Veterans Fit Naturally Into Collective Leadership Environments

Employing principles of collective leadership is an emerging trend in the workplace. Although not a new concept, collective leadership champions diverse perspectives and contributions. It leverages internal motivation and shared responsibility when groups work together toward one vision, with everyone using their unique talents and skills to contribute to the process.

This will sound very familiar to a veteran, as the very definition of collective leadership outlines the military experience. The concept that everyone can and should lead has long been the tradition of the military, wherein each branch is essentially a large team that contains many smaller teams. Whether officially designated as a leader or not, every member of even the smallest teams assumes a leadership role at some point. And no one knows better than a veteran what it means to be committed to a mission rather than to individual achievement.

Benefits of Collective Leadership

Collective leadership has been used in a variety of fields, including community development, healthcare, educational leadership, environmental sustainability and science, and nonprofit management. Just a few of the benefits of collective leadership include:

  • Members who are invested in the goal/mission
  • Increased effectiveness
  • Motivated team players
  • Better self direction

When organizations grow their leadership capacity by developing leadership at all levels, they empower employees and make them feel valued, trusted, and motivated. They perform more effectively, think more creatively and can be more innovative.

Veterans Fit Naturally

Similarly, the military understands that people are motivated by autonomy, purpose, and mastery. This means that people are most motivated when they feel trusted to make decisions and develop solutions, when they feel connected to the purpose of their work, and when they can do things that are challenging and that help them to grow and develop. Allowing people opportunities to develop mastery, align with purpose, and increase autonomy increases motivation and satisfaction.

Veterans are trained to understand an important component of collective leadership: success depends on the leadership skills of the whole group rather than just one person. Shifting scenarios and environments forces veterans to be agile, to think on their feet, and to take control of situations. One Marine remarked,

“When something happens you evaluate the situation, create a plan of action, and execute the plan, reevaluate, establish a new plan, and execute the present plan. Veterans never wait for someone else to be a hero. If you are there, you are up.”

Companies that possess the wisdom to hire veterans will gain employees who are already familiar with collective leadership concepts, who are engaged and committed to continuous improvement, and who enrich their organization.


by: Katie Becker