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Business can learn 'clarity of purpose' from military

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Employers have plenty to learn from the military around leadership, long-term strategy and clarity of purpose, according to Symantec VP, head of HR EMEA Mark Norton.

Norton served in the armed forces for almost 20 years, in a career ranging from operational combat leader to military adviser at the Ministry of Defence.

He told HR magazine the army now has a much more innovative approach to leadership, as opposed to the "command and control" approach often associated with the military.

"The leadership model in the army now is very much about empowerment," he said. "People at all levels have to avoid becoming consumed by their challenges issues and focus on long-term strategic goals. In terms of business I'd say it's really helped me gain a sense of perspective."

Norton added that his leadership style at Fortune 500 technology company Symantec is based around a strong focus on nurturing talent, something else prominent in the military model.

"When I came into HR from my background it was the similarities that surprised me more than the differences," he said. "My approach to talent is all about unlocking potential. Identifying what people need, giving them the best opportunities to succeed and building trust."

Performance will "look after itself" if there is a strong leadership in place, according to Norton.

"Performance is driven by the character of the leaders at the top," he added. "Clarity of aim and purpose are crucial and HR has a big part to play in this."