. They enhance employees’ performance and productivity to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness. They improve the image and brand of the organizations. They keep the leadership pipeline ready to enable the second rung of leaders to be ready to take over senior leadership positions in case of any eventuality.

CEOs with Military Background

When you observe CEOs such as Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson; Robert A. McDonald  of Proctor and Gamble; Robert Myers of Casey’s General Store; James A. Skinner of Walgreens; Herb Vest of H.D. Vest; Richard Kinder of Kinder Morgan; Ken Hicks of FootLocker; Sumner Redstone of Viacom; Daniel Akerson of General Motors; Clayton M. Jones of Rockwell Collins;  Tom Dent of Lumetra; Lowell McAdam of Verizon;  James Mulva of ConocoPhillips; Robert J. Stevens of Lockheed Martin; Frederick W. Smith of FedEx, it is obvious that they all came from military background.

Does Military Training Make Better Leaders?

The military training equips soldiers with several qualities such as leadership, emotional intelligence, team building, communication skills, confidence, adaptability and fraternity. Since the soldiers work on under grueling conditions, they excel as strong leaders. In fact, testing times make them as tough leaders. They are filled with energy and enthusiasm with a heart to serve others. They are strategic thinkers, trustworthy, risk takers, learn lessons from failures, and motivate others where there is no light at the end of the tunnel. They are highly focused hitting the bull’s eye. However, military leaders must develop flexibility to adjust with civilians. They are straightforward and often lack tact and diplomacy.

Although we cannot conclude that the CEOs with military background alone will succeed, the fact is that the military background is definitely an asset.  Hence, success rate of leaders and CEOs with military background is higher basically because they build trust in others and stick to their commitments. Additionally, their confidence and communication help them stand out from others.

Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs, founding chairman and CEO emeritus for Qualcomm once remarked, “A great leader must lead by example, not by fiat. He or she must set an example of integrity, of openness to new ideas, of understanding details as well as the larger picture, of communicating well, and of not shooting the messenger when a problem arises but helping find a solution.” Most of the military leaders possess these qualities thus becoming successful leaders and CEOs.

“Where visionaries can be good at persuasion, CEOs are good at wielding authority. Visionaries transcend organizations, resources, and current realities, while CEOs master them.” ― Bob Metcalfe

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Professor M.S.Rao, India
Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants India
Recipient of 10th International Prestigious Sardar Patel Award―2015

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