Leadership Lessons from the Military


Dheeraj Sharma

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    For my parents Pran Nath and Sangeeta Sharma, my wife Shveta Sharma, and my children Lavya and Girik

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    List of Figures

    • 3.1. Stages of Team Formation 59
    • 4.1. Antecedents of Pre-Training Motivation 74
    • 5.1. Social-Learning Constructs 108
    • 6.1. Similarities and Differences between the Military and Corporate Firms 115
    • 7.1. Factors Influenced by Family-Friendly Environment 139
    • 8.1. The Ashridge's Model Mission for Organizations 166


    We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles, but by a clear path to a lesser goal.

    —The Bhagavad Gita

    It is my pleasure and honor to provide a foreword to this outstanding book, written by Professor Dheeraj Sharma of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Notably, the uniqueness of this book is attributed to the creation of an amalgam of military practices and management techniques. The book deals with the development of corporate capabilities based on military practices. It offers a unique opportunity to touch a wider audience and provide fundamental information of military practices, which may be relevant to the corporate world. This book is written by the author who has been deeply involved in the military processes for the past two years, and who strives to find innovative solutions to some of the complex management problems in this field, thus, resulting in the utmost level of authenticity.

    Military approaches and processes are complex issues, and, sometimes, less understood. Military thrives on great leadership. However, the biggest lesson that is learnt from the military is to learn to follow. The military provides continuous education and training on leadership and followership. Through various training programs, regimental traditions, and mentorship, the military stresses a wide range of styles, methods, and techniques to tackle organizational challenges. Most of the practices in the military are geared toward influencing an individual to engage in an appropriate behavior, and creating an ecosystem that fosters goal attainment.

    Over the years, there might have been two major, but contrary, views that have explained performance in the corporate world. First, corporate policies may be more prominent than the values of the employees and the management. Second, according to the contrary view, the character and values of the employees and the management form the basis of better firm performance. The book reconciles the two contrary views by suggesting that good corporate performance is derived from military practices and approaches, which instill ethical and innovative behavior on one hand, and create standard operating procedures and drills on the other hand.

    The book provides a comprehensive overview of the approaches and processes of the military in managing organizational challenges. In particular, the book offers an insight into the military approach to leadership, workforce motivation, building and managing teams, creating an ethical environment that foster ethical conduct, creating standard operating procedures, creating work–life balance, and developing and nurturing a vibrant organizational culture. Overall, the book helps in understanding that organizational outcomes are not necessarily due to the firm, but they can be attributed to individual leadership as well.

    This book provides sufficient evidence that military practices and approaches are transferable to corporate set-ups. Consequently, I have no doubt that this book will foster discussion not only in the corporate world, but also in the military circuit. I am sanguine about the fact that it will contribute to a better and more coherent development of general management capabilities. Moreover, I am of the view that it will give new impetus to closer integration of general management principles with military principles of leadership.

    Lt General (Retd.)SanjeevAnand, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, Former Adjutant General, Indian Army


    I thought of writing this book after I became closely associated with Army Training Command through Army Management Studies Board (AMSB). AMSB is platform for exchange between top brass of Indian Army and management researchers on innovative ideas and issues that deal with organisational effectiveness and national security. I was tasked by AMSB with a project that required me to review and recommend officer selection process for Indian Army. During the course of my project, I interacted with over a hundred army officers and several hundred cadets. During my interactions, I learned that corporate world could benefit considerably from learning some of the practices, procedures, and processes of Indian army.

    This book was written for corporate manager and army officers who are hoping to pursue a corporate career after serving in the army. This book was developed based on my research and understanding of practices of armed forces.

    Consequently, I offers my deepest appreciation to all those who have contributed to this book. What was accomplished was the result of our joint efforts. However, special appreciation is extended to the officers of Indian army, who were instrumental in coordinating and managing my interactions.

    The management and coordination of my interactions requires dedication and enormous effort of officers of Indian Military Academy. Indian Military Academy played pivotal role in encouraging participation of various formations and bodies for me to complete my research project conscientiously.

    I want thank my team at IIM-Ahmedabad—Divya, Kirti, Shivraj, Sonu Kumar, Tanvi, my IIT interns and many others for their dedicated work. I want to extend my gratitude to Lt General Sanjeev Madhok (Army Commander-ARTRAC), Lt General Rajeev Anand (Adjutant General), and Lt General Balbir Pama (DG-Recruiting) for their wonderful insight. Also, I want to extend special thanks to Lt General Manvendra Singh, Commandant-Indian Military Academy for his remarkable support in managing various administrative tasks related to my project and providing special insights for writing this book.

    Additionally, I want to extend my gratitude to my family for their time and patience when I was authoring this book and I really appreciate it. Finally, through this book I honor, salute and celebrate our troops and their families, who have been instrumental in creating the ethos, culture, and value system of Indian army. Jai Hind!

  • About the Author

    Dr Dheeraj Sharma is a faculty in Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India. He earned his doctoral degree with major in marketing, and double minor in psychology and quantitative analysis from Louisiana Tech University, USA. He has taught and presented research at numerous education institutions in North America, Europe, and Asia.

    Dr Sharma has been the recipient of many academic and professional awards. He is an American Marketing Association Doctoral Consortium Fellow and National Conference of Sales Management Doctoral Fellow. He was nominated for Clifford J. Robson Excellence in Teaching Award, and also for Erica and Arnold Rogers Excellence in Research Award for year 2009–2010. He was an associate editor of Journal of Marketing Channels, and also an editor of the Academy of Marketing Science proceedings. He is an active member of Academy of Marketing Science, Society of Marketing Advances, American Marketing Association, and World Marketing Congress. As a member of the aforementioned associations, he has served as a session chair, discussant, track chair, and executive member of organization committee.

    Dr Sharma has over fifty publications in leading international journals, encyclopedias, books, and conference proceedings.

    Dr Sharma has been involved in consulting projects and executive training with several multinational corporations, such as ICI Paints, Duncan Holdings LLC, Globe Rangers LLC to name a few. He served on board of India Canada Cultural and Heritage Association, Canada. He continues to be a special invitee to Army Management Studies Board of Indian Army.

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