Breaking the Mold: Tom Williams Brings Military Discipline to Corporate Leadership

On the surface, the military and the corporate world couldn’t be any different. The differences are evident from values to purpose and goals to organizing principles. A look beneath the surface would find that the two have quite a few things in common amongst all the differences. Not only that, but it seems that the corporations that adopt specific methods, practices, and values from the military might be doing something beneficial for themselves.

Tom Williams believes it’s especially beneficial for companies to learn about leadership from the military. The consultant and author of a course and the book War Forged Leadership likes to keep his mission statement as simple as possible. “I’m trying to help business leaders be the best possible versions of themselves, for their people,” he says.

Williams goes about doing it by taking tried and tested concepts from the military and adapting them to be understandable and applicable in the corporate setting. An example he’d use is from one of the chapters in his book, and it’s concerned with finding balance and learning when and how to apply oneself to the maximum level.

“Anybody should think about optimizing their personal life so that they can peak their performance where it matters,” he says. “If I’ve got to go prepare for a meeting, or let’s say I’m going to do public speaking, right, I’m going to try and get everything lined up in my life perfectly so that my peak performance is during that presentation. That’s battle rhythm versus biorhythm.”

One thing his training and experiences in the military have taught Williams how to differentiate is a true leader from someone who’s just barking orders. A leader is a person who leads from the front, pulling people forward and trying to drive things in the desired direction. But a leader who doesn’t do that and issues commands behind a desk is a boss. And Williams implores people to stop being bosses and start being leaders. It’s good for themselves, their team, and the whole company.

Feedback is another essential tool in the arsenal of a business leader. It establishes accountability and responsibility but is also a key component in future growth.

“How powerful it is to sit down with people once a month, or maybe quarterly or semi-annually, and give them your metrics on how they’re doing and then ways to improve,” Williams says. “And if you’re not training your people to the standard that you want them to perform at, that’s a mistake.”

To ensure they tackle all of the crucial tasks they have in the day, leaders often need to find an extra hour or two on top of the twenty-four we already have. But there’s no slowing the earth down as it rotates around the sun. What Williams advises, however, is making time a priority.

“I’ve seen this in the army a couple of times where leaders spend so much time going to meetings that they don’t have time to talk to their people, or they’re not doing the performance counseling aspect,” Williams says. “And the thing is, if you spend all day doing meetings and your staff goes to all of your meetings, then no one’s doing any work.”

From aspiring to be the leader others will follow to learning how to manage time and set oneself up for success, the military self-development and leadership handbook offers plenty to the business world. Thanks to Tom Williams and how he distills his experiences into insightful passages and actionable advice, it’s now easier to get started and become a leader worthy of their following.


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