Have you ever wondered if your skills are transferable? Well, that is the question I asked myself when I retired from the military. While I had succeeded as a military officer, I wondered if my knowledge and skills would lead to success in a different industry.

So, when I became a school-based administrator, I wondered if I could use the extensive training I received during my military career. After a few weeks on the job, I had the opportunity to tap into that leadership training.

As a result of several events coming together simultaneously, I became the only administrator on campus. When my principal called me into his office, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. My principal turned to me to my surprise and asked about my plan.

Well, my military training kicked in. Because I had extensive experience developing operational plans and deploying resources, I was able to create and implement a plan to provide coverage for the campus.

While my plan encountered a few challenges, my team successfully overcame every obstacle. After we finished the day, I conducted a short debrief with the team to capture lessons learned.

During our weekly administrative staff meeting, I shared my lessons learned and offered several suggestions on how we could improve. One of my colleagues asked me how did I know what to do? I smiled and said, “ I spent 20 years leading soldiers.”

Later that day, while driving home, I thought about my colleague’s question. Reflecting on my actions, I realized my military experience had prepared me to be an educational leader.

Throughout my educational career, I have been asked multiple times if I believe military leaders can be educational leaders. My response is always a resounding yes! Why? Because they possess many of the essential skills required to lead an educational organization effectively.

For example, military leaders have extensive experience developing and executing strategic plans, managing resources, and leading large groups of people. These skills are essential for any educational leader, and military leaders possess them in spades.

Let me give you three reasons to support my position.

First, military leaders are experienced in developing and executing complex plans. In the military, leaders must develop comprehensive strategies with objectives, timelines, and contingencies. These plans must also be communicated to their teams, who must execute their part.

This type of strategic planning is necessary for educational leaders as well. Educational leaders must create school plans, manage resources, and ensure that their teams have the required materials and guidance to meet their objectives.

Second, military leaders are skilled at managing resources. In the military, resources come in the form of personnel and equipment. The leader must address these resources to ensure the mission is completed successfully.

Educational leaders also need to be able to manage resources. For example, they must ensure that their schools have enough personnel, materials, and funding to support their plans.

Third, military leaders are experienced in leading large groups of people. In the military, leaders must be able to motivate and inspire their teams while providing clear direction and guidance.

This type of leadership is essential for educational leaders, as they must be able to motivate and inspire their teachers, administrators, and students to work together to achieve their goals.

“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.”

-Bill Bradley

Leadership skills are invaluable in the academic setting and are what make military leaders great educational leaders.

Do you know any military leaders who became great educational leaders?


Are you a classroom teacher, school administrator, or central office staff member looking for more guidance? Then join me for the Moore Leadership Moment on YouTube.

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Dr. Kim Moore

About the author

I'm Kim, your Educational Leadership Guide. I equip educational leaders with research-based and experientially learned educational leadership principles and best practices to promote student success.