Did you ever stop and think that the military advances people who sacrifice themselves over others, whereas almost every company advances people who sacrifice others for themselves?

Watched this Simon Sinek TED Talk before bed last night and was thinking about it a little more this morning. First of all — and this is a bit of a generalization — but businesses/organizations tend to love having military presence at events or in-house on the strategic side. If you roll off a successful military career (and have no scandals), you can pretty much name your price for speaking to places like Exxon about leadership and strategy and battling adversity. The business world, by and large, loves the military.

But think about this: in the military, you can advance (and often this is the only path) by sacrificing yourself for others. In the business world, though, you often need to sacrifice others for yourself. The models are almost entirely different. Now… the business world tends to be based on profits, whereas the military isn’t. That’s a major difference. But both are ultimately very connected to the idea of individual betterment and advancement. That’s what good generals/lieutenants/captains do — provide for and develop their units — and that’s what good leaders should be doing. It’s kind of awkward, if you really resonate on it, that many people will claim America was built on its military, but yet … one of the core essences of the military has been completely inverted in another major public sphere (i.e. where you spend your days at work).

Do you think it would be possible to create an organizational culture which was more predicated on boosting others in order to get your own return (some do exist), or would that require a wholesale change of how we look at the idea of work?

Ted Bauer


  1. Maybe this explains why there are so many sociopaths in corporate America?

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