Jake Wood of Team Rubicon Talks Leadership

Posted October 10, 2012

By: Jake Wood, US Marine Corps Veteran 

President and Co-Founder of Team Rubicon


America’s military has long taken pride in its ability to mint leaders within its officer corps, and with good reason.  Former United States military officers have for years been the backbone of leadership in the civilian sector, as highlighted in a recent Fortune article showcasing Fortune 500 CEOs who were veterans.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued this tradition, producing some of the finest military officers of the last 100 years.  The Global War on Terror is unique, however, in that it has also thrust the mantle of leadership in unprecedented proportion onto the enlisted ranks.  More so now than in any war in our past, enlisted corporals and sergeants—many barely out of high school– have been the individual responsible for planning, leading and executing patrol after patrol.  This enormous amount of responsibility, which includes maintaining the morale and welfare of around twelve men and women in addition to winning battles, has created a leadership surplus that is leaving the military every day.

What this means for our society is simple, yet often lost on most: we are sitting on a tremendous and untapped asset.

No longer is strong leadership and high moral character embodied only in Military Academy graduates and ROTC scholars, but is exemplified by the former high school graduate who found the purpose and community in the  military that was necessary to cultivate his or her leadership strength.  With nearly 3 million veterans returning to communities from Iraq and Afghanistan, the vast majority of whom were enlisted troops, it’s important for our country to realize this fact and capitalize on it.

Need someone to run the graveyard shift at the plant?  Who better than the former infantry squad leader who is familiar with working long into the night?  Have a special project that will require a manager to pull together diverse resources?  Who better than the Army Specialist that led an embedded training team to train Afghan Police forces?  These positions don’t require pedigree or advanced degrees; they require persistence, execution and moxy.  They require leadership.

Fortunate for America’s industries, veterans of the enlisted ranks have leadership in spades.