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Military leadership development strategies: implications for training in non-military organizations

Michael Kirchner (Department of Organizational Leadership, Indiana University Purdue University, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA)
Mesut Akdere (Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 26 October 2017

Issue publication date: 21 November 2017



The purpose of this paper is to explore how branches of the USA military conduct leadership development of their members to build on existing knowledge of effective approaches. The military, often credited for its ability to develop leadership competencies, has been overlooked and offers a new context for consideration in training. Training strategies presented may offer organization leaders new insight into enhancing current leadership development programs.


A review of accessible military doctrine in recent decades was conducted to determine leadership development methodology for possible transferability into industry.


The military’s diverse perspectives on service member leadership development offered insightful methods for application in commercial training. Four development strategies were identified and are discussed.

Research limitations/implications

The purpose of the military is unique from non-military organizations and, as such, each of the leadership development training approaches may not be applicable or feasible for traditional employees. Further exploration of leadership development in the US military is required to better understand the impact of the training.


A review of existing literature revealed little evidence of examining the military’s approach to developing leaders, even though employers claim to hire veterans because of their leadership abilities. Each of the identified development components are distinguishable from traditional leadership programs and present readers a series of opportunities to consider.



Kirchner, M. and Akdere, M. (2017), "Military leadership development strategies: implications for training in non-military organizations", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 49 No. 7/8, pp. 357-364.



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