Military-level tips for leaders, courtesy OneWire’s CEO interviews

The latest CEO interview posted to OneWire’s website is a singular one: rather than speak to a figure from the business world about accounting jobs and other finance careers, we asked a decorated military officer to offer us some tips on leadership.

Our interview with Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, as a result, is unlike any other interview OneWire has posted thus far. He has served for two tours in Iraq, and currently serves as the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg – so when it comes to leadership, few are more qualified to offer tips. Many of his statements relate directly to the military, but even executives and employees working high-level or managerial finance positions, like investor relations jobs, will be sure to glean valuable knowledge from his words.

1. Care about your ‘soldiers’
First off: Anderson told us that all great leaders put their workers before themselves. Whether you’re working in the military or in an office, it’s important to care about your “soldiers” more than you do anything else. If you do, those workers will pay you back with their greatest efforts.

“The army is about people, and the only reason most leaders stay is for their soldiers,” Anderson told us. “It’s always about keeping them trained, prepared and ready to do whatever our nation asks them to go do.”

2. Know that everyone’s intimidated by their first day on the job
Even a Lieutenant General gets spooked by the size of their responsibilities on the first day of the job. He advises that leaders take account of themselves – of their talents and their mission – in order to get a grasp on the tasks at hand, and their enormity.

“You go, ‘Wow, am I ready for this, am I prepared for this, am I going to be able to do this?'” he explained to us, when recalling one of his first days working his post. “But from the second you take [command,] you don’t really have any time to be second guessing yourself. If you’re not focused on what the mission is, the path you’re going to take to get there through your training and development of your soldiers, then you’re going to be in trouble.”

3. Being confident is the key to success
According to our interview, there’s another factor that’s just as important as preparation: a leader’s confidence in themselves, in their employees and also in their superiors. According to Anderson, confidence breeds success.

“You have to be confident in your abilities,” he professed to OneWire CEO Skiddy von Stade. “You have to be confident in your training, you have to be confident in all your senior leaders and your soldiers. Obviously if fear overcomes you, you’re not going to be very effective.”

4. Education is everything
The General concluded his interview by telling von Stade that he feels the most important step to success is education. Those who focus on their education will surely find success once they move onto the professional sector, according to Anderson.

“I spoke to a high school in California a month ago … what I tell them, first and foremost, is focus on your education,” Anderson stated, when we asked what advice he would offer to the future leaders graduating today. “Continue your education. But what makes our country great is service to your nation. That could be the army, that could be the Peace Corps … I don’t care how you do it … Everyone should contribute in some way, shape or form.”