What The Army Can Teach Your Business

U.S. Soldier hand out food and water in Haiti

What The Army Can Teach Your Business

Although people who enter the Army have the ability to select from a wide variety of demanding career paths ranging from chemical engineer specialists to members of the marching band, many people don’t immediately associate Army with many of the challenges faced in the corporate world. Keep reading to learn about a few principles that Army recruits are taught within the first few days of training and throughout their careers that translate well to business.

Acting Ethically Under Pressure

Since many of the Army's training programs require people to work with weapons in a responsible manner, the Army places particular importance on teaching soldiers how to respond properly in extremely high pressure environments. Although soldiers have to make decisions that have greater stakes than many of us will ever have to deal with, there are some common dilemmas.

In a war zone, soldiers have to evaluate matters despite a lack of information, a shortage of time and the knowledge that the ultimate decision could have severe consequences. The same is true for some members of the corporate world, and although those decisions are often not life-and-death matters, acting hurriedly could have severe consequences for the prosperity of a business. Plus a lack of information and time is common whenever it’s necessary for a business to capitalize on opportunities as quickly as possible to avoid the chance of a competitor seizing the moment first.

Teamwork is Essential

Stuart Yoak, the executive director of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, believes that the emphasis on teamwork is a big reason why the Army's programs are so successful. Army members learn that success is dependent on the actions of oneself, as well as other members of the corps. Everyone has the capacity to contribute and play a role.

In some cases, the corporate world has already taken these principles to heart by sending employees to team building exercise retreats where participants have to navigate through strange obstacle courses and do so by relying on others.

04-01-10 1971 Army Jeep Flatbed

Respecting the Worth of Integrity

Members of the military are frequently seen as selfless individuals, and often given great honors during the course of serving their country. Early on, members of the Army are taught that service comes above all else, and some experts believe that this principle drives soldiers to put themselves in harm's way. It's not about public perception as much as knowing that serving one's country means that a single person could be responsible for dozens of lives. However, sometimes the actions of soldiers take quickly come into the public spotlight, especially in times of war when media coverage is at an all-time high, too. It’s necessary for soldiers to realize that the world may be watching to see if they’re able to maintain integrity even in difficult situations.

A sense of integrity can also be instilled in members of corporations. Often, prolific corporations become integrated into local communities, and are frequently seen in the media, as well. Also, people who hold very high offices may be admired, or conversely, disliked around the world because of the way that they responded to particular scenarios. It's important to build a spirit of integrity in people at all levels of a company, because then it’s easier for that attitude to spread throughout employees simultaneously.

Clearly, there are many ties between concepts learned by Army members and practices that can help businesses. Try using the guidance above to spark discussions among members of the corporate world about what everyone can learn from the people who bravely serve their countries.

Jena Daniels is an avid blogger for business sites. Interested in learning more about running a successful business? You may be interested in looking at Pepperdine's online mba program.