“Effective leadership is putting first things first.

Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”  ~ Stephen Covey


After leaving the military in 2001, it took me several years to adapt to the corporate world. The changes varied from the difference in discipline to the style of leadership.

I joined the British Army as a sixteen year old. From the moment I stepped off the train in Pirbright Surrey and was greeted by the barrack room instructor, I realized that my way of life was going to change drastically and probably for the better.

The nine months basic Infantry training was some of the toughest yet rewarding days of my life. The early mornings, late nights and constant barrage of “that’s not good enough” and “well done, keep up the hard work” helped me develop into a 16 / 17 year old man. It was this nine months as well as the remaining thirteen years of my career and the discipline that was engraved into me that helped me adapt to working outside of the military.

Related: How Tabletop Exercises Make Strong Leaders


Practice = Better Discipline


I have worked within the corporate crisis, emergency and security management space since leaving the military in 2001 and have experienced varying degrees of crisis management discipline. Some organizations have well-polished policies and procedures but might lack team capabilities such as leadership and operations center management during emergencies. In other cases, I have experienced organizations that are not as prepared as they should be but are taking the necessary measures to increase their ability to manage and recover from potentially volatile and brand damaging situations. I will often mention to both the well and the less prepared entities that constant and evolving rehearsals will allow them to understand their team’s ability to respond, manage and recover from disasters. Rehearsals (drills and exercises) uncover gaps and increase overall awareness both internally and externally with stakeholders. There are many other benefits to conducting such preparedness rehearsals.

We all need to keep rehearsing and learning from our changing environments to ensure we are as prepared as we can be. This is no different to the military when they prepare for war, counter terrorist or peace time operations.

Rob Burton

Rob Burton

Rob is a Principal at PreparedEx where he manages a team of crisis preparedness professionals and has over 20 years of experience preparing for and responding to crises. Part of his leadership role includes assisting PreparedEx clients in designing, implementing and evaluating crisis, emergency, security and business continuity management programs. During his career Rob has worked for the US State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, as a crisis management consultant in Pakistan and Afghanistan where he negotiated with the UN and Pashtun tribal warlords and he served with the United Kingdom Special Forces where he operated internationally under hazardous covert and confidential conditions. Rob was also part of a disciplined and prestigious unit The Grenadier Guards where he served Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Palaces in London. Rob was a highly trained and experienced infantryman serving in Desert Storm and commanded covert operational teams and was a sniper. Rob has keynoted disaster recovery conferences and participated in live debates on FOX News regarding complex security requirements and terrorism. Rob has a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.