Do CEOs with Military Experience Outperform Others?

Since the military produces many leaders, it’s no wonder that many go on to work in business (though that number is lower than you might imagine). So how does military service translate into better serving of shareholders from the C-suite? In the stereotypical view of military life, a few people at the top give commands, and everyone down the line salutes and does what he or she is told. But if that picture was ever true it is certainly not true anymore.

Since the military produces many leaders, it’s no wonder that many go on to work in business. That number, however, is dropping rapidly.

Here’s a list of 10 Fortune 500 CEOs who have served in the military (in order of Fortune 500 ranking from highest to lowest):

  1. ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva
  2. General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson
  3. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam
  4. P&G CEO Robert McDonald
  5. Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky
  6. Lockheeed Martin CEO Robert Stevens
  7. FedEx CEO Fred Smith
  8. McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner
  9. USAA CEO Josue Robles
  10. Casey’s General Stores CEO Robert Myers

So how does military service translate into better serving of shareholders from the C-suite? In the stereotypical view of military life, a few people at the top give commands, and everyone down the line salutes and does what he or she is told. But if that picture was ever true it is certainly not true anymore.

The number of CEOs with military experience has drastically decreased over the last 30 years, according to an article by Slate. In the 1980s, 60 percent of CEOs had military experience; that number has plummeted to 8 percent now. And that drop off in military-turned-business leaders is important, because studies show CEOs who have military experience are 60 percent less likely to commit fraud than other CEOs. And  these military CEOs lead their companies more successfully through  economic downturns than other CEOs.

Military CEOs tend to bring important ethical principles to the C-suite that other CEOs lack. What will happen if the number of military CEOs continues to drop even further?

Read: 10 Fortune 500 Military CEOs
Read: Captains of Industry: Are CEOs who served in the military more trustworthy?
Read: Military CEOs
Read: Military CEOs
Read: CEOs with Military Experience Outperform S&P 500 Index


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