This week’s guest post is from Mike Sanders:
Even those who have never served in an elite military unit can respect and admire the hard work and constitution required to become a Navy SEAL. However, not only is becoming a SEAL about effort, fortitude, and discipline, it’s also about management and leadership. Some may assume that the military is a rigid, hierarchical organization with none of the flexibility required to manage and lead salaried employees. As a result, few businessmen see the military as an organization they can learn from. However, there are many parallels between leadership in the civilian world and that in the armed forces, here are 5 such team leading skills you can learn from the Navy SEALs:
1. Create Structure
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The most fundamental part of leadership is providing structure for those you wish to lead. If your directives are clear and concise, your employees will follow. Like any military outfit, the Navy SEALs have core policies, procedures and values that all who serve must abide by. Moreover, each mission is comprised of simple and realistic goals that are difficult to execute but not impossible with training and discipline. As a business owner or CEO, the idea is to challenge your employees without putting them in a position where they feel they are being overburdened.
2. Organization Building
The Navy SEALs are famous not only for their heroics but the difficulty of their training and selection process. Many elite soldiers fail to meet their rigorous standards, and is the primary reason they are considered one of the best fighting forces in the world. The Navy SEALs can teach business owners much about recruiting, training, and supervision, and how by taking an active part in interviews and selecting employees, you can make better decisions and demonstrate leadership throughout your organization.
3. Encourage Progressive Thinking
Like in business, the military must constantly adapt and stay on the cutting edge. The opposition is constantly shifting its tactics, and the military must also rethink their strategy and stay flexible to survive. A Navy SEAL’s training is never fully complete, as they must constantly evolve their regimen to the information and intelligence the government acquires. A business owner must do the same with his or her employees. They must constantly keep them focused and thinking of creative ways to help the business. Organize meetings where the group can brainstorm and discuss the latest developments in the industry.
3. Leadership is a Skill
Many leaders in the Navy SEALs were not born with some magical property that allows them to lead. Managing and leading people comes from experience, risk taking and taking personal responsibility for failure and success. It is a skill that can be developed with time and hard work. The same is true for business.
4. Alleviating Pressure
Navy SEALs are asked to handle extreme pressure as lives often depend on the outcome of a mission. In the business world, one’s financial livelihood is also at risk based on how well you and your employees handle the pressure of the work day. While the two aren’t exactly equitable, a business can learn a lot based not on how Navy SEALs perform in the field, but how they keep a loose environment between missions.
5. Teaching Teamwork
Above all other things, the Navy SEALs stress teamwork. They use team building exercises to emphasize how each person is a valuable link in the chain, and how to avoid the confusion caused by hierarchical misconception. As business is both emotionally and mentally challenging, having the ability to rely on each other is an important aspect of a strong company.
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