On Veterans Day each year, the nation honors the more than 18 million Americans who have served our country. Services, parades, luncheons and other special events take place to acknowledge the sacrifices and service of our military.
As one individual points out, the transition of veterans back into their communities and into the workplace remains a vital and ongoing step — with wide-reaching impacts.
Andrew McClure, a managing director at Forgepoint Capital based in Silicon Valley — the largest and most active venture capital firm focused on cybersecurity — told Fox News Digital, "Veterans are sought after by employers who value traits for which veterans are well-known: experience, dedication, discipline, initiative and demonstrated leadership skills."
He added, "Those who have served in the U.S. armed forces bring a unique talent and sense of mission into the labor pool after they hang up the uniform."
A former Marine himself, McClure said that what he learned during his years in the service "has not only made me a better citizen, but also a better business leader."
McClure served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He led cross-functional teams in Afghanistan, the Middle East, East Africa and Australia focused on signals intelligence and cyber operations. To this day, he remains active in the Reserves, supporting the U.S. intelligence community.
He serves on the board of directors at Constella Intelligence, Converge Insurance and other firms, and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (B.S. astrophysics); he holds advanced degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, MIT’s Sloan School of Management and the Australian National University.
This Veterans Day, McClure shared four tips and insights for successful leaders of any group, organization or company.
McClure stressed that "in the Marine Corps, officers eat last. The aphorism isn’t a statement on etiquette, but rather a broader understanding that service-based leadership involves prioritizing your organization’s needs before your own."
He said, "Whether the first to the field or the last to leave the office, servant leaders trade their comforts for the well-being of their team. In the process, they accrue loyalty and admiration for when it really matters."
America's military veterans, he said, "recognize a difference between formal authority and moral authority. One is characterized by the rank you wear or the title on your business card. The other is by the trust you earn by virtue of your performance, competence and rectitude."
And while "commanding obedience to orders is simple — true leadership inspires courage to charge a hill under fire."
McClure said that in today's society and the world of work, "imagine a store manager restocking shelves, a CEO fielding sales calls or a research physician continuing to treat clinical patients. All three examples show the value of frontline feedback."
"Does your organization," asked McClure, "invest in people, train them for the full depth and responsibility of the job, and support their independent judgment by devolving as much decision-making authority down to the lowest possible level?"
He said that in the Marines, "mission rehearsals build pattern recognition — and case studies and after-action reviews provide learning opportunities for constant improvement."
So leaders of any type of organization should "decentralize decision-making," he said.
"A common misperception of the military is that the highest-ranking officials make the most important decisions," said McClure. "The exact opposite is true. More than any weapon platform, the secret strength of the U.S. armed forces is the non-commissioned officer (NCO) corps, in which corporals and sergeants are empowered to make real-time decisions."
And, given that "problems are recognized the quickest by those at the point of friction — and that speed is a weapon" — any leader should remember that "success is never yours alone but belongs to the team."
He also recommended that leaders should "reward strong performance with the recognition it deserves."
Added McClure, "Few things damage morale more than seeing positive behavior going unnoticed or poor performance going uncorrected."
Leaders of any organization or group — no matter its focus or mission — need to "take responsibility for their actions."
Said McClure, "Many industry leaders (and clearly politicians) like to proclaim, ‘The buck stops here,’ but are masters at shifting blame. Marines know better than most the full weight of accountability."
"They don’t claim success as their own or pass off failure to others. They know how to handle, and never hide, bad news. If you were hired to do one thing and couldn’t manage, resign."
He added that "confident leaders are self-aware. They ask questions, but never the same ones twice. Self-introspection, humility and demonstrating willingness to learn can go a long way."
McClure said that part of setting high standards for teams is about encouraging initiative in others.
"Marines have an exhortation: ‘Message to Garcia,’" he said. "The allusion is to the 1899 essay on how individual initiative saved the day and won the Spanish-American War. When said to another Marine, it simply means, ‘Go figure it out.’ Improvise, adapt and overcome."
He added, "Fostering initiative is the key ingredient to creating a culture of ownership."
McClure's final insight is about the Marines' embrace of "esprit de corps — a sense of unity, mission and close association through task and purpose."
American Marines, he said, "share common rituals, rites of passage and jargon. Bonds built on pride of place create tenacious loyalty."
So, he asked, "what practices, traditions and vocabulary are you forming at your organization to foster unity of effort so everyone keeps marching in the same direction? Culture, as they say, eats strategy for breakfast."
McClure noted that these four strategies are all "second nature for those who served. Veterans imbue these values once ensconced across private industry — and can make great hires for any mission-driven team."