The way you learn is the way we do business.


   The way you learn is the way we do business.

10 Things The Army Taught Me About Business: Leaders Never Eat First

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Rick Stockburger


10 Things The Army Taught Me About Business


Leadership is a subject that has always been extremely important to me.  As a United States Army Infantryman and a non-commissioned officer, I served in combat zones and learned amazing leadership lessons that relate well to my civilian career now. Infantrymen have a tendency to joke that when we "get out", we will have attained no skill set from our Army training days; at least no skills that will relate to civilian careers. I am truly amazing with a rifle at 300 meters (my designated marksmen might disagree with that) and the way I learned to apply corrective action in the army, is not an acceptable method in most human resources departments.


As I have now set out to change the world, I realize that I could not have been more wrong about what I learned.   The Army had trained me to be a leader that could overcome any obstacle. Even though it is not the Army's motto, I have always been envious of the United States Navy Seabee's motto; I take it to work with me each and everyday.


"Can do.  With willing hearts and skillful hands; the difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a bit longer.  With compassion for others we build, we fight, for peace with freedom."


This series will highlight the top 10 lessons I took from the battlefield to the office. I wholly attribute these various tactics to my success.


 Leaders Never Eat First


Sounds simple enough. In the Army, as a Non-Commissioned Officer, I was taught that I did not eat until the people I was in charge of had eaten. At the time I thought "Oh, that's just how it is" (that sums up the Army for you) but then I realized that even such a simple action could have great implications.


Quite simply, it shows you care. The most basic of human needs is to consume food for nourishment and by making sure everyone else is nourished before you, shows that you completely "have your employees back"; In turn, they will have yours as well. Making sure everyone has taken lunch will show that you place their welfare above the company's and even your own welfare. This notion is going to take you far as a leader.


If you put your employees first in every aspect of your business, how well do you think your employees will perform for you? If they truly believe in your dedication to them, won't they want to be just as dedicated to the business? Put another way, given every opportunity to succeed and seeing that you are looking out for them, will in turn give those people the motivation and desire to do great things for you!


Social interaction is not 1+1=2. It is 1+1=Unimaginable.


There is no algorithm for the collaboration that goes on between workers. As the leaders, we are asked to perform at a higher standard and to set an example for those that work for us. Leadership is not a role for the weak willed or faint of heart, but rather a place to put your employee's needs in front of your own. If you can appeal to a basic level of trust, the greatness you and your future leaders can achieve is unimaginable.




We have the opportunity to buck the trend of executives who are getting massive corporate bonuses while everyone else grinds away long hours for measly pay.  Now is the time that we can start looking out for our employees first. If they could only eat first we would accomplish so much more, together!


It's important to note that respect is a two way street and you, my friends, have just turned the flashing yellow light to green.


Questions to ask yourself:


Is my team ready to take on the next project?


When it gets tough can I count on them to pull through together?



Working with the German Army in Afghanistan!

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