Business Solutions         August 2009

Q: As a leader how do I maintain my motivation?

Let me say, I have always believed, you either have motivation or you don't. That's not to say that just because you are not what might be described as a highly motivated person, you can't mobilise yourself to take on a specific project requiring considerable personal motivation to see it through.

The most motivated people I have known are those raised in a competitive environment and are blessed with the right genes.

Nevertheless maintaining motivation still requires personal disciplines. In my case, I have practiced a personal fitness regime throughout my adult life which commences at 5:30 am with a 10 kilometre run followed by an 800 metre swim in the ocean before work each morning. At the age of 76, my day still commences with the run and swim. In winter, this requires real motivation.


The finest leaders I have known or studied in the Military, Politics, Business or Sport all possess a number of very similar characteristics. Each has:

  • Excellent Communication Skills
  • Courage
  • Enormous Energy
  • Confidence and Self Esteem
  • Common Sense
  • Leads by Example

Interestingly all of the above characteristics can be acquired which re-enforces the age old adage that ‘leaders are made not born'.

These characteristics can be adapted to compliment individual personalities. Never has this been more apparent than when examining the personalities of the two great American military leaders of World War 2. While General Douglas MacArthur had a massive ego and was described as the American Caesar, General Dwight Eisenhower was a very humble self effacing individual the complete opposite of MacArthur. Yet both had excellent communication skills, immense courage, incredible energy, confidence and self esteem, and lead by example. Both became heroes of the 20th Century with MacArthur going on to become the proconsul of Japan after World War 2, overseeing its new constitution and the establishment of a democratically elected government while Eisenhower became the 34th president of the United States.

In my opinion military leadership principals are suitable and readily transferrable to the business sector. I clearly remember a quotation by a business leader who said: "Managers are people who do things right while leaders are people who do the right thing".

Having spent 3 years in the US Military I'm personally aware of their leadership principals and applied them throughout my business career. These principals are simply, "a leader should be physically and mentally tough, multi-faceted, self aware and loyal up and down the chain of command". How appropriate is that for business today?

In both the military and business environment, to be an effective leader your followers must have trust in you. In this day and age you can't demand respect you have to earn it.

Every great leader I have come across or studied has had a clear vision of where they wanted to be at a predetermined period in time and was able to articulately COMMUNICATE this vision to their team and how it was to be accomplished. They possess the energy to not only maintain their own exhausting work programme but to constantly ENERGISE their troops. This coupled with the COURAGE to persevere, sometimes against insurmountable odds, to accomplish great things epitomises leadership. The application of COMMON SENSE and CONFIDENCE to LEAD BY EXAMPLE and then take responsibility for your actions completes my profile of a modern day business leader.

In summation, Stonewall Jackson one of America's most gifted military commanders summed up leadership as follows: "the ability to prepare or get ready to fight, skill in actual fighting and the will to prevail in combat against a foe are the critical dimensions of leadership".

These principals are equally applicable to business leader's and in my opinion, answers the question with a big YES, as to whether the military model of leadership can apply to business organisations.


Bob Ansett was interviewed recently on Sky News, on the Business Channel


Bob Ansett in the ABC-hosted debate on De-amalgamation, held on the Sunshine Coast.  Bob and 'Friends of Noosa' went on to win victory in a historic vote in March 2013 that saw a landslide 80% in favour.  Read more.