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Military Mindset: Leadership, Discipline, Resilience, and Teamwork


Military training and experience are systematically known for creating highly efficient, cohesive, and resilient organizations which is the national military and its units. In the post-9/11 era of regional conflicts and short-term deployments in global anti-terrorism efforts, veterans often find themselves entering the labor force, with the experience often highly valued by employers. The military mindset forged through weeks of training and subsequent high-pressure situations can have relevant applications in a corporate business environment which has become oftentimes stagnant, undisciplined, and without strong management or leadership at non-executive levels. This literature review will focus on the four themes identified in the context of the military mindset, which is leadership, discipline, resilience, and teamwork which can be used within non-military organizations to enhance various elements of performance or organizational structure.


The literature search strategy sought to use a deductive approach of taking a broad theme and research topic of “leveraging military mindset into business” and narrowing it down to specific applications. For example, the practical applications of the military mindset were explored such as in the context of business leadership, business discipline, resilience in crises, or strong elements of teamwork. Using article databases such as Google Scholar, JSTOR, Scopus, Science Direct, and Emerald, key terms were searched for, and articles were selected based on relevance from a preliminary reading of abstracts.

Approximately 30 articles were examined, out of which 10 were selected for the literature review. Articles were reviewed for subject matter, relevancy, as well as basic elements of efficacy and reliability. Thematic analysis was conducted to categorize the articles based on subject themes in relation to the organization of the thesis and organization of the literature review. Based on this, a logical cohesive flow of information was written based on the available research.

Table 1. Categorization of literature by theme on the topic of leveraging military mindset in business environments.

Theme Literature
Leadership Kirchner & Akdere, 2017; McDermott et al., 2015; Nazri & Rudi, 2019.
Discipline Georgiev, 2019; Nasiv et al., 2019.


Adler & Sowden, 2018; McGarry et al., 2014; Williams et al., 2017.

Adler & Sowden, 2018; Lacerenza et al., 2018; McGinn et al., 2015.


Military is known for stimulating and developing leadership traits in many service members. As a result, many military veterans pursue leadership roles in organizations or begin as entrepreneurs where they take charge. The military provides individuals with key skills needed in leadership, some of which are discussed in other themes, such as the ability to overcome obstacles, teamwork, weighted risk-taking, and discipline. The spirit of a military mindset can be replicated in team spirit and solidarity in business environments where the individual is able to take the leadership role (Dermott et al., 2015).

The military uses a continuous and consistent approach to leadership development, expecting competencies from all its members regardless of actual position or authority. However, those in positions of power in the military have much more consequential roles, where mistakes can cost the lives of soldiers as well as national security risks for civilians. Therefore, the development of leadership competency through the synthesis of knowledge, skills, and abilities is a holistic model of development that can be applicable in non-military organizations as well (Kirchner & Akdere, 2017).


Nazri & Rudi (2019) proposed a military leadership framework seen above. They argue that leader paradigms continue to emphasize attributes and traits which are crucial in key settings. Furthermore, military leadership commonly follows guidance, doctrines, standards, and principles which are regularly updated, allowing for development and innovation. Many of these traits are effective in complex, dynamic environments which can be seen in the business context. Traits the likes as confidence, adaptability, emotional stability, intelligence, decision-making and competence are crucial for leadership organization in virtually any context.


One of the most recognized military traits is discipline, which also has a fit in the context of corporate business. Discipline brings with it a mindset that is objective-oriented but also organized and the ability to persevere through difficult or tedious tasks. While discipline is not unique to the military, it often places discipline at a high priority. Discipline is a key element for both leaders, which have to exercise patience and control, and for basic workers and low-level managers who have to demonstrate discipline in fulfilling remedial tasks and waiting for opportunities to climb within an organization (Georgiev, 2019). Discipline is a foundation for multiple other aspects of leadership and military mindset which are discussed in this review.

Discipline is beneficial in bringing focus and attention to a business environment. In a complex, shifting environment and market where a business operates, it is impossible to cover everything, so discipline allows focusing on the important elements which will ensure stability and growth for the company. Discipline helps in maintaining order and reducing panic in challenging situations, as well as adapting to difficult changes if a company has to become more efficient and cut costs. Disciplines in officers create an individual that demonstrates critical professional thinking, while also maintaining creativity and independence, fostering intellectual development. A disciplined figure can influence positive corporate actions and impact the organization in a manner that adheres to the best values and principles of business law and ethics (Nasih et al., 2019).


The military mindset leads to the formation of resilience, a key to survival in warfare contexts, but also creates character traits of adaptability and psychological strength that continue to remain useful in civilian life. However, resilience is the interaction between personal characteristics and the structural environment in which a person operates (McGarry et al., 2017). The military fosters a culture of resilience through its customs, traditions, and values.

Resilience is also taught as part of military education, based on the cognitive-behavioral model. Transitioning from military to civilian life, resilience has both positive and negative impacts. While it may benefit an individual by providing strong core values, organizational skills, adaptability, and efficiency – negative elements such as the inability to emotionally adapt or shutting out traumatic experiences can cause psychological harm (Adler & Sowden, 2018).

Organizational resilience of the company and its members is a key trend in management practice recently. Williams et al. (2017) propose a framework that focuses on the themes of crisis and resilience. When integrating resilience into organizations, creates capabilities of durability, organizing and adjusting, competent response, and strong self-analysis through feedback. The interaction between crisis and resilience is a dynamic process that requires leadership and mindfulness to navigate (Williams et al., 2017). Integrating the concepts of military resilience in civilian organization contexts can be highly valuable from a mindset standpoint as they bring the capabilities listed above and navigate dynamic crises


Military culture is distinguished by a profound commitment to a larger goal, often resulting in individuals putting their desires on hold. The culture and perspectives are inherently collectivistic and built around the concept of group-think and teamwork to support each other and achieve the set objectives (Adler & Sowden, 2018). Teamwork and collaboration have become a central element of the workplace and the use of teams is projected to increase. Businesses invest millions into the training of enhancing teamwork effectiveness since successful teams produce effective outcomes in a wide range of contexts due to the team competencies and processes (Lacerenza et al., 2018).

The military or other industries heavily reliant on teamwork for function or survival can achieve strong and cohesive teamwork due to culture and methods of training and discipline not seen in typical office workplaces.

Some key elements that can be adopted from the military model are trust and familiarity. Despite the hierarchical structure of the military, the individuals within teams as well as the chain of command have a number of informal interactions and set of linkages. With time, one becomes familiar with the teammates due to the intimate knowledge of their behavior and actions, resulting in organic cohesion and teamwork. This leads to trust, as teammates trust each other with time, but leaders also demonstrate trust by placing responsibility on the teams and trusting them to function on their own.

There are expectations and reputation, but trust is vital as it allows to rely on your team members, whether it is a nighttime raid that can cost casualties or a major office project that impacts everyone’s professional career. However, the military more often than not operates day-to-day functions that are mundane, and the lessons can be transferred to the commercial sector, which consists of basic factors such as building relationships and understanding team capabilities (McGinn, 2015).


The military mindset contributes strongly to enhancing the corporate business environment. Military leadership benefits in business by being able to make critical decisions in high-pressure situations and a strategic approach to long-term objectives as well as bring a level of strong leadership that garners respect but promotes comradery. Discipline and rigor are beneficial since bringing these to business practices aid in better structuring and organization within the structure – offering once again a systematic approach to problem-solving and processes, eliminating redundancies and improving efficiencies. Resilience is needed in business just as much as in the military as it aids in overcoming challenges and being able to flexibly navigate the multidimensional situations that may arise in market circumstances.

Finally, teamwork is a staple of the military mindset that is critical for business at every level that has largely functioned as an independent-centric structure even if teamwork is beneficial and required. Teamwork helps to better communication, enhanced workflow, and socially motivational aspects toward a common objective.


Adler, A. B., & Sowden, W. J. (2018). Resilience in the military: The double-edged sword of military culture. Military and Veteran Mental Health, 43–54. Web.

Georgiev, M. (2019). Improvement in the forming of the military professional qualities during the educational process. Knowledge – International Journal, 31(6), 1945-1950.

Kirchner, M., & Akdere, M. (2017). Military leadership development strategies: Implications for training in non-military organizations. Industrial and Commercial Training, 49(7/8), 357–364. Web.

Lacerenza, C. N., Marlow, S. L., Tannenbaum, S. I., & Salas, E. (2018). Team development interventions: Evidence-based approaches for improving teamwork. American Psychologist, 73(4), 517–531. Web.

McDermott, M. J., Boyd, T. C., & Weaver, A. (2015). Franchise business ownership: A comparative study on the implications of military experience on franchisee success and satisfaction. Entrepreneurial Executive, 20, 9-30. Web.

McGarry, R., Walklate, S., & Mythen, G. (2014). A sociological analysis of military resilience. Armed Forces & Society, 41(2), 352–378. Web.

McGinn, D. (2015). What companies can learn from military teams? Harvard Business Review. Web.

Nasih, M., Harymawan, I, Putra, F. J., & Qotrunnada, R. (2019). Military experienced board and corporate social responsibility disclosure: An empirical evidence from Indonesia. Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Issues, 7(1), 553-573. Web

Nazri, M., & Rudi, M. (2019). Military leadership: A systematic literature review of current research. International Journal of Business and Management, 3(1). Web.

Williams, T. A., Gruber, D. A., Sutcliffe, K. M., Shepherd, D. A., & Zhao, E. Y. (2017). Organizational response to adversity: Fusing crisis management and resilience research streams. Academy of Management Annals, 11(2), 733–769. Web.


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