Military Leadership- Ben Brooks- Selfless Service

After a long week of battling exams I thought I would take our mind off of school and focus again on one of our amazing classmates.  We learned from Sean Bode in our last Military Leadership post about Integrity.  This time Ben Brooks shares how he has applied lessons from his time in the Army to his current civilian consulting job.  Ben focuses on communication and planning as skills that he has, but also shared a great insight into a value that is much sought after in the public sector but hard to achieve….Selfless Service.

Ben’s story reminded me of a great article written by the Harvard Business Review focusing on Footlocker’s CEO.  Ken Hicks graduated from the US Military Academy and served six years active duty in the Army before he joined the retail world.  Just as Ben has, Ken Hicks highlights the importance of valuing people’s service at all levels to achieve a strategic goal.  He points out that when leaders at an executive level show respect for and involve the frontline, these employees respond with the same self-sacrifice to work harder and deliver results.

Ken says in the article, “In retail and the military, you’re very dependent on the people at the front or the selling floor. You realize how important the sale associate is. It’s the same thing in the army; you’re very dependent on your privates and specialists, and so you talk with them and learn from them. Six or eight months after I’d left J.C. Penney’s, I was in a Penney’s store looking at some merchandise, and an associate recognized me and came running across the floor to say hello. She remembered me because I’d treated her with respect and listened to her. That’s what you have to do to inspire people. The people on the selling floor, just like the cannoneers, the gunners, and the infantry, are the ones who make everything happen.”

As you can see from Ben Brooks’ article here, he’s clearly learned the same lessons and is applying them towards his own bright future.

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Military Leadership- Sean Bode- Integrity

Term 1 in Shanghai was full of introductions.  We practiced our elevator speech at least 156 times during those first few days.  Name, industry, hometown, and don’t forget to say how happy you are to get your Duke degree to pursue X dream.  That first week I remember forming a broad idea of the demographics in our class and being impressed by how many current or former military service men and women are in our class.  Since then we’ve had the privilege of getting to know each of them a little bit better.

For those who have left the service many are looking at the MBA as a way to advance in their new civilian career.  For those still serving, they’re looking at the MBA as a way to position them for a transition.  I have heard several currently serving members say that all this business stuff is brand new and foreign to them.

Well, that may be true.  Talking in terms of cultural dimensions or learning the Excel formula of the week is enough to keep even the most seasoned business professional on their toes.  Throw in a Schipper final exam and Statistics Online Test #4 and you have yourself a field day in MBA lingo.

But really, everyone in our class is very gifted and has something to bring to the boardroom.  Duke recognized that and it won’t be very long before the business world does as well.

So in addition to thanking each of the service men and women in our program for their bravery and sacrifice, I am launching this series to show how military leadership is changing the business world.  Along with the research I’ll share, several of our emerging leaders have answered a few questions to share about their own experience and the leadership skills they’ve learned through their service.

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