Skills, leadership and ex-military talent

CREDIT: Defence Imagery

CREDIT: Defence Imagery

Skills, leadership and ex-military talent

Hardly a week goes by without skills shortages in the UK economy hitting the headlines, which are predicted only to grow as a result of Brexit and other significant economic events.

Another common theme in the news recently is the importance of building leadership development to support the growth of businesses. But what could solve both these problems? The ex-military talent pool.

Unique skills of ex-military talent

As a former officer in the British Army for 10 years and working as a leadership mentor and performance coach now, I know a thing or two about the unique, adaptable and transferable skills of ex-military personnel, how they can add value to a business, how they make outstanding leaders - and how they can help plug skills gaps across a number of industries.

Leaders deliver by inspiring others

My work is based on the belief that a leader's job is to deliver the results and to look after the people that they have the privilege and responsibility to lead. I truly believe that organisations thrive when leaders create an environment in which people feel inspired to give their very best, whilst going home at the end of the day feeling valued and supported.

My military service means that I had a fairly unique leadership journey in so much as my job has always been that of a leader. Most leaders in the corporate world start out as a functional experts and then develop into a leader. This often means that they find it hard to let go of the doing and focus on being a leader.

Identifying the ex-military skills your business needs

There are many things that business can learn from the military and seek to replicate. Equally, there are some things that simply cannot be applied to the corporate world. I believe the skill is in knowing what will work straight off the shelf, what must be adapted and what shouldn’t be taken into the world of business.

Why ex-military personnel make good leaders

Quite simply because they have all been trained in leadership and they understand the fundamentals of leadership.

Above all else, they have the drive to deliver the results that are required, but will do so whilst looking after and supporting the team. Military leaders also tend to have the ability to pause, step back and make a plan when things are getting a little chaotic shall we say!

A growth mindset leads to business growth

I believe what makes ex-military personnel more competitive is they tend to have a growth mindset. By that I mean, they are always open to learning new things, considering different approaches and striving to be the best that they can possibly be.

It’s also true that they tend to be very confident, in some this can tend towards arrogance, but beneath this I believe in the most part they do possess a strong growth mindset and are open to learning.

Ex-military talent seeks business opportunities

There are a huge number of skills gaps within a number of industries across the UK, cyber, construction, engineering to name but a few. Ex-military personnel could play a vital part in helping plug these skills gaps if businesses look to this talent pool and their unique skills and attributes.

They can help close these skills gaps because of their adaptability and growth mindset. Plus the military is becoming increasingly technological focused. There are many technologies that were either developed by the military, for the military or where the military were the early adopters.

Ex-military skills match key business problems

To put it simply, ex-military personnel can bring so much to the table. A huge amount of leadership. They are solid team players who will ensure that the results are delivered. Alongside that, they tend to be very resilient and adaptable.

And as I said earlier, there are many things that business can learn from the military and seek to replicate.


Ben Morley is a consultant and trainer for SMJ Consulting Services. To find out how Ben can help you, click here.