"Always do everything you ask of those you command!"

The armed forces as an institution have always been known for their rich culture and history. The armed forces are known for fighting against the odds and emerging victorious. How do they manage that? The pandemic has shifted the world dynamics, and the leadership styles being followed until now, no longer hold relevance.


In a world where the employees are more self-aware, being a good leader can be a challenge for the managers because any slip up might blow things out of proportion, as observed in the incident involving Better.com CEO Vishal Garg.


 “When something is important enough you do it even when the odds are not in your favour” -Elon Musk

Let us look at the lessons one can learn from the armed forces to become a better manager.


1. The VUCA Concept: VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) is more than just a management abbreviation for describing the nature of the business environment. The concept was developed by the students of the U.S. Army War College for the working conditions of the armed forces. But today, it is a critical part of the strategies of several organisations and, its importance after the pandemic has only increased.


2. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Life is a big journey and when we start sweating the small stuff and focusing on the things that didn’t go our way, we lose our energy and focus. This prevents us from focusing on the bigger issues or challenges at hand. So, it becomes imperative to learn how to let go of the past and focus on the next step because being stuck up won’t help.

3. It is always one for all and all for one: Right from the academy days, it is drilled into the mindset of the cadets that there is no room for individual gladiators in the organisation and it is always the team effort that will hold importance. That’s why when one makes a mistake the whole course/batch pays for that mistake. A beautiful way to reinforce the fact that “Alone we can do so little but together we can do so much.”

4. The only easy day was yesterday: We always look for ways to avoid discomfort and pain, however by doing this we often do more harm than good because life is unpredictable and it will throw a new curveball at us every single day, so whether one likes it or not, we would always have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and sooner we accept that, the easier it becomes. 

5.  If you are prepared to adapt & learn, you can transform: The aura of the officers of the armed forces always has us enamoured. But how does that happen? 

A one-word answer would be adaptability. From the moment a person steps into the academy, their sense of self and ego is broken down from the first day itself. They are built back, throughout training bit by bit into men of calibre.

6. If you want to eat an elephant. Take one bite at a time: Simply put, if one wants to accomplish a large goal, then the goal should be broken down into smaller cumulative tasks. Frequently, we dream of big goals and hope to achieve these goals as soon as possible. However, we tend to forget that the larger goal is a part of several smaller goals and to realize the larger goal, the smaller goals need to be achieved. 

7.  Focus on the present and be accountable: We often think that we would wake up tomorrow and go for that morning run, or study for that exam a month from now but, that doesn’t happen in a single day. In the armed forces, living in the moment and being accountable for your actions are perhaps the most fundamental of values. The job by its very nature is unpredictable. No one knows what will happen in the next moment and if there is no accountability then it will be chaos.

8. The Chetwode Motto: “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.”- are the words taught time and again to the gentleman cadets training at the IMA, Dehradun. The statement re-iterates how being selfless will always be an integral part of being a leader.

“It’s all mind over matter, if I don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter.”

Posted in : Leadership 
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