When it comes to leadership lessons, the military can be one of the best places to find them. Once a person becomes a part of the military, they gain various skills and perspectives that can be very valuable in their everyday life once they become a civilian. Former military personnel will have a lot of valuable knowledge and processes, which they have learned from experience, making them an indispensable part of any organization outside the military. And if you are a business owner or a team leader, it can be beneficial if you learn how to apply leadership lessons from the military into your organization. Here are eight military leadership lessons that drive success.

Lead by Example

One of the most important leadership lessons that you can acquire from the military is to lead by example. Leading your team means more than just telling them what to do. Lead with your actions and not with your words. To lead your team towards success and productivity, the action should start with you. Show them that as a leader, you are ready to do the work with them, to give them a picture of what can be achieved with hard work and perseverance. This way, when your team sees you working hard, they’ll think, “If he can do it, so can I.” Leading by example is about making it easy for your subordinates to follow you.

Understand Potential Risks

When running a business or leading a team, you should be ready to face possible problems along the way. Among the many leadership lessons that you can learn from the military is the importance of understanding potential risks. Keep in mind that the road to success is not an easy path. Before you and your team achieve your goals, you might have to go through a number of problems. And as a leader, it’s important that you are aware of these risks and you understand their effects. Letting your team know about these risks can also be helpful. This way, you can brainstorm or conduct a root cause analysis as a team. More than just leading your team towards success, it’s also important to lead them and work with them until you get past these hurdles.

Be Dependable

Military men

Dependability is a key trait and one of the many important lessons on leadership. As a leader, your team will always look up to you for directions. They will depend on you to lead them and guide them towards a specific goal. To be a dependable leader, you should know the value of commitment. This doesn’t mean you should say yes to everyone. Instead, you should manage your commitments properly and make sure that all the tasks that you or your team have pending are accomplished on time and as expected. To help you manage your commitments, having the right task management tools and strategies are important. A project management tool such as a Kanban board can come in very handy in helping you and your team accomplish all the tasks you have committed to. Moreover, valuing the time and efforts of other people is key to dependability.

Portfolio Kanban - Reduce Overburden - Improve Flow

Make Decisions

Among the most valuable leadership lessons that you can learn from the leaders in the military is the importance of decisiveness. A military leader is expected to make decisions swiftly, especially in the middle of a life and death situation. As a leader, you will come face to face with situations wherein you have to make tough decisions, not just for your own benefit, but for the benefit of your team, too. But not everyone has the mental toughness and capacity to make a decision ASAP. No matter what your decision making approach might be, what’s important is that you embrace the role of being a decision-maker.

Take Initiative

Skydiving Military Men 1024x682

Among the many leadership lessons that you can bring into a business, the ability to take initiative is very valuable. In the business world, those who take the initiative always get ahead. As a team leader, you are more than just a person who gives your team a direction. You are also expected to act, to go above and beyond the call of duty, and to always speak up and share your ideas. It helps to think as a part of a team and not just as an employee. 

At the same time, considering different opportunities that present itself is necessary. If you want your business to stay ahead of the game, it’s crucial that you think about what problems you can solve and what products or services you can create to solve these problems. This sort of initiative can help boost your name from being one of the industry players to being a brand leader.

Be Knowledgeable

Part of the essential lessons on leadership states that a leader should have the skills and knowledge necessary to lead the team. As a leader, you are expected to know a lot about your trade. You are not expected to know everything, but you should always have the initiative to learn what you should and to improve what you could. Being knowledgeable will help you improve your business operations and your team’s overall efficiency and productivity. It will also help you stay ahead of the game and prepare you for whatever obstacles you might have to face as a leader.

Take Responsibility

As a leader, you are always responsible for your team’s success. As one of the most practical lessons in leadership, taking responsibility takes on different forms. Being responsible means knowing the results of your actions and taking responsibility for the outcome. It means always looking after the welfare of your team and your business. It also means not pointing fingers and putting the blame on anyone else. No matter what your leadership or management style is or what decisions you may have made, you should keep in mind that you have a responsibility towards your business and subordinates.

Take Control of Your Mind and Emotions

Another way of integrating military leadership in business is by knowing how to take control of your mind and emotions. Indeed, it’s human nature to feel or think about all kinds of thoughts and emotions. But as a leader, you are expected to lead by example. And reacting immediately to situations without first knowing the full story about them can be a huge mistake. It’s important to always find the best way to respond to situations that trigger you. It helps to shift your attention or control the way you react. Instead of reacting immediately, focus instead on what is important and what you can control. 


No matter what line of business you are running, whether you are operating in the office or remotely, these military leadership lessons can help you become a better team and task manager. There is no such thing as a perfect leader, but you can be a great leader in your own way by applying these traits of leadership in the military and pairing them with the right business tools. And for the right business tools, consider using Kanban Zone. This virtual Kanban board can help you visualize your workflow and streamline your team management process to obtain optimal efficiency in your business.

No credit card. No contract. No risk.
Yes, it’s that easy to get into the Kanban Zone.

About the Author: Christine Joy Leal

Christine Joy Leal, Writer at Kanban Zone
Christine Joy Leal is an experienced freelance writer and content manager, a happy wife and a mother to two daughters, two dogs and two cats. She loves keeping things in order and enjoys using the Kanban and Agile methodologies to manage all her writing projects, daily tasks, and other personal matters that require efficient organization. Apart from managing her busy content writing career, she also enjoys board and online games, movies, TV shows, and crocheting. She also maintains a blog about her work as a freelance content writer.