Leadership lessons from the Battlefield

Published On: Nov 27, 2020Last Updated: Oct 14, 20233.1 min read

Globally, leaders are having to cope with dynamic situations that arise out of complex business scenarios. An increasing amount of information to cope with, along with globalization is a major challenge. In economies battered by the pandemic and changing work environments, flattened hierarchies, can the old hierarchical style of leadership cope? What should take it’s place?

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Recently a leading publication interviews retired Generals Mike Flynn and Stan McChrystal about their experiences on the battlefield – and the application of those lessons in business. Perhaps the meaning of competition can differ between business & military, but the goal of winning over the competition by applying a proper strategy and proper implementation are the same. Here are some of their leadership lessons from the battlefield:

1. Be there where it matters

Often, in businesses there is constant idea flow from customers, staff, vendors and other people we interact with. They can help increase it or decrease. Many times the organization is divided into silos because of less interaction. If you are sitting at the same desk every day and dealing with the same set of people, new perspectives and innovative solutions just will not come. Disrupt patterns, try new arrangements and things. Constancy and habit can cancel the potential for any opportunity to evolve, and location is a major determinant of this. Peter Drucker calls this “managing by walking around.” Location can make a major difference.

2. Take time to make Decisions

As information grows exponentially by the hour, decisions are becoming more complex in today’s 24×7 world. Ironically, your success is the sum total of all the decisions you make. Thus you will be devoting much more time than earlier to analyse and collate the data to enable the right decision. So, commit more time in your schedule to take more time to make decisions. Block a specific slot in your calendar for moving ahead on this task. This will prevent catastrophic problems later and also yield due benefits in the longer run.

3. Clarity is King

Too many leaders forget the role of clarity in decision-making. The simple, focussed, clear and short brief or language is crucial to decision-making. This leaves little room for any confusion. As Jack Welch says, “strategy is not a lengthy action plan. It is the evolution of a central idea …” Thus if you cannot state your strategy in a sentence, then you probably do not have one. Ensure that whittle away all the non-essentials and stay focussed on stating the instructions clearly and briefly.

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4. Be open to Learning

A new employee, fresh out of college will have a limited view of the business because he does not have any practical experience. Once he moves up the chain, goes through the routines and learns the ropes, the perspective is widened with more exposure. The person will have more insight into the business and give a broader view, taking into consideration many other aspects of the business, market & circumstances. Thus it is important to keep on learning and remain open to newer situations & opportunities to add to one’s experience. Moving into a leadership slot means developing a much broader, all-encompassing view of the issues at hand.

5. Agility is important

It is not for nothing that Information is called the new oil! Information flashes across the globe in matter of seconds today, faster than ever before. The sheer speed and inter-connectivity of global partnerships today has created the need for a new ability – to stay competitive, businesses must adopt and adapt. This new ability is agility. In business, Agility is a company’s Agility is a company’s skill to identify and act upon new opportunities before the competition does.

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Swapan Dholakia
About the Author

Swapan Dholakia

Swapan Dholakia is a senior professional heading the Communications and Outreach at Legalwiz.in. His current interest areas are trade diplomacy,building synergies, and leveraging Communications to impact society & audiences at large.