USAA Tips: Demonstrate your military values at work every day

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

Military skills are invaluable at work. Every day, I rarely talk at all about my military background. I show my military values in the workplace to make a difference to employees, customers, and the future of my company.

I learned the value of quiet demonstration at the rifle range. As a young infantry 2nd lieutenant, I sought out the soldier who talked about shooting the most. Guess what: my shooting did not improve. The next time at the range, I looked at the targets first. I discovered a quiet, older non-commissioned officer towards the end of the range who was patiently helping others to shoot better. A lot better. He performed his task with humility, respect, integrity, and without equal. I learned a lot about how to be great in the workplace that day at the rifle range.


Leaders who treat their peers, subordinates and superiors with respect are the people that others most want to follow. In the military, I saw the leaders that treated the junior soldiers with the same level of respect as a general were the ones I wanted to follow.


Do you talk about it or do you do it? A simple question that really tells more about you in the workplace than anything else. Humility is doing your job and helping others do theirs without expecting immediate reward or recognition. In the military, remember the person that took the machine gun at mile 20 of a 25-mile road march? That is humility. Humility helps in the workplace because the focus remains on the work and not on the person.

Honesty and integrity

Honesty is telling the truth and integrity is acting in a consistent, truthful manner. We need honesty and integrity in the workplace because organizations can only improve, innovate, and create when problems are clearly, plainly, and specifically stated. We cannot improve if we cannot have an honest, open, and insightful conversation about what needs to be done.

Mission first and people always

I love this quote from the U.S. Army because it perfectly balances that we must always be present and focused on what we are here to do: accomplish the mission. It also clearly recognizes that the mission will never be accomplished unless we develop, lead, and appreciate the very people accomplishing the mission. Mission accomplishment and caring for the team go hand in hand.

Good humored adaptability

Humor and change go hand-in-hand in the military, no matter what branch of service. No one in the military ever woke up and accomplished precisely what the plan dictated. Weather, resources, mission changes, enemy forces, and local populations are all changing constantly which demand that plans adapt and change. Military members embrace these changes with a good nature, humor, and initiative that is a compelling leadership trait. Business is no different – competitors take actions, resource allocations change, markets shift, and people’s purchase preference change. The point is to adapt quickly, confidently, and with a good disposition to the changes.