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Søren Sjøgren
Works at Danish Army
Attended Royal Danish Officers Academy
Lived in Copenhagen
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Søren Sjøgren

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What business leaders might learn from the military

You're probably not leading troops on a special forces raid. But the principles espoused by elite military units can help you become a better leader.

Admiral William McRaven. the man who planned and commanded the raid on Osama Bin Laden, shares his ideas on #leadership:
1. It's about people
2. Challenge your team
3. Learn from failure
4. Take smart risks
5. Be a good follower
6. Work for the greater good
7. Go toward the action

On a personal side note: While all seven points are perfectly valid I think no 7 is the most important. It is the premise of leadership. Without the ability or willingness to lead from the front the leader will loose his or her followers quickly. In the best case some one else will step up and resume the responsibility worst case: the unit will be destroyed.
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Must read: Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who hid in a Philippine jungle for decades dies at 91.

Extraordinary story about devotion and dedication. A man caught in a time pocket in the jungle until 1974 returning to Japan to find everything changed.
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I read it in the news as well, I remember he still got some press when I was a kid. Very interesting to read the conclution to tje story.
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Søren Sjøgren

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Today marks the start of four months of parental leave. The last day at the squadron was used to take two of our Friesian horses in the terrain with a fellow officer.

Several months of parental leave is not common in the Danish army. However, none of us are in-expendable. The other leaders in the squadron have been trained to think and make decisions for themselves.

Surely I will miss the employees. I will miss the horses.

But I also look forward to commit and connect with my youngest, now 8 months old. And my wife looks forward to get back to work.
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LOL  I'm starting to fall in love with you!  A Bromance it is then.
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Søren Sjøgren

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To all my dear Google+ friends:
Happy new year 2014

Thanks for sharing your ideas and discussing others in a respectful manner.
Thanks for all the interesting posts.
Thanks for the thoughtful comments.
Thanks for every single +1 and reshare.
Thanks for 2013.

Let's continue along that path and make this community even better in 2014.

Harpy new year and stay safe.

A special and personal thanks for 2013 to:
+Walter H Groth for sharing interesting articles on leadership and always providing his own practical perspective.
+Tamara Schenk for thoughtful comments and interesting articles on leadership and sales.
+Karin Sebelin for her inspirational quotes and unique emphatic insight.

Walter H Groth's profile photoTamara Schenk's profile photo
Thank you +Søren Sjøgren! Wishing you a healthy, happy, joyful, playful, creative and successful new year! 
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Søren Sjøgren

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My scribblings of 2013 in review
2013 became the my debut as a guest blogger. The first was at Denmark's largest blog on communication BRO. After that others followed. I have picked three posts that define 2013 to me:

Lead from the font:
This is one of the topics I care most about. In combat leading from the front is the only thing that will get your troops going in the long run. Don't tell 'em, show 'em.

How to lead infantrywomen in combat:
On November 20, 2013 the first women passed US Marine Corps' infantry course. Soon US junior officers will have to face the challenge of leading mixed gender combat units. In this short guest post I shared my experience.
This post was by far my most read and discussed post of 2013.

Five characteristics of a great combat leader
My first guest post at Denmark's largest communications blog. I initially published another version of this post on my own Danish blog. A few days later I was approached by one of the editors at BRO who kindly asked if I would share it with their audience. I rewrote it and submitted it. 

It is currently only available in Danish. However, I will publish an English version as the first post in 2014 on January 10:
5 kendetegn ved den gode leder i krig:
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Thanks +Walter H Groth. Much appreciated.
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Søren Sjøgren

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Be careful if you try to draw lessons from industries you do not fully understand.

In a LinkedIn article Harvard Professor Michael Wheeler surggests that the unlawful killing of a wounded insurgent in Afghanistan by a British Royal Marine could have been prevented if somebody had uttered the phrase "Marines don't do that". The post has drawn a lot of response from former and current service members basically arguing that Wheeler does not know enough about this subject.

My own concerns are on the premises of the article. The battlefield is difficult to understand to people who have not been in war or studied it extensively. And even to us it is still difficult to grasp. Read on:

The phrase “We (Marines) don’t to that” would work well to interrupt most situations. Referring to our core values in a direct manner is a strong argument. However, there two premises for that to work: 
1. We have must know what is it we do/don’t do. There are certain rules in war but just because something is legit it does not have to be right. I have always discussed moral dilemmas with my soldiers using three questions.
- Is it legal? 
- Is it proportional? 
- Does it feel right?
But discussion alone is not enough. Values are not incorporated via a PowerPoint slide. They have to be lived everyday by the leaders in the organization. 
2. For a marine to utter that phrase “Marines don’t do that” he must be able to think rationally. When the body is full of adrenalin the pulse is pushed higher and thus we are not able to think rationally. Overlooking this fact seems to be the bulk of the criticism. In such tense situations a simple order or command that has been trained over and over again would work better than trying to spur reflection.

In the rational domain the phrase works well. In the emotional domain something else is needed.

Ethics are especially important in combat leadership. Ethics are what guide the combat leader and moral courage what helps him follow through.

Military leaders can learn a lot from business leaders and vice versa. We are never too old to learn. However, we should never try to conduct a 20/20 hindsight analysis in businesses we do not fully understand.
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+Tamara Schenk I like your description provided here. And yes, it is above and beyond "complex sales". It is the way you approach a problem, you study the problem, and the you understand the problem. And understanding involves the context. Regarding relevance: When it is not relevant, then it's not a problem. The next question would be "could it become relevant if I do nothing", for instance. What you describe is a starting point when drafting a strategy. And indeed, there is a lot of critical thinking required then ... 
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Have him in circles
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Danish soldiers wounded in Afghanistan

This morning three Danish engineer soldiers were wounded as their armoured vehicle was struck by a vehicle born bomb south of Geresk in the Helmand province.

In summer 2013 the last Danish infantry company was withdrawn from #Afghanistan  and the Danish soldiers should focus their efforts on supporting and training of the Afghan security forces. In the media it was generally referred that the Danes now suffered less risk. Some even claimed that the war was over.

For the troops on the ground, however, risk neither more nor less. It is ever present and every soldier knot that it is never over until it is over. The leaders must always maintain focus on the objective and constantly evaluate the risk. 

On a personal note: I had a similar experience in Iraq as part of the last Danish combat troops stationed there in 2007. We escorted the very last column out of Iraq. And the column was attacked on the way out.

Whereever there are soldiers stationed there is a risk.
We know - I would hope that the Media were better at explaining that too.

Have a speedy recovery soldiers. 

More in Dansh from Army Operational Command:
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Søren Sjøgren

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Amusing guide:
How to look like a Dane

I normally find the idea about stereotypes rather unflattering. They can be obstacles when we try to understand others. However, this is used in a fun and amusing way.
Well worth a read.

Fact: I also wear Converse All Stars. 
Jesper Nerløe's profile photoNina Jenrich Lind's profile photo
This was fun to read. And I guess there are a lot of truth in it as well.
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Five characteristics of a great combat leader

In this new post I hcae tried to outline some characteristics of a great combat leader. In short the best leaders:
- Leads from the front
- Keeps calm and avoids panic
- Copes with uncertainty and chaos
- Maintains focus on the objective
- Knows the intent

What about the best leaders in your industry. De they have some of the same characteristics or do others apply?
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Thanks +Sonny Mikeal. I might change it then.
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Søren Sjøgren

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The Danish Guard Hussars mounted squadron parading at the Queen's palace in Copenhagen this morning.
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So's the Tivoli guard, but without the horse poo ;)
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Søren Sjøgren

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Good leaders thrive in uncertainty
Good leadership is often describes in action words: Leaders makes decisions. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem I have found that learning to embrace uncertainty and accepting not to know all the answers, and at times not deciding leads to more creative solutions, creates less stress and grows your employees.

The term is called Negative Capability.
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Uncertainty rules in complex environments. There are those things we know, those we don't know, and then there are those we don't know that we don't know. One never knows all the answers, would be an impossible task. "Not deciding" is also decision one has to make, it's different to being just indecisive. "Not deciding" is a conscious action you take, while being indecisive is a passive reaction making you paralyzed. 
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Søren Sjøgren

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What women want in the workplace
Blogger and US army soldier +Kristin Saling reflects on post I did a few weeks ago on how to lead mixed gender units in combat.
I guess the principles could be apply to any minority and probably most industries as well.

Her article is found here:
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Ok that still doesn't explain what "allow women to be women" mean. In fact I am going to downgrade my original opposition to this from "female pandering" to "meaningless trendy slogan".
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Have him in circles
1,110 people
Army Officer | Public speaker | Writer
  • Danish Army
    2000 - present
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Copenhagen - Nykøbing F - Basra - Geresk
Army Officer | Writer | Public speaker - I use my experience to help leaders grow themselves and their teams.
I am a Danish army officer with front line experience leading troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am a public speaker on leadership in combat and share my own experiences as a soldier.
I also blog about combat leadership.

Here on Google+ I share articles and blog posts that will give you a better understanding of the fighting men and women on the ground. I participate in debates on the use of social media and other things I might find interesting.
I post in English and respond in English, Danish or German.

I am a family man; married with two children. I run, I bike, I am a crossfitter and I swim in the ocean all year.

Can I help you with anything? Connect with me.

Soren Sjogren
Officer | Writer | Speaker

------- Danish -------

Jeg er officer
i hæren og blogger om ledelse. Jeg holder foredrag om mine erfaringer fra at føre soldater i kamp i Irak og Afghanistan.

På Google+ deler jeg artikler og blogindlæg, som vil give dig et indblik i hvordan det er er at være i krig og give dig eksempler på praktiske erfaringer med ledelse af mennesker.

Og jeg deltager i debatter om anvendelsen af sociale medier samt hvad jeg eller finder interessant.

"Jeg er soldat.
Jeg er officer og har været delingsfører i Irak og Afghanistan.
I årene 2007-2009 har jeg været i krig i 12 måneder. Og sammen med mine egne soldater og med engelske, amerikanske, afghanske og irakiske soldater været i talrige ildkampe, gået og kørt hundredvis af patruljer og ført angreb mod fjenden.
Jeg har selv haft støvlerne på.”

Citatet stammer fra min bog, Med støvlerne på - i krig i Irak og Afghanistan, Gyldendal 2011.

Du kan finde beskrivelser af mine foredrag her:

Desuden er jeg:
Familie far | Cross fitter | Løber | Vinterbader

Kan jeg hjælpe dig med noget? Kontakt mig.

Søren Sjøgren
Officer, forfatter og foredragsholder
Tlf: 3695 3322

  • Royal Danish Officers Academy
    Advanced officers course, 2011 - 2012
  • Royal Danish Officers Academy
    Officers basic training, 2002 - 2005
  • Business College Nykoebing F
    Hhx, 1996 - 1999
  • CBS
    Enkeltfag fra HD 1. del, 2009 - 2010
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Soren Sjogren