How can an ex-military leader add to my organisation’s leadership?


You might be concerned that if you were to employ an ex Armed Forces leader, you may end up with someone who shouts at others or barks orders at their team. However, that is not what modern military leadership is about. If you were to see military leaders operating, you would see their adaptable leadership styles that are based on trust, empathy and loyalty. You may even recognise it as intent based leadership.

The UK Armed Forces invests tens of thousands of pounds to develop individual leaders over the course of someone’s career. Most of the training takes place immediately before or close after someone has taken up the relevant appointment. So military leaders then get to practice what they’ve learnt. But how does leading soldiers on a battlefield, sailors at sea or aircrew operating airfields translate to leading in the boardroom?

Over a series of articles, we demonstrate the overlap between military leadership and business leadership. This can relate to the private, public or charitable sectors. We’ve based this series on the 10 Principles of War. These principles are taught to all military leaders and refreshed at every stage of their career and seniority. Don’t be put off by the militaristic language; you’ll see many comparators to business leadership as we delve into what those principles mean in practice.


The first article explores the first two principles of war, selection and maintenance of the aim and maintenance of morale. You could easily call them identification of and focus on objectives and employee engagement.

The second looks at offensive action and concentration of force. You could instead referred to these as taking the initiative or being proactive and concentration of resources.

The third in the series investigates three principles: security, surprise and cooperation. Not much translation needed for these terms perhaps.

The final article explores the final three principles of economy of effort, flexibility and sustainability.


In each of these articles, you can see that military leadership really isn’t that different to what civilian businesses and organisations require. These principles, albeit with military focused terminology translate, almost seamlessly into civilian organisations. So if you’re looking to recruit new leaders for your organisation, consider ex-military leaders. They won’t be barking orders and marching your employees round the office, we promise. They will be displaying emotional intelligence, commercial acumen and practical decision making. Talk to us for more information.