Developing more leaders from the military

I have always believed that the military builds leadership skills that are valuable in many other contexts. Effective military leaders have to build strong teams that would function effectively in the most extreme situations using very little reliable information.

A popular perception of the military is that it is a hierarchical bureaucracy that provides few lessons for the rest of us. And to some extent it is true that the military is hierarchical because there must be some command and control, or else orders would go unheeded. But that’s the case with any company or organisation. Effective military organisations have recognised that they can only win battles and wars if their units are entrusted with information, resources and the space to make decisions in the proper context. These units will be the ones that respond the quickest to their fast-changing environments and deliver a decisive victory.

A Lieutenant General who spoke to the MBA 2011 class pointed out that the military, unlike many other organisations, places a very great emphasis on leadership development because it cannot bring in an outsider to lead. One does not engage a headhunter to recruit a General. Leadership development begins at the very lowest level because even a private manning a sentry post has to make decisions that could affect the security and safety of his camp. At the same time, a military leader has to instill a strong value system throughout the unit so that tough moral decisions can be made.

In recognition of the valuable contributions that military personnel can give to the Cambridge MBA, we are establishing a £10,000 bursary for one outstanding MBA candidate from a professional military background. Candidates who fit this profile should first apply to the Cambridge MBA and if accepted, they will be asked to write an essay for the bursary. The successful bursary recipient will give a talk to the Cambridge MBA when term starts.  

More information will be available on our website soon.

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2 Responses to Developing more leaders from the military

  1. Andy says:

    Conrad,

    It’s fantastic to see that military leadership skills are recognised. Unfortunately, people often underestimate how complex some of the problems are that have to be faced by military leaders. I have completed two tours of Afghanistan and mentoring Afghan soldiers is probably one of the most challenging things I have eve done. I think people often think we just run around shouting. Approaching counter-insurgency properly demands a high degree of intellectual ability.

    Following an injury on my last tour, I am looking at what to do next. I will definitely research an application for the Cambridge MBA.

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