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Why Veterans Make Ideal Leaders

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Why Veterans Make Ideal Leaders

​Many veterans find themselves in a tricky position when they leave the forces: They’re overqualified for entry-level roles, but they struggle to land leadership positions. Why is this? Veterans are natural leaders with unique skill sets that enable them to thrive in high-pressure, fast-moving environments.

Veteran-friendly employers are experts at subverting the traditional recruitment methods (more on that later). They can look beyond arbitrary academic requirements and industry experience to uncover what matters most: transferrable skills.

This creates access to career opportunities for would-be leaders, while at the same time, enabling businesses to benefit from the incredible skills veterans bring to the table. Here’s why veterans make for ideal leaders in the civilian workplace.


Thinking critically and creatively to find innovative solutions to complex problems is commonplace in the military. Veterans are taught to nurture this skill as early as basic training.

Critical thinking is essential in any meaningful decision-making role; it’s a key trait that drives progress and defines capable leaders. Moreover, veterans are used to doing this in teams with limited access to resources under extreme pressure (often in life-threatening environments).

Mission-Oriented Selflessness

Veterans are trained to be mission-driven, selfless, and autonomous, all high-quality traits for a high-quality leader on civvy street. Veterans are used to delivering quantifiable results while working on tight deadlines towards tough goals, and they’ve done it all by putting the needs of their team before their own, a stellar addition to the CV.


Military personnel are used to exhibiting unparalleled adaptability, day in and day out. This often involves making split-second decisions to respond effectively to the influx of new information in dynamic environments – it sounds like the requirements of a corporate job description, except the reality will be far less intense than the one a veteran is used to.

Adaptability is a core leadership skill that employers are increasingly seeking in 2024. Between the advent of new AI-enabled technology and growing regulatory complexity, the business landscape is changing quickly, making adaptability in leadership more important than ever before.


Veterans are shaped in a culture that celebrates and trains perseverance, determination, and resilience. The military equips people with mental and physical resilience through a combination of world-class training, mental health support programmes, and the very nature of armed service.

Great leaders can be relied on to make difficult, potentially life-altering decisions, the effects of which can be wide-reaching. It takes true resilience and emotional hardiness to take on this responsibility in a leadership capacity, and veterans are no strangers to doing so.

Creating Access to Exceptional Veteran Talent

To benefit from the incredible skills veterans have to offer, you must develop an end-to-end recruitment process that caters for their unique needs and experiences.

In many cases, this means prioritising skills over experience. A veteran (particularly someone transitioning out of the military for the first time) might not have the industry-specific experience that you’re looking for, but this shouldn’t count them out of the conversation.

The best candidates are coachable, and in the case of veterans, their transferrable skills often outweigh the practical value of industry experience. Naturally, this won’t always be relevant, but it depends on the role.

Effective communication is invaluable – often, veterans have a hard time translating their military skills to the civilian setting. Hiring managers hoping to secure top veteran talent should recognise this difficulty and practice patience, emotional intelligence and understanding.

If you’re hoping to hire a veteran but don’t know where to start, the team at Ex-Military Careers is here to help. We’ve helped hundreds of veterans find meaningful work over the years, and we know what it takes to build the recruitment process that unlocks their potential. Reach out to the team today to find out more about our community-led recruitment services