In 2008, retailer Walmart was experiencing explosive growth – and a leadership crisis. There weren’t enough employees ready to take up management roles, and Walmart needed leaders ready to hit the ground running. Where could they find such individuals? CEO Bill Simon suggested that they recruit military officers to fill the void. It took just months to place these officers in positions at every level, effectively filling the leadership gap. So what made them so well suited for leadership? Their training made them step up to the task and get things done… It wasn’t that they had detailed expertise in Walmart products it was their ability to plan, lead teams and implement that allowed them to ‘fill the void’.
As someone who’s spent 17 years in the Australian Army, it’s my belief that military leadership has many compelling and effective lessons we can learn from. I may have left the army, but the lessons I’ve learnt regarding leadership are ones that I use to this day with business owners just like you.
At its core, an army functions as a collective. To get every member to buy into group actions, you need to get them to trust your judgement and think like you do. You can’t force it and you need to believe in your own leadership abilities if you want to successfully lead others. The better you lead yourself and your team, the better results you’ll get.
So what are some military leadership lessons that the average business leader can use to improve their networking? Here are two lessons I’ve personally applied to my networking, with great success.
Firstly, know what you want out of the process. Without ticking this box, you’ll never get potential partners to connect with you, you’ll never get people to follow your plan and you will not achieve the outcomes you want. Much like in the army, actions without objectives don’t create results. To excel at networking, you need to be clear on the results you want and the plan on how you are going to achieve it.
Secondly, you need to lead the conversation and the process. This means steering the conversation and including everyone. In an army, you can’t expect your team to perform a certain way if you can’t set the pace by doing it yourself and showing the way. Deep down, people want to be led by someone who is confident in achieving congruent wins and outcomes. If you can show people you are networking with the opportunities and the benefit of what you do and they really ‘buy-in’ to it, they will follow you and your business.
These are just two military lessons I’ve learnt that can be applied to improving your networking. I’ll be sharing some of my biggest Leadership Lessons that are relevant for Entrepreneurs at our next Business Breakfast on May 3rd at Bond University. If you’ve never attended one before, now’s the perfect time to book your attendance!