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Business and Military Thinking

Written by on 08 September 2010

Business and military thinking

For many years both business and academic literature have been fascinated with military matters. This can range from military leaders, military campaign or military strategy that have been employed by leaders.

Business literature

A quick scan of any business executive’s office bookcase will often reveal valuable insight as to their background and perspective on business. For many years books such as Sun Tze “The Art of War” or Niccolo Machiavelli “The Prince” have been on business courses required reading lists and have provided valuable insight and some fresh thinking from accomplished generals and advisors. These texts have inspired and educated the professional business manager.

Why is Business Leadership important?

An ancient Assyria academic once write wrote “anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm” - Publilius Syrus (1st century BC). The last 100 years has seen increasing volatility with few of the largest companies in the world retaining their market leadership/position for more than a few, short years. Research by Cameron and Quinn (1999) in their book, “Diagnosing and Changing Organisational Culture”, found that, “of the largest 100 companies at the beginning of the 1900s, only 16 are still in existence. During the last decade, 46% of the Fortune 500 companies have dropped off the list”. This level of volatility may be surprising to many business practitioners but it is clear that the half-life of organisations is becoming shorter and shorter. Organisations must contentiously look for ways to renew themselves and the facilitation of this is a critical requirement of corporate leadership.

How much leadership training is needed to be a leader?

Business is increasingly placing a greater emphasis on business leadership. However, there is little support for effective selection and development of leadership within business. Professional business training and development provides a great deal of training for management but little to illuminate the leader.

How to become a business leader?

Sadly, for many organisations we still find the situation where individuals are selected and promoted on the basis of technical excellence and individual performance. We expect these same individuals to perform the role of leader with little or no training. This selection process of leadership in business has created a cohort of business executives with very little experience of organisational leadership!

Things to think about

It is critically important for organisations to understand themselves, what kind of organisation they are, what culture they have and most importantly, what kind of values they have. It is essential that organisations find leaders who reflect the core values of the overall organisation, provided that this is aligned with the market they serve.

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