Warrior Mindset in Business: Time to rediscover the “spirit of the warrior”

Those familiar with the term VUCA, will know that it was originally a military acronym, today used widely in business management, to describe a world of non-stop volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It not only describes the uncertainty of the world, but also the nature of an increasingly unpredictable and dynamic world. The age of VUCA is upon us. As the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the world and further uncertainty as to what is yet to unfold, we step into territory for which there is no instruction manual to refer to. Now is the time to adopt the Warrior Mindset.

Warrior is a noun that refers to a soldier or someone who is involved in a fight. The word warrior comes from Old North French ‘werreier’ (Old French guerroieor) meaning soldier, first appearing in English in the 14th century. Although the term ‘warrior’ appears to have enjoyed a resurgence over the last two decades — modern-day soldiers generally aren’t called warriors — its meaning is a hallmark of tribal society, which in Europe is historic. Consequently, this term would generally not apply to soldiers of ‘western’ European countries from the last few centuries, such as that of Great Britain (who at its peak was the world’s most dominant power, controlling almost a quarter of the world’s population and land, with the phrase “the empire on which the sun never sets” often used to describe the British Empire, as the vast conquered territory meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories)or say France (who was Great Britain’s largest rival during the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815)). The key here is that “warriors” and “soldiers” are not automatically synonymous, but interrelated, with the last of the so-called European historical or traditional warriors dating arguably to the 11th century (Viking warriors, Celtic warriors).

Indeed there was a time when sons of the ‘western world’ were born to be warriors, upholding the ‘warrior code’ and passing it on to their offspring. At some point though the western man appears to have forgotten this way of life… replacing it with complacency seemingly suited for a new world of convenience…

Most of the world may have forgotten their warrior instinct… However, on the African continent; the traditional warrior, in the classical sense, existed in the very recent past. The last of these warriors, being as recent as just the previous century. When asked to name a warrior — most people around the world would likely think of the mighty Zulu King Shaka (1787–1828), with little or limited knowledge of other great warriors in other parts of the world. Shaka is generally regarded as one of the greatest military tacticians ever produced in South Africa, if not the whole of Africa.



The Ultimate “Classic” Warrior: Shaka


However, let us not forget…

Although most people associate being a warrior with fighting and hunting, these are the most basic actions through which a warrior’s strength is expressed. The fundamental principles of a warrior can apply to all aspects of one’s life, as well all professional fields — not only military — but also to areas such as business or sports. Indeed the blood of their recent warrior ancestors may be running in the veins of the children of Africa today, but these skills are transferable, with anyone able to learn how to adopt a Warrior Mindset. It is this mindset that distinguishes the warrior: separating the victor from the vanquished. The first conquest for any person should be the mastering of their mind, or as Sun Tzu put it:


According to Lt Col Dave Grossman of the US Army, in his book “Warrior Mindset”, “In the end, it’s not about the ‘hardware’, it’s about the software. Amateurs talk about hardware or equipment, professionals talk about software or training or mental readiness.” It is clear that mental readiness is key for the Warrior Mindset. Intense physical training, proper eating habits & sufficient sleep are critical components of preparedness towards the development of peak performance, but not enough. To ensure that mental readiness is achievable whenever required, one’s software needs to be optimised. This can be achieved by adopting the warrior code, coupled with mental skills to attain the mindset of a warrior. The US Army’s warrior ethos captures the warrior code:

  • I will always place the mission first.
  • I will never accept defeat.
  • I will never quit.
  • I will never leave a fallen comrade.

A list of five mental skills necessary to live a life of peak performance characterised by mental toughness:

  1. Set high, achievable goals.
  2. Maintain a positive mental attitude.
  3. Use positive mental imagery and mental rehearsal.
  4. Use positive self-talk.
  5. Emotional Response Control to manage negative emotions.

Mental skill exercises ensure preparedness in the form of a positive mind-body connection. Taking control of your mind and your body.

The Centre for Leadership offers a range of courses, group facilitation and coaching to train your leaders and teams in mental toughness to weather these trying times. For tailor-made solutions, please get in touch with us.