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Leadership Lessons from the Military

It is Remembrance Day, a time to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices made by Canada’s armed forces.

Since hearing retired General Rick Hillier (former Chief of Defense Staff) at an Oakville Chamber of Commerce event and reading his book, I have also been reflecting on leadership lessons from the military. I also have a greater respect for those that have chosen a career serving in the Canadian Forces.

Two things impressed me immediately about General Hillier. First, his engaging sense of humour and secondly, his evident pride and commitment to the brave men and women that served under his command in the Canadian Forces. He built his career on getting the most from his troops and ensured they were trained, equipped and provided with great leadership to ensure success of their mission.

A soldier must unequivocally commit to two objectives:

1) accomplish the mission;

2) bring all your people back from the battlefield, whatever their condition.

Mission first, then team, then self. This same doctrine can be effectively applied to business leadership.

The November issue of Harvard Business Review is dedicated to leadership lessons from the military, “Extreme conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq have become a testing ground for adaptive management skills that every CEO should understand”.

So, not only can we gain an appreciation for courage and commitment, but we can also learn how to apply strategy and tactics to succeed in business and our mission.

The firm will place a wreath at the Burlington Cenotaph at 11:00 a.m. today. I encourage you to take a moment to reflect and remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for others.

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