#1 – Military Organizational Psychology

One of my most favorite things about my job is when I get to speak with potential hiring managers about the benefits of hiring transitioning service men and women.  The obvious advantages; loyalty, disciplined, accountability, etc., are traits most everyone seems to view as being more associated with veterans than the general public (See The American Veteran Experience and the Post-911 Generation paper issued by the Pew Research Center, September 10, 2019).  Inevitably, a comment or question comes up regarding the differences between a military organization versus a civilian organization and the perceived notion that military organizations perform by means of duress (aka a Drill Sergeant screaming) or an explicit top down approach to management (command and control).

While there is definitely some in “truth in advertising” when it comes to Basic Training (and even advanced individual training (AIT), for some) and fire breathing Drill Sergeants, the military is a professional organization with the colossal task of defending our nation’s interests against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Put simply, it means that 1.3 million people wake up every day performing 1.3 million individual tasks that collectively do the work it takes to train, house, feed, supply, move, manage, pay, provide medical care, connect, educate, recruit, etc. all in the effort to keep our country safe and independent. 

Recently, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Michael Phillips via Zoom as he lives in Germany (you’ll have to forgive the video quality below). When we first met, in 1985, I knew Michael as “Sergeant Phillips”, my platoon sergeant in what would be my very first permanent duty station with the Headquarters Company, 7th Engineer Brigade. Sgt. Phillips’ impact on my organizational management philosophy has followed me through my professional career. The simplicity of his philosophy (for which he credits the US Army) are so basic, it’s no wonder why the principles of Sgt. Phillips leadership are found throughout the functional organizations within the military.

At a high-level, here they are:

  • Clear communication – It’s a two-way street.  One of transmission and reception.  
  • Every person is equal and as important to the mission as the next – No favorites.
  • Accountability is never assigned with exclusivity or as an excuse – A leader is always accountable
  • Mission First, troops always.
  • Seek out opportunities to help others.
  • Celebrate achievement.

These principles transcend military-only organizations. In fact, the most productive and efficient groups I’ve worked with or seen in action, have been very good at incorporating these key concepts into their operational DNA.

Leaders who embody a servant mentality while motivating their teams to perform at the highest levels are transitioning out of the US Military on a daily basis and getting shit done. Most anyone new to a company will need to be trained on a variety of job-specific tasks or company process. Getting a built-in leader who can fast-track his or her way to high-performance/productivity is a competitive edge several companies (think IBM, Accenture, Microsoft) have figured out.

For more information on how to engage the Veteran workforce, give us a shout.  We’ll get you squared away.  

-Tim (tim@tangoalpha3.com)

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