As I sat in the required transition training to leave the military, I was amazed at the level of talent the young men and women in the room possessed. I’m not referring to the people who are retiring but the men and women who are separating after serving between 4 and 8 years. They are articulate, hard working, motivated, organized, and some even running their own company.
It made me think why are these talented people leaving the military?
Two trends seemed to dominate the reasoning. One was their talent and passion was not being used by the military, the other was they were burnt out.
As I sat in class, I started to develop some theories about why such talented people are leaving the service. I do believe the military system for finding and developing people’s talents is outdated. But changing how the military does business is really difficult. So I drilled down a little further and found myself repeating the same word in each theory- leadership.
When people have talent does leadership recognize it?
When people are creative and innovative in their thinking and problem solving does leadership value it?
When people are burnt out, what does leadership do to mitigate stress?
When people get frustrated with work, how does leadership react?
Unfortunately I don’t have any of the answers to these questions, but I recognize that the simplest way to keep the most talented people serving in the military is with great leadership at the lowest level. People say they don’t quit the job, they quit the boss. I would hate to think that the military thinks they are immune to this idea simply because quitting the military isn’t done with a two week notice.