Military to Business Leadership

Lessons from a Veteran

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There are over 1.3 million people currently serving in the United States Armed Forces, all of whom are volunteers. There are so many leadership lessons we can learn from military leaders and officers, including chain of command, trust, what it means to be a true team in every sense of the word, and decision-making.

There have also been books written by, for, and about military leaders throughout history. From Sun Tzu’s 1953 The Art of War to Colin Powell’s 1995 My American Journey to Be. Know. Do., a Jossey-Bass educational leadership book adapted from the Official Army Leadership Manual.

I recently read a new entry in this military leadership-turned-corporate genre. Do, Move and Communicate is a book from 12-year military veteran Joe Homan, who borrowed from his military training and the concept of “shoot, move, and communicate” to apply his leadership lessons to the corporate world.

I have never served in the military, but after Joe’s book popped up during my research for my own company while I was looking for new ways to complete the same projects, I decided to look further into Joe Homan and his ideas.

This book had been out for about a year, though I just found it a couple of weeks ago. It was recommended to me by a close friend who has a successful business. When he told me to check it out, I wasn’t so sure. I am a solo entrepreneur, what could I possibly need with military leadership skills?

But Homan writes eloquently about having a clear direction for your business, being able to effectively communicate with people on and off your team, and then discusses the good execution of plans in a way that I appreciate. He is very straightforward and clear about what he is trying to do and how he wants you to be able to implement this way of thinking.

I’m not going to rehash the entire book here, but suffice it to say that even as a one-person solopreneur, I still work with a lot of vendors, such as book cover designers, interior formatters, my client’s team members, public relations people, other writers, and my clients themselves. In many ways, I am running multiple teams, not just one team with one clear goal.

“The US military, despite its size, is able to move massive amounts of people and equipment in a very efficient way. It may not seem so to the outside observer because there are so many facets and the efforts are so large, but if you utilize their concepts, you will find that few things can derail your team.” -Joe Homan

The way Homan discusses flexible directional focus and HOW to have flawless execution brought me to a stop. I can totally use this. I need to be a leader, not to myself as a one-woman show, but for all the projects I manage for my clients and how we deal with vendors and create plans and execute on them.

I’ve read a lot of books since starting my business a year ago, and they have all helped me craft or refine a different part of my enterprise. Marshall Goldsmith’s Learning Journeys showed me a behind-the-scenes view of famous great leaders and their decision-making process and even some failures. Joe Sweeney’s Networking is a Contact Sport made me look at people and business relationships in an entirely new way. Dave Kerpen’s The Art of People kept me on the path of using customer service and being easy to work with to build my business faster and retain clients for longer.

I have found that reading and being open to learning through other people’s experiences have been the single best way for me to refine my business and grow as a leader. Joe Homan’s Do, Move and Communicate is the most recent book to be added to my growing list of influencers.

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