My Secret Military Leadership Advice

I’ve been very fortunate to have a few great mentors during my military career.

Although I learned many valuable leadership lessons during my 15+ years of military service, there are two leadership tips that really stand out.

So, what are those two things?

1. Think High Standards

2. Think Progress, Not Perfection

I first learned these two ideas from the book “The Magic of Thinking Big.”

That book changed by life.

And if you haven’t read it already, you should. I also validated these lessons by watching my successful leaders.

In the paragraphs below, I will explain more about each concept in greater detail.

Think High Standards: Do you hold yourself to high standards, even when no one else is around?

Do you hold your followers to high standards?

Or, are you one of those folks who always tries to do the bare minimum?

Personally, I’ve found that the best leaders hold themselves and their followers to very high standards.

They strive for the maximum, not the minimum.

More importantly, they hold themselves to high standards in EVERYTHING that they do.

This includes their personal finances, relationships, fitness, work, discipline, attitude and professional development.

You have to remember that everything you do is a reflection of you.

Your fitness level is a reflection of your personal standards.

The cleanliness of your office is a reflection of your standards.

Also, the appearance, attitude and discipline of your followers are a reflection of your standards.

And, the way you run meetings is a reflection of your standards.

What you do when your boss isn’t around is a reflection of your standards.

How you treat your subordinates is a reflection of your standards.

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One of the best things you can do is RAISE your standards.

Strive to be the best.

Be disciplined.

Maintain a professional appearance, demeanor and attitude.

Lead from the front and set high standards for yourself, and your followers.

Consider the Army Standards the bare bones minimum.

Use it as your baseline and set your own standards above and beyond the Army Standards.

Just doing this will have a MAJOR positive impact in your work and home life.

Think Progress: The second thing you can do to be a better leader is to think PROGRESS, not perfection.

Make it a point to get a little bit better each day.

Realize that we are all human beings and are imperfect by nature.

But, we can all IMPROVE.

We can all develop our skills and be better tomorrow than we were today.

The best leaders simply try to make their unit, section and followers a little bit better today, than they were yesterday.

If you keep making progress every day, you will be amazed at how much improvement you could make, even if a few short months.

Before you finish your work day each day, ask yourself if you are a little bit better today than you were yesterday.

If you aren’t, make sure you do something before you go home, so you are a little bit better.

I truly believe that bad soldiers and bad units could do a complete 180 transformation if their leaders understood the importance of having high standards and tried to get a little bit better each day.

It’s worked for me and I know it can work for you.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the best military leaders set high standards and focus on progress, not perfection.

This is a very simple and effective way to improve your leadership skills and performance.

I hope that helps.

What do you think?

Do you follow these concepts now?

Leave a comment and let me know.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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2 thoughts on “My Secret Military Leadership Advice”

  1. In conjunction with this article try to remember there will always be setbacks. No matter how well you plan something will always go wrong. You just need to roll with the punches and come up with a new plan and implement that. A stagnant leader is a bad leader.

  2. The advice about progress not perfection is very compelling. Small improvements on a daily basis, whether personal, for the unit, for our family or for any work are really what will get us to being better and more prepared over all. What is that old saying? Rome was not built in a day?

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