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Cramer: Successful CEOs and military leaders have these 5 traits in common

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer listed five traits that some CEOs share with the military that tend to help them succeed in the long term.
  • In a special Veterans Day show from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Cramer pointed out some CEOs that have led their companies to greatness with these traits.
  • Characteristics like loyalty and attention to detail can help executives prevail over headwinds, Cramer said.

CNBC's Jim Cramer has noticed that some folks on Wall Street find it difficult to reconcile how veterans relate to the world of business.

"I think there is some commonality, because leading an enterprise these days is all about the same processes that cadets learn here," the "Mad Money" host said from a special Veterans Day show held at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

"No wonder veterans do so well in business," he continued. "A winning strategy is a winning strategy — doesn't matter whether you're talking about the military or the private sector."

On a difficult day for the major averages, which slid on reports of a Senate Republican proposal to push tax reform back to 2019, Cramer thought it was important to note some key traits often taught to the military that have helped executives lead their companies through hard times.

1. Leadership

Strong leaders who have sound strategies for beating their competition tend to prevail in business, Cramer said.

"It's the person at the top who defines how an institution works," he said. "Strong leaders translate into companies with stocks that outperform. And we see it all the time. We see it at PepsiCo with Indra Nooyi or at Apple with Tim Cook or at Johnson & Johnson, which is led by West Point graduate Alex Gorsky."

2. First-mover advantage

Leaders can prevail both in the military and in the private sector if they know what it takes to be ahead of the game and beat their rivals to the punch, the "Mad Money" host said.

Companies like Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet have used technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning to take their places at the top of the tech market, he added.

3. Loyalty

Big bank CEOs like JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein have succeeded thanks to the loyalty they have to their institutions, Cramer said.

The "Mad Money" host said their loyalty was "forged in fire" since they led their companies through the 2008 financial crisis, which marked the worst economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression.

"By the way, I know you rarely hear about situations where bankers are the good guys, but ... other than defense contractors, no other industry has a commitment to hiring veterans like the banks. They do so not out of the goodness of their hearts but because they value leadership, grace under pressure and loyalty to the institution," Cramer said.

4. Attention to detail

Like West Point cadets and millions of U.S. veterans, successful CEOs also tend to have meticulous attention to detail.

Thinking strategically about clear objectives is a central principle taught to U.S. troops, and Cramer argued that the skill is totally transferable to Wall Street.

5. Thriving under pressure

Finally, winning CEOs and troops alike thrive under pressure, Cramer said.

"They are by nature optimistic, but they're skeptical. They trust the process and they know the institution must be preserved," the "Mad Money" host said.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the world's best CEOs know that it takes more than just earnings per share to put their companies in a class above the rest. It takes community participation and the ability to make hard choices on the behalf of all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

"There are many different kinds of service, but the best companies can all foster environments that produce people who say, 'Bring on the pressure, we'll handle it as a team,'" Cramer said. "The bottom line is that long term, companies with leadership, first-mover advantage, loyalty to the institution, attention to detail, and grace under pressure will usually prevail over their adversaries and preserve those institutions. So when you find a company with these traits ... you stick with it over the long haul and trust that they can triumph over any short-term headwinds that come their way."

WATCH: Cramer ticks down the traits of successful leaders

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of PepsiCo, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet.

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