Once people find out I was in the Army, I always get the same question what did I do in the Army and how did it prepare me for business. My response is, I was a Scout. So what exactly is a Scout? I explain, that Scouts are the eyes and ears of a unit; the information Scouts gather is sent up the chain of command so commanders can make tactical and strategic decisions. For many years I was stationed in Amberg and Schweinfurt, Germany and our mission was to patrol the East/West German border. The observations and information we gathered allowed commanders to understand what was happening in almost real-time and create or modify plans. Best job ever!
So as you can see, being a Scout really does not have any civilian related jobs. However, it did prepare me for business/corporate life.
At the ripe old age of 17, as I arrived at Boot Camp in Fort Knox, KY I learned some valuable lessons that have rang true throughout my entire life. I learned a few things quickly and these traits are how I still conduct myself and why I have been successful in my life and business career.
1. Respect Everyone
Treat everyone how you wanted to be treated. The private you’re giving orders to now, may be your Platoon Leader in a few short years. When you treat people regardless of where they come from and their background, good things will happen. Saying ‘Yes Sir’, ‘Yes Mam’, ‘No Sir’ and ‘No Mam’, these simple phrases will get you further than anything.
2. Be on Time
Trust me, being a Scout and being too early or too late to a designated location can get you and your team in a very bad situation, very quickly. As trivial as this sounds, being on time not only demonstrates you’re ready, but you are respecting the people you are meeting with. Being late shows either you’re not dependable, you don’t know how to manage your time, or your planning process might be flawed. My rule is be at least 10 minutes early, so I can ensure I set everything up and ready to go.
3. Pay Attention and Listen
Spend more time listening and less time talking. When you’re talking, you miss the conversations around you. I want to understand their challenges, pain points and what they need in order to be successful. After all, when they are successful, you will be successful.
4. Be Observant
Know your surroundings and pay attention to things that either look out of place or different, since the last time you were there. If something doesn’t feel right, 9 times out of 10 it’s not right and you may need to regroup and reevaluate your plans.
5. Make Decisions and be able to Delegate
Being able to make decisions is key in the Army and in business. Ask anyone that knows me, I will make a decision, I don’t over analyze, but I do understand the consequences of my decisions. If I make a bad decision, I admit to it and try to fix it. Delegating is also very important. You can’t be everywhere at once, you have to rely on your team to make decisions in your absence. If they make a bad or wrong decision, you don’t have to come down on them like a hammer. If you do, they will never make another decision or just quit. Use it as a teaching point, which is what leaders do. Don’t make the same mistake twice.
6. Plan for Everything Possible
I like to plan for every possible outcome and have for each a contingency plan in place. I don’t like surprises. I look at every opportunity as a rehearsal for the next opportunity and learn from each and every one. For example, if I have a meeting with a customer, I have met with before; I always review any notes or other information we have gathered in the previous meetings.
I hope after reading these 6 Traits, you can see how they can assist you in your day-to-day business and your professional career.
So in closing, it all comes down to treating people with respect, don’t be late, stop talking and pay attention, make a decision, be observant and plan for all possible outcomes.