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Cockpit to Corporate – Lessons on People Leadership

Source | LinkedIn | Niketh Sundar | Global Head, People Function

Today, the business world is strife with cut-throat competition and a “grow or perish” environment. Therefore in business too, WAR-like strategy, planning, and execution are pivotal. From the strategy for gaining customers and growing, to winning the war for talent, to retention of talent and keeping them engaged through various measures. Many lessons can be learned from the armed forces on the tenets of strategy implementation, people management and leadership.

While the armed services are often thought of as rigid and hierarchical organizations, there is much to learn about purpose, values, teamwork, empowerment and much more. Professionals in the corporate or business world can draw inspiration and learn about management and leadership from the experience of the armed forces. Especially in these times of tough competition and adversity.

In my years of serving in the Indian Navy, as a fighter pilot by specialization and a leader of people operating sophisticated machines, I was constantly learning and training for battle, while also managing processes, systems and operations. I have tried my best to connect the learnings from my military experience to the needs of business and my role in it, resulting in a challenging and rewarding leadership stint so far in the corporate world.

Creating a Sense of Purpose 

There is a lot of focus today, in the business world on People Management. At the beginning of the last century, some of these processes existed in the Armies that managed thousands of troops, though it was not studied as rigorously as today in the corporate sector.

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