I have had the opportunity to work for and with a number of retired military generals who transitioned into industry during my career. Some have made the move relatively seamlessly and others it took a little more effort. Whenever I’ve had the opportunity, in a casual setting, I like to ask them, “What are the major differences you notice between leading major military operations and leading as a business executive?” As you might guess, the responses range from very insightful to rather bizarre.
The other evening, I had my first opportunity to ask the same question to a retired general from outside the United States. His answers were so insightful and honest I thought we all could learn from them. He said there were four main differences: 1) Decisions in the military tend to be more black and white:;2) The overall goal or mission is clearer to everyone in the military; 3) Teamwork is more natural and built into the military process; and 4) There is no runner up in a military operation! He shared that his role in business is to help instill these things within the business environment and gave some examples.
What do you think of these insights? Is there something we can all take from them?