I recently saw American Sniper in theaters, and it left quite an impression on me. The story celebrates U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s journey as the most lethal sniper in American history. Nominated for six Oscars, this critically acclaimed movie got me thinking about the military’s strong culture.
And while the military is a unique organization, the lessons we can learn about its culture are universal. From their aligned values to the importance of peers, these concepts can be applied to any work environment.
Living With Values
Everyone joins the military for different reasons. Kyle joined after an injury ended his rodeo career, other comrades joined to protect their country, and some might have even joined for glory.
Whatever the reason for joining, the military’s training helps enforce the organizational culture and values through team-building exercises and personal development. Commitment, courage, sacrifice, patriotism—these are the values that each comrade goes into battle with.
Managers need to embrace their organization’s values in order to reinforce them with their employees. Because just having values means nothing—you need to live by them to make them worthwhile.
Power Of Peers
As a sniper, Kyle’s responsibility was to protect his peers. In one scene, he was on a rooftop looking out while a marine unit performed house-to-house searches. Believing that he couldn’t protect his peers once they entered the house, he abandoned his post and joined the Marines on the ground.
In another scene, one of Kyle’s men, Marc, started feeling regret about the war and joining the military. Kyle reinforced the value of patriotism and how, in the end, they’re working to protect their families. This boosted Marc’s morale and motivated him to go back into combat.
Camaraderie is the glue that binds people in the military. It provides a sense of community so everyone can work together to accomplish the same mission. And organizations need to make sure that the people they recruit embody their values so everyone is on the same page.
Peers are one of the biggest motivators in the workplace. Despite the dire situations the military faces, these people are willing to go the extra mile to support their comrades. But in order to create a close-knit community, managers must align their organizational culture by embracing their values and hire for fit so everyone shares the same beliefs.