By Sharon Jenks
When it comes to leadership, you can’t learn from anyone better than the SEALs. When the finely tuned leadership methods used by the U.S. Navy SEALs are understood from a business perspective, you can join the ranks of the “best of the best” as a leader that your team would follow in battle or the boardroom. I’ve been privileged to learn from a cadre of former and retired Navy SEALs and distilled these five lessons from those veterans:
1. Act Without Hesitation
SEALs are known for their ability to make decisions quickly and definitively. Their swift decisions can mean life or death in a volatile situation. When running a business, you don’t always know the best course of action so it can be easy to delay until a full analysis is complete. But SEALs practice constant readiness to make strategic decisions without delay. They are ready at a moments notice for some of the hardest decisions anyone has to make.
2. Stealth Movement
SEALs use a Recon Team so their Ops Force can move in without detection. Stealth and surprise offer tremendous advantages since they prevent the opponent from using available defenses, or even becoming the aggressor in the situation. You can place your business rivals at extreme disadvantage when they don’t even know you’re coming. Information leaks about new products or markets can get out and take away the important element of surprise. If a new innovation is going to disrupt your industry, move with stealth and keep your ear to the ground.
3. Strike With Full Impact
When faced with an enemy, SEALs don’t counter with half measures. When leaders are faced with challenges, it is tempting to give warning shots. Instead, the special forces will tell you to strike with full impact so that you are assured your problem will not return. If an employee is bringing the team down with poor work or ethics, fire them immediately. If a department is hemorrhaging funds, cut them off. In the long run, you will be glad to not constantly fight the same issue over and over again.
4. Surround Yourself with the Best
The SEAL teams train extensively for their duties and operate with the knowledge that their cadre is also the best at what they do. Who has your back? Your team should consist of the top talent and have the resources they need to be the best. Empower your team to take on new challenges with the understanding that they will rise up to meet high expectations.
5. Stay True to Your Mission
A game changing mission must be well defined and there must be every expectation that it is achievable. Furthermore, everyone involved in the mission must feel that his or her role is critical to its success. As a leader, defining the mission and focusing on the pursuit of your goal will inspire those around you to believe wholeheartedly in the mission.
The preparation and tactical strategies of the U.S. Navy SEALs aren’t easy to follow. Their lessons can be summed up with this — every day is a hard day, except the one in the rear view mirror. To become a real game changer, whether in business or a military operation, you must commit to hard work and perseverance. The SEALs are the best of the best and through learning from them, you can become a stronger and more effective business leader.
Sharon Jenks is the founder of Strategic Operations Skills Training, an educational experience for executives who want a new, more effective approach to achieving corporate goals. The Jenks Group partnered with former and retired U.S. Navy SEALs to teach executives how to apply the strategic principals that keep Special Ops forces alive and successful on the battlefield to their business with hyper-realistic tactical training.
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