In 2008, Walmart executives began the hunt for new leaders to take the reins in their store management positions. The company was growing fast and their usual recruiting techniques couldn’t keep up anymore. When COO Bill Simon threw out the idea of hiring junior and senior level military officers to fill the roles, the company ran with it. Within just a few months, reported a Fortune article, Walmart realized it had hit a “gold mine of talent” — and they never looked back. In fact, Walmart has gone on to hire more than 250,000 military Veterans since 2013. Other corporations, like Home Depot and T-Mobile, have also made massive commitments to Veteran recruitment. All this buzz around hiring Vets poses the question: Are Veterans more equipped to lead in a corporate setting?
We know they are, and here’s why.
Military Veterans Perform Better Under Stress
According to a study reported by KelloggInsight, researchers found that “military CEOs tend to make ethical, conservative decisions — and particularly adept at leading firms under duress.” Because military Veterans have been trained to respond in life or death situations, handling stress in non life-threatening scenarios is much easier for them than it would be for the average civilian. In addition, the study showed there was a direct link between military CEOs and conservative corporate behavior. For example, a CEO with a military background was “less likely to make bold investments in physical capital or research and development compared with CEOs with civilian backgrounds.” Being trained in riskier (life or death) situations actually makes them more risk-averse in decision making. Bottom line: If you want to succeed in times of distress and decline, put a military Veteran in charge.
Military Veterans Have Experience in Leading Large Groups
Though this isn’t necessarily true for every single military Vet, the more junior and senior level personnel will come with a track record of leading large groups. In fact, many of them were 20-somethings when given the responsibility of leading missions. In the Fortune article already referenced, retired U.S. Army Gen. David Patraeus was quoted as saying this:
“Tell me anywhere in the business world where a 22- or 23-year-old is responsible for 35 or 40 other individuals on missions that involve life and death. Their tactical actions can have strategic implications for the overall mission. And they’re under enormous scrutiny, on top of everything else.”
When the stakes are this high and the lives are this many, leadership training has to be a priority in the military. These men and women are entering the civilian workforce with some of the best training and real-life leadership experience out there — and they didn’t go to school to get it.
Military Veterans Have Higher Than Average Integrity
In the same KelloggInsight study, researchers found that honesty is a standout quality amongst CEOs with military backgrounds. In fact, they were even able to put a number on it. Veteran CEOs were 70 percent less likely to commit corporate fraud than the average civilian CEO. In an industry that has experienced its fair share of scandal, putting Veterans in places of influence and power could be a surefire way to keep your company name out of any unwelcome headlines.
If you’re a corporation looking to hire military Veteran talent, SAVI can help. Contact us to learn how we can connect you with the next quality leadership your company deserves.