The Competitive Advantages of Leadership & Teamwork

This is my second post on the competitive advantages military have over civilian applicants. Last time I wrote about the advantages of national service. This week will focus on two other areas of competitive advantage military leaders enjoy which are:
1) teamwork from the ground up;
2) get-it-done leadership.

It’s important to note, the competitive advantages I outline below do not involve my subjective opinion. They are based upon real feedback I have gotten from civilian recruiters during the past ten years. Please keep in mind that these are advantages you have as a group of military leaders relative to peer groups of civilian professionals. It might be apparent that you enjoy these attributes, but reading my post is a good review and will help you translate these skills to civilian recruiters.

In the military, these skills represent two sides of the same coin. That is, teams have leaders and leaders have teams. You know about leadership and teamwork because you learned both in the military by exercising such skills in daily life/death situations and dealing with real life outcomes.

You acquired leadership at a young age, which is the time of your life when such skills ‘stick’. They define you and become an important and formative part of who you are. You don’t have to learn leadership at the age of 28 in MBA school or from a leadership development program by a civilian employer. You come equipped with leadership and can use leadership to inspire others in your cohort or department.

Leaders in the military have a mission they execute to accomplish as part of a team. The purpose isn’t to lead just to say you’re a leader, it has a purpose which is to get the job done. If a key civilian recruiter doesn’t understand this, respectfully direct them to read pages 25-28 on Commander’s Intent in the book “Made to Stick”. It provides a convenient overview and will weave the importance of clear communications and adaptability into what makes leadership your competitive advantage.

As you know, there are many teams in military. However, this is not always obvious to civilian recruiters. So you must talk about teams in the context of branches, divisions, units and formations; brigades and battalions; fleets, squadrons and stations and special forces. When talking teamwork be careful you don’t get pulled into military speak.

Only use military jargon briefly and to explain why these skills represent competitive advantages. Teams represent the basic organizational building blocks of the military just as they should any civilian organization where people are involved.

When you talk team, it’s also important to mention that the military is most diverse employer in the world.  This will dispel any misleading stereotypes and reassure recruiters that you can work with in any environment with all types of people. No one is left behind. That’s why teamwork is from the ground up.

Get-it-done leadership and teamwork from the ground up define military applicants. Along with national service, they form the triad of your competitive advantages compared with your civilian counterparts.

Next week, I’ll move into two other topics which will help you be an effective applicant in your transition out of the military. Have a great week and, if you see value in it, please tell all of your buddies about this blog.

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