As an entrepreneur and person who loves to learn, I was excited to have the opportunity to read 8 Lessons in Military Leadership for Entrepreneurs by Robert Kiyosaki, author of international bestseller, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” A big “thank you” to Rich Dad for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring my action items to grow as an entrepreneur.
In 8 Lessons in Military Leadership for Entrepreneurs, Robert Kiyosaki shares lessons he learned through his military experience and how each of them played a part in his success as an entrepreneur. As I read, I began to realize that there are action items from each leadership lesson that I need to put in place in order to really benefit from my entrepreneurial endeavors. Here are those lessons from Robert Kiyosaki and my personal action items for each.
Leadership Lesson #1: Leaders are role models
While I was never in the military, I can see the rewards of the 8 lessons you must learn. Traditional education trains people to be employees, not entrepreneurs. Military experience, on the other hand, trains and prepares people to lead.
At first, I thought the idea of the military teaching people to lead sounded funny. I have always pictured the military as primarily a group of people following orders – not leading. However, that’s not necessarily true. Each of these men and women are learning discipline and habits that can help them move into a position of leadership. They are learning the ways and rituals modeled by their commanders.
My Action Items:
- Rather than relying on books and gaining knowledge “second-hand” through lectures or courses, I need to seek out role models or mentors who can help mold me into the leader I want to become.
- Take the leadership lessons I have learned and put them into practice more regularly. As a self-employed individual, I don’t necessarily have employees to lead. However, I can become more visible in my industry and provide guidance and leadership to those who may benefit from it. This may include getting involved in leadership roles at trade organizations or helping a nonprofit with their digital marketing.
Leadership Lesson #2: Leader vs. loner
As someone who always made the honor roll and the dean’s list, I definitely learned to define success through individual achievement. It’s not a great preparation for success in business, though. That’s one place where people with military experience may have an advantage.
In the military, people are trained to unify and work together. If one person doesn’t do his or her job by the book, he or she may be putting the mission and lives of others in jeopardy. If there were more focus on mission and team in business, there may be more successful small business owners instead of small business failures. A leader knows how to hire specialists for each core job function, but he or she also knows how to unite them to work together.
My Action Items:
My biggest issue is to simply try to break away from some of my lone wolf ways. I like to “do it myself.” I like to “do it my way.” I typically work well with others, but I don’t necessarily always want to do that. I admit that I am not a fan of “managing” people. I need to take my biggest successes in volunteer work and start applying those to business.
I was a team captain, as well as a corporate sponsorship chair for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event in my community. In those instances, it was easy to understand the value of being a leader instead of a lone wolf. We were all working for a common good. In business, you can lose sight of “common good” because you have generally been trained to “look out for number one.”
If I want my own business to continue to grow, I have to leverage those volunteer experiences in my business life by being a more of a leader rather than a doer for clients. I will also use these lessons when my business grows, and I have employees.
Leadership Lesson #3: Discipline delivers a higher quality of life
Of all the lessons in 8 Lessons in Military Leadership for Entrepreneurs, this chapter is the one that caused me to reflect the most. While I am very focused when it comes to work, I think – I know I lack discipline in other areas of my life. This chapter has made me consider my life as a whole and the impact discipline and lack of discipline in certain areas can affect my success as an entrepreneur.
According to lesson 3, one has to be strong in four different disciplines to make it as an entrepreneur:
- Physical – have the strength to work without a break – possibly for years
- Mental – be able to learn quickly after making a mistake
- Spiritual – have integrity and moral strength when faced with weaknesses and to have hope to keep going
- Emotional – have the drive to pursue freedom rather than give into the fear of life without a steady paycheck
I’m pretty good if I compartmentalize and look at these four strengths only as they apply to me as an entrepreneur:
- I love to work and can keep going without a break.
- I do learn quickly from mistakes.
- I am pretty strong in the spiritual aspects of my character.
- I am not afraid of life without a steady paycheck.
But, how much better could I be as an entrepreneur if I applied all of these disciplines to my life as a whole? The area where I am severely lacking is in physical discipline.
My Action Items:
- Stop being so damn lazy outside of working. I have to improve my overall physical health if I want to continue having the strength to work without a break. That means <ugh> taking time to exercise and planning healthier meals.
- Make my life outside of work more organized. Taking time to simply put things away is a big area for improvement. I am always misplacing my keys or my phone because I don’t take time to simply put them away. I need to add a little more structure instead of just being loosey-goosey. How much time would I save if I knew exactly where to look when I need my phone or keys!
Leadership Lesson #4: Power of respect
Respect plays a huge role in the success of a leader. A leader who gives respect gets respect from those whom he or she leads. This is a lesson that many people never learn. My favorite phrase from this section is that ABC may mean, “always be closing” to some people, but we should see it as “always be caring.” When a leader cares about the mission, the team, and the individuals, that leader will have respect.
Great leaders are able to effectively and respectfully communicate. That includes the ability to give constructive criticism. It shows your team that you care about the mission, the team, and the individuals. Constructive criticism is about making people stronger and communicating it in a way that is effective.
My Action Item:
I haven’t always been a fan of giving criticism. I didn’t want to “hurt someone’s feelings.” As an entrepreneur, though, I have learned the absolute necessity of constructive criticism. When a client “doesn’t want to hurt my feelings” by providing direct, constructive criticism, it slows down the process and costs both of us more time and money. When I don’t provide constructive criticism to my business partner or she doesn’t do the same for me, we put one another’s livelihoods at risk.
I just need to continue approaching the idea of criticism as necessary and good while delivering it with respect. I think for women it can sometimes be more difficult to criticize because we don’t want people to think we are mean. I just need to always reframe that tendency: it would be more mean to let someone fail than it would be to provide guidance or correction.
Leadership Lesson #5: Need for speed
We live in a fast-paced world. You know that already, and you can probably surmise that businesses must be able to react quickly. You know that without reading this chapter. However, Kiyosaki gives us more insight into the types of speed we need in order to run successful businesses. He outlines four organizational speeds:
- Angular speed – example: Earth orbiting the sun is an example of angular speed. Without the right speed at the precise angle, the earth would fall into the sun. An organization can’t expand if the core of the organization is sloppy or weak – their angular speed will be off.
- Process speed – length of time it takes to complete a process.
- Pocket speed – ability to hit a target in time and space.
- Gradient speed – the speed at which an individual can learn a skill.
A great example of a business that has these four speeds mastered is McDonald’s. As the author points out, they have . . .
- Created an exceptional core business structure and organization that has helped them expand globally (angular speed).
- Developed a specific, speedy, repeatable process that gets out orders efficiently (process speed).
- Mastered everything from supply chain management to in-store operations in order to get everything ready to get a burger to a customer (pocket speed).
- Crafted a process for training new franchisees and know the typical ramp up time for new units (gradient speed).
My Action Item:
I am going to map out each type of speed and where I can make improvements in my business.
Leadership Lesson #6: Unite to Win and Divide to Conquer
This leadership lesson hearkens back to the lesson on lone wolf vs. leader. In the traditional world of education and business, we are taught to achieve as individuals. In the military, people are taught to unite in order to win. Some of the things that help unite military members are rituals and process. In businesses where there is no ritual or unified process, employees are fighting to divide and conquer for individual achievement instead of uniting to win as a business.
My Action Item
While I don’t have a huge team of people to unite (yet), I do have the opportunity now to set those team rituals and processes. These can be used to provide repeatable successes for new and current clients.
Leadership Lesson #7: Leaders are teachers
This chapter of 8 Lessons in Military Leadership for Entrepreneurs definitely rings true for me. My favorite teachers in school and leaders during my career are the ones who inspired and challenged me. They also demonstrated what Kiyosaki says, “don’t try to be interesting – be interested instead.” People who try to be interesting usually aren’t. People who have a genuine interest in others/learning/etc. are much more valuable as friends and leaders.
My Action Item
I am really curious by nature, so asking questions comes easily. However, there are those moments as an entrepreneur where you may be afraid to ask a question – you don’t want people to think you don’t know something, right? That’s where you can actually show your self-confidence and learn something new. Instead of being afraid to ask questions in business, my goal is to ask more questions and learn.
Leadership Lesson #8: Leadership is one big sales job
When you consider sales as the art of persuading someone to take an action, then it makes perfect sense that great leaders are also great salespeople. The best salespeople are great communicators and understand emotional motivations. The measure of a good communicator is the response he or she receives. When selling, the response that equals success is more money. Failure is “no” or “I’ll think about it” (a delayed no).
As Robert Kiyosaki points out, great leaders understand their responsibility in sale. Poor leaders blame employees, the customers, the economy, or something else.
My Action Item
I’m not going to lie: when I think about selling – in the stereotypical sense – I feel panicky. I don’t like to pressure people into doing something or buying something. That’s why I have been and will continue to practice the art of persuasion and communication.
Buy Robert Kiyosaki’s 8 Lessons in Military Leadership for Entrepreneurs, and discover what lessons you can apply to your entrepreneurial endeavors! Come back and share them with me here in the comments section!