“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

If you’re considering an international boarding school for your child then a Military School or Academy can be an excellent choice. Not only do these institutions offer all the benefits that you can expect from a high quality boarding school – fantastic teaching standards, a welcoming and friendly community, first-rate facilities – but they also give your child the added advantages associated with cadet training. Military Schools are a fantastic place for children to build their confidence, become independent and improve their relationship building skills – all important characteristics to enable an individual to succeed as a future leader.

But what is it exactly, that constitutes a good leader?

Well, the answer greatly varies depending on who you ask, but there are a number of acquired skills and character traits that are broadly recognised as the qualities of an able leader:

  • Planning – it is the leader’s responsibility to guide a team of people towards a common aim; to unify them, and set them off with a clear, concise direction. Without a structured and co-ordinated plan to drive the group towards a goal, it’s too easy for people to falter from that purpose and get lost along the way.
  • Communicating – forging a plan is one thing, but if the leader does not possess the capacity to communicate it efficiently, the entire planning process is surely futile! But moving beyond the power to speak encouragingly, an effective leader must also be able to listen to the voice of the team, inciting them to reach their full potential. After all, brain power is far more effective in numbers!
  • Motivating – once the team knows exactly where it’s headed and the leader explains everything in necessary detail, it then becomes the team’s duty to motivate and inspire. You can have the best plan in the world and be able to deliver it like a lyrical wordsmith, but if your team can’t be bothered to follow your lead then good luck bearing the weight of the world entirely on your own! A strong leader will always encourage ideas and contributions from each member of the team to wind up with a sound and holistic perspective.
  • Commitment, resolve and perseverance – the good leader is obliged to remain strong in the face of adversity; to beat down barriers, no matter what it takes, and ensure his or her team does not lose sight of the goal.
  • Risk-taking – Be bold, brave and break down those conventions! The great leaders of our time, and even ones that came before, didn’t reach the top by playing it safe. When it comes to climbing Everest, the safest option would be not to climb it at all, but you’d be forever left wondering what the world looks like from its summit. And what has every single successful expedition team had in common? A strong and noble leader.

The qualities of leadership – these and many others – form what are commonly referred to as “soft skills”, the attributes that are championed by the modern-day employer.

“What we see in survey after survey is employers saying qualifications are important, but that just as important to us are so-called soft skills, character skills, the ability to get on with different people, to articulate yourself clearly, confidence, grit, self-control,” notes Nick Hurd, the UK’s former minister for Civil Society. “They are saying we are not seeing enough of this in kids coming out of school.”

There are, however, certain types of people who excel in their command of sought-after soft skills, taking advantage of qualities learned through their regimented training, rigorous education and collaborative abilities to become successful leaders. These students graduate from the very best Military Academies the world has to offer, and their extensive leadership capabilities open doors to the most prestigious universities, and the most outstanding organisations, anywhere in the world.

With this in mind, here are five North American Military Schools producing the leaders of tomorrow:


Located in Roswell, New Mexico’s fifth-largest city, the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) has a tradition of educating future leaders through a program of challenging academics, physical fitness and character development. Commonly known as “The West Point of the West”, NMMI remains the only state-funded, co-educational college-prep high school and junior college in the United States.

NMMI provides more than just an education – it provides an experience, comprising of a demanding set of challenges specially designed not only to grow, but to test a cadet’s talents, abilities and self-confidence. Its curriculum is rich and comprehensive, preparing students to pursue higher education at their chosen institution or delve straight into success in the professional sphere after graduation. All cadets learn within a structured environment that encourages discipline and physical development, while promoting the NMMI motto of “Duty, Honor, Achievement”.

NMMI cadets are pushed to reach beyond their self-imposed limits through academic, leadership and physical activities. The NMMI graduate leaves fully-equipped to conquer the challenges they’ll face in college and throughout later life.


Valley Forge Military Academy & College (VFMAC) is recognised as an international leadership institution, comprised of an outstanding middle school, high school and college. The School is located in Wayne, just 12 miles from the buzz of Philadelphia, and provides a convenient blend of commuting and boarding options.

VFMAC seeks to prepare graduates to become highly qualified citizen leaders, committed to the democratic ideals that underpin an increasingly diverse and interdependent global society. With a long tradition of fostering personal growth, VFMAC cadets are immersed in an exclusive educational experience centred on five cornerstones: academic excellence, character development, personal motivation, physical development and leadership.

The fifth cornerstone- leadership – is focused on employing the dynamics of a military organization in its structured cadet environment. Overall, the Forge experience is one that nurtures the development of individual responsibility and sound leadership skills, providing a wealth of opportunities for students to take charge and apply leadership theory to real-life situations.

VFMAC has a mission to prepare cadets to face responsibility with unfaltering strength and confidence, qualities that seep into every aspect of their lives and drive them towards success.


Missouri Military Academy (MMA) is a preparatory school with a military tradition for boys in grades 6-12. The School is located in central Missouri, the heart of the Midwest, and provides a multi-dimensional education that produces self-confident and well-educated gentlemen.

Whether your son is in middle or high school, Missouri Military Academy can help him maximize his potential thanks to a caring, qualified and dedicated faculty in a safe and structured environment. Character. Athletics. Academics. Leadership. Adventure. These are the pillars of an MMA education, and the reason why students flock to MMA from all over the world to secure an exceptional future for themselves.

All MMA programs aim to produce strong, dominant graduates, instilled with the confidence to not only lead a team of people, but to inspire them as well. MMA cadets strive to reach their full potential and develop skills needed to excel in all they do.


Oak Ridge Military Academy (ORMA) is a community of caring educators and mentors who teach students the timeless values of character, knowledge and influence through leadership training and a structured learning environment. 

For more than 160 years, youth have come from across the United States and around the world to attend ORMA and prepare for university. Upon graduating from the Academy, students possess the determination, self-respect and academic rigor they need to get ahead in life and to positively influence the world around them.  

ORMA is a fantastic option for students who flourish with firm structure. It offers a safe environment where Cadets grow strong in body and in mind. It is also renowned for its superb academic track record; class sizes are small, and the curriculum is modelled around the needs of the individual student.


Confident, independent, and resilient are just some of the words used to describe the Army and Navy Academy Cadet.

Located on the coast in San Diego County, California, the Army & Navy Academy (ANA) provides a comprehensive, preparatory curriculum that is specifically catered to the ways that boys learn best. Interactive lessons, small class sizes, personal attention, and formal leadership training motivate each Cadet to achieve the unachievable.

This combination – leadership education, a college-prep curriculum, and the commitment to teaching in the ways that boys learn best – all adds up to create The Warrior Experience, producing the strong, creative and innovative leaders whose sole purpose is to shape the world of tomorrow.

Honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility, compassion, and gratitude are the cornerstones of the ANA.

Pictures courtesy of New Mexico Military Institute, Valley Forge Military Academy and College, Missouri Military Academy, Oak Ridge Military Academy and Army & Navy Academy