There is clearly a crisis of leadership in most company and organizational structures; a lack of that which represents true leadership in business. Current hiring practices, as they are trending in the last decade, screen out all but the generic, cardboard cut-out conformists. Likewise, the utilization of psychometric testing has the same objective: to identify a cross-sampling of the “right kind of people” which, whether it was intended or not conveys to innovators, outside-the-box thinkers and stand-apart leadership types that they need not apply.
Universities don’t develop leaders, it isn’t their function and campus activism isn’t analogous with leadership, in case you needed clarification. Institutions of learning might provide courses in leadership that may identify what leadership is, but this doesn’t produce or develop leaders. Same for most MBA programs in which the operative words, when it comes to Master of Business Administration, is management and administration. By the way, the terms management and leadership are not synonymous; telling people what to do is not emblematic of leadership qualities. There are a lot of managers who think they possess leadership qualities, many of them have Jack Welch’s books displayed for all to see; props that most of them have never read. With regard to company managers, most are preoccupied with self-preservation and maintaining the status quo than they are developing talent around them, preferring instead to surround themselves with yes men and women who won’t challenge them.
Yeah sure, there are people who rise to a challenge and can become fine managers, but they are increasingly fewer. However, there is still a place, an institution where real leadership skills and abilities can be found with predictably higher frequency; an environment of true equal opportunity, of shared risk and mutual respect, a place where developing such people is both a priority and necessity. I am, of course, referring to the under-appreciated, under-valued and under-utilized resource of military veterans. Granted, not every veteran is a leader, but a good many are. In fact, military veterans from most nations possess the very traits that many corporate and organizational structures lack and need - increased self-discipline and organizational skills, to name just two.
Meanwhile, spending company money on goofy and contrived “team-building” weekends, running obstacle courses or walking on hot burning coals, with lots of high-fives, is a bad joke and in this veteran’s opinion, a waste of money and a poor substitute resulting in very little to show for it.