From barracks to boardroom: How Bill Sandbrook parlayed military experience into corporate success

Posted by U.S. Concrete on Aug 16, 2016 5:34:20 PM

(U.S. Concrete) Concrete SmartBrief sat down with our CEO, Bill Sandbrook, to learn how his military career has helped him in his current leadership role as head of U.S. Concrete. Leadership, after all, translates everywhere, whether it's in a military context or a corporate one. Naphtali Hoff, the author of the article, took an interest in Sandbrook, writing that the U.S. Concrete CEO's experience was not that much different than his own. Hoff, a former school leader, translated his leadership into an organizational psychology and executive coach. Sandbrook, given his company's current success, was the perfect case study of leadership transfer.

When Sandbrook took over U.S. Concrete, he first had to address a culture of fear. He overcame a pattern of micromanagement and distrust by instead empowering people. He wanted to make winners out of people that weren't used to winning, an analogy he takes from the military. Once they feel a certain level of success on a personal level, it wouldn't be long before personal success translated into actual success for the company.

Further, Sandbrook says there's an analogy to be made between the marketplace and the battlefield. Critical decisions must be made, often without much time to mull over the choice and without all the information readily available to make the most informed move. Even if the team present isn't the most talented, a good leader should be able to make the most of their strengths.  

One of the most important decisions, one that immediately invoked Sandbrook's military instincts, was in a direct response to the events on 9/11. After learning about the attack, Sandbrook immediately called for the mobilization of a fleet of heavy equipment to begin the process of clearing the grounds. Though he wasn't able to get approval from his superiors at the time, he knew he needed to act and act quickly. This moment would be a career-defining one for him and proof that leadership can be powerful, regardless of its context.  

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