In addition to the education and resources needed to transition into a civilian career, veterans can bring to the table leadership qualities like the following:
1. Trust-building. There’s a tense scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan when Tom Hanks defuses troop infighting by revealing he’s a small-town English teacher back home. Cue the music and monologue, and the trust from his troops builds to a climax. Sure, it’s cinema. But in real life, great leaders inspire trust. This helps them stay focused on the mission.
2. Problem-solving. Many veterans make smart decisions under pressure. This can translate well to negotiating contracts, selecting contractors, prioritizing a project’s deadline or managing egos.
3. A sense of calm under pressure. Remaining calm under duress inspires unity. “When you can solve problems calmly, people want to follow that person. In the toughest of situations, people tend to fall in line behind a strong leader,” Ryan says.
4. Motivational skill. Because of the “overview effect” described earlier, many veterans have the ability to lead diverse people toward a common goal. Call it relational IQ, respect or empathy — or all three — but good leaders have it.
5. Efficiency. Veterans are accustomed to keeping the mission moving forward. They focus on progress, not perfection.
6. Serving the greater good. “Military personnel are looking for a sense of something greater than self. The first thing we do is swear an oath to protect the United States against all enemies — foreign and domestic. That’s a big thing,” Ryan says.
In the end, Veterans tend to have a strong focus on building other people and making them feel bigger together than they were alone. And that kind of leader can make all the difference.