Business is war: Leading from the Front

The comparison of business to the art of war is often made, drawing on the experience of dead generals to address commercial problems.

While there are some aspects of war that I would certainly not inflict upon my coworkers (e.g. slaughter, copious blood), I have often found these comparisons ring true.  In this post I will discuss how applying military thinking has helped my business succeed.

One of the key components of leadership is how you are perceived by your followers – are you a strong, confident person? Or are you shy and retiring, afraid of the fight?

Hard as it may be to believe, 10 years ago I was once very much in the former camp, at least in the eyes of my team.  I spent hours poring over the literature, desperate to discover what was lacking  It soon became clear to me – I was not leading from the front.

Being the first to enter the fray is an often-used way in which military figures gain respect from their soldiers, and I found the same to be true in business.

Instead of walking to meetings willy-nilly, I began to have my teams walk behind me, in formation. When sitting at a boardroom table, I would place my seat 2 feet in front of everyone elses. In all conversations I would make sure to have the first word, and never the last.  The results were remarkable.  I was suddenly spoken to differently, by both my team and my clients.  Where previously I had been a person, I was now a leader.

I quickly reorganized the whole way we did business. I placed my office at the front of the building, with all other desks behind mine. I installed an entrance such that I could walk in backwards, ensuring that I never have any member of my organisation behind me, always leading from the front. I haven’t seen any of my co-workers’ faces in years, and business is booming. If you lead from the front maybe yours will too.

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One thought on “Business is war: Leading from the Front

  1. […] As previously discussed, the Hardly Business Review is a strong proponent of war as a metaphor for the business world. In this post, our resident historian brings learnings from the First World War to your modern-day business […]

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