How to Lead Like a Navy SEAL

How to Lead Like a Navy SEAL

Navy SEAL

When you read those two words, what comes to mind?

Words like: tough, decisive, driven, fearless, disciplined?

What can leaders learn from the SEALS?

 

Under incredible conditions, Navy SEALS prove their worth by getting the job done. When I meet a SEAL, I am intrigued because I know this is someone who is proven. Recently, when I had the opportunity to interview Brian “Iron Ed” Hiner, about his new book, First, Fast, Fearless: How to Lead Like a Navy SEAL, I knew I would walk away with many lessons I could apply in business and in life.

 

“When leadership is right, you really don’t see it any more.” -Ed Hiner

 

HIRING LESSONS FROM THE SEALS

Becoming a NAVY SEAL means you have overcome all odds. What can corporate leaders learn from the selection process in terms of hiring and recruiting the very best team possible?

Navy Seal Ed HinerWe have identified four major traits that we look for in a perspective SEAL candidate: physical courage, moral courage, problem solving, and what I call “teamability.” Physical courage is obvious, but moral courage does not rank far behind because we are an organization that relies heavily on trust and for our people to do the right thing for our country.

We also want SEALs to be problem solvers who thrive in what we call VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), an environment often referred to as the “fog of war.” In our Gallop polling, we discovered that chess players are almost four times more likely than non-chess players to successfully make it through Navy SEAL training; chess players are problem solvers, and the board is VUCA writ small.

The last trait that I call “teamability” is a person’s ability to lead and be led, who can move from team to team seamlessly.

The takeaway of this is that hiring and recruiting needs be very deliberate. Organizations that understand the critical traits they need in their employees, and actively recruit for these traits, will be more successful down the road. Obviously all organizations look for skills and experience, but oftentimes they overlook the fundamental traits they actually need to be the elite organization that they wish to be.

 

“Leadership is something you do with people, not to them.” -Ed Hiner

 

PUT MISSION BEFORE SELF

Could you cover teamability a little more and what that means? What methods do you employ to get people to put “mission before me.”

Teamability requires that leaders and team members put mission and team before their own personal interests. When people know that leaders are selflessly making decisions for the team to succeed, and protecting their people along the way, it sets the conditions for teamability. From the beginning of SEALs training we set conditions to reinforce this concept.

In some ways it’s like we turn the pyramid upside down and take care of the broader team mission first and work our way down to the individual. For example, after we finish a mission, we take care of the teams’ common gear first. Then we all split off to our smaller teams and take care of that gear and issues until we get to the individual. This applies to everyone on the team, rank doesn’t matter; the motto is mission before me. This applies everywhere in the SEAL Teams. During staff meetings SEAL Team issues get addressed first, then the smaller Task Unit issues and so forth. It’s a practiced ritual that develops teamability and mission focus. As for the leaders of team, the rank of importance is the Mission, the men and then me. When it’s time to shower and eat, leaders eat last.

When organizations depend on teamwork it’s critical for them to reward the teams that exhibit this trait. In the SEAL Teams your performance review is heavily skewed toward your teamability; we don’t just give it lip service. We reward the traits that we want, to be the elite organization that we need to be. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of just rewarding individual performance at the expense of critical traits that you need for overall mission success.

 

“Servant leadership means that the team is not about you.” -Ed Hiner

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMILITY

You say, “The biggest enemy of humility is our own ego, which is molded by our fears.” Talk about that interplay between fear and ego.IMG_0089

We are an organization of “Alpha males” and high performers, and it’s easy for individuals in any organization with high performers to fall in love with their own ideas and abilities. Elite teams perform at their best when their leaders are humble. It’s an outward indicator that the leader is willing not to fall in love with his or her own ideas but is instead willing to find the best direction for the mission and the team. When leaders are humble and act selflessly it builds trust, and trust is the invisible thread that holds all elite teams together. When this invisible thread is broken and leaders act in their own self-interest, and don’t engage the skills and talents of the team, results will suffer.

We all have fears, and those fears can contribute to shaping our personalities: fear of failure, not being intelligent, shame, etc. Humility is the antidote to those fears. Elite leaders are not worried about being right; they are focused on the cause-and-effect relationship to get results and accomplish the mission.

I’m not saying that people should completely get rid of their egos so that they dance naked in the halls; I’m saying divorce your ego, yet stay friends. Don’t let your ego run your life. As the saying goes, “Humble people don’t think less of themselves, they think of themselves less.”

 

“Be the cause, not the effect.” -Ed Hiner

 

What qualities do you first notice when someone is leading with humility and acting as a servant leader?

Leadership Lessons From the Unusual Story of Market Basket

We Are Market Basket

An Uplifting Corporate Story

We often read stories about corporate greed, about slimy executives, about profits at the expense of people. These stories grab headlines because they hit a nerve and fuel anger. I have never read a story quite like We Are Market Basket: The Story of the Unlikely Grassroots Movement That Saved a Beloved Business where employees and customers joined together to demand the return of a fired CEO.

The story may be unique, but it offers powerful lessons and insight into the changing nature of how we view corporations and what we expect as employees.

I recently spoke with the authors, Daniel Korschun and Grant Welker, about this story.

 

Loyalty is Demonstrated Every Day

This story has so many powerful lessons. One of those is about loyalty. What does the We Are Market Basket teach us about loyalty?

Arthur T. and much of the senior management team have been extraordinarily successful at engendering loyalty. But loyalty at this company tends to be viewed as a two-way street. Employees – they call themselves associates – we speak with tell us that they feel loyal to the company and top management because they feel a loyalty to them from that top management. So what we see at Market Basket is people who are reaffirming their commitment to each other over time. The result is these very strong bonds we see. The lesson for managers is that you can’t expect loyalty without making a sacrifice yourself. You’re not going to gain loyalty just by changing the pay or the job responsibilities; it’s something that has to be demonstrated every day.

 

“You can’t expect loyalty without making a sacrifice yourself.”

 

A Respect for Others

Why did Arthur T. inspire such passion and loyalty?

Arthur T. is beloved as the CEO largely because he gives all associates, customers, and vendors respect. He says explicitly that no one person is special at the company, and from what we’ve seen he walks the walk.

But it’s also important to point out his place in the protest. Bringing back Arthur T. was the central demand of protesters, but in our view, they were fighting to save the company’s culture. Reinstating Arthur T. became the critical step in making sure that this New England institution continued to serve those who have known it for years, and sometimes for generations.

Market Basket 

A Lesson for Boards and Corporate Leaders

What does the Market Basket experience teach boards of directors?

Most business schools today teach that the fiduciary responsibility of directors is to look after the interests of shareholders. However, this idea is simply not supported by the corporate code in Massachusetts and many other states. The code states explicitly that the board is to be a steward of the corporation, which includes customers, employees, shareholders, and others. We need to hold our boards to this higher standard.

Leadership lesson: A corporation’s duties extend beyond shareholders to the broader community.

 

A Commitment to the Community

27 Practices Resilient Leaders Use to Thrive

Survive to Thrive

Struggles, Difficulties & Challenges

Someone once told me that people identify more with your struggles than your successes. It’s true for me, too. It’s hard to identify with those who have seemingly had win after win with no knowledge of the effort it took to make it happen. If you talk with any successful person long enough, you start to uncover the difficulties, the challenges, the struggles, and the failures that happened along the way.

One of my entrepreneurial friends, Faisal Hoque, has a new book out about resilience. Faisal and his co-author, journalist Lydia Dishman, share what they learned studying leaders who have thrived in the midst of adversity.  Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, And Leaders is a journey into resilience.

Faisal recently shared with me more about his latest work.

 

LEARNING TO BE RESILIENT

What is your definition of resilience?

Resilience is the universal human capacity to face, overcome, and even be strengthened by experiences of adversity.

 

“Resiliency is the belief that you can conquer anything.”

 

 survivetothrive

 

Is it possible to learn to be more resilient?

Along with our own life experiences, Lydia and I have examined the stories of a variety of leaders who faced ill health, professional setbacks, emotional loss, and a host of other life-changing events, in order to illustrate how each achieved personal transformation and success by mining their own resilience.

Each story focuses on one of nine essential principles needed to overcome adversity and seize opportunities:

I AM:

  • A person people can like and love
  • Loving and empathetic
  • Willing to be responsible for what I do

I HAVE:

  • People I trust and who love me, no matter what
  • Role models
  • Health, education, and support

I CAN:

  • Communicate
  • Manage feelings and solve problems
  • Seek out trusting relationships

Offered as affirmations for success, we outline take-away lessons and daily practices that can be incorporated in your own professional journey.

 

THE MUST DO’S

Of all of the daily practices you outline in the book, what three are ‘must do’s’ for everyone?

Skip, as you know from your life’s journey, each person’s experiences and challenges are uniquely theirs. And life – personal as well professional – hardly has a formula. What we tried to do is provide contextual learning.

For example, in one of the chapters, we have summed up three key concepts necessary to becoming more authentic and resilient through self-acceptance:

  • self-love
  • self-expression
  • self-confidence

faisal.hoque300dpi2013By practicing self-acceptance, we discover the complexities of our emotions, vulnerabilities, and imperfections. And this is what creates our true authenticity. When we decide to embrace our authentic self, we give ourselves the opportunity to grow.

In an attempt to make these daily practices sustainable for our readers, we have also created a resiliency app.   The Survive To Thrive free app can be accessed at www.SurviveToThrive.pub.

 

“Reinvention is the essence of the resilient mindset.”

 

REINVENTION AND RESILIENCE

10 Commandments of the Dealmaker

HOLLYWOOD: The world famous landmark Hollywood Sig

From Childhood Actor to Dealmaker

Jeff B. Cohen’s story is compelling. The former child actor is best known for his role as “Chunk” in The Goonies. The Goonies debuted and quickly became a classic, but Jeff’s career took a different turn. Adolescence changed both his body and his career trajectory. Now, Jeff is one of the entertainment industry’s prominent transactional attorneys. He co-founded Cohen Gardner LLP and has been named by Variety to its Dealmakers Impact List.

 

“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” -Aristotle

 

Though you may read Jeff’s articles in numerous publications, it’s his book that grabbed my attention. The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments: Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood is a must read for serious negotiators.

Think Chunk meets Machiavelli and you will have a sense of the enduring book he wrote on negotiating. Some are sure to disagree with his philosophy or approach. Some may not like his view of power. Still, the book is a powerful tool for negotiators because it shows a side of negotiating not usually taught in class.

Jeff recently spoke with me about his work, his life as a childhood actor, and his fascinating new book.

 

“He who angers you conquers you.” -Elizabeth Kenny

 

How Your Experience Can Affect Your View

Your story from childhood actor to co-founder of your own Beverly Hills-based law firm makes for great reading. Talk to us about how losing work as a teenage actor impacted your view of power.

Jeff B. CohenAs they say, the beauty of first love is our ignorance that it will ever end. Acting was my first love as a kid, and I was really broken up when I hit puberty and couldn’t get gigs anymore. Fortunately for me, in high school, I found my way to a book written by Niccolo Machiavelli in the early 16th Century called The Prince.

Machiavelli discussed the question “Is it better to be feared or loved?” He comes to the conclusion that it is better to be feared than loved because people fear you because they have to and love you because they want to. A prince can only rely on what he controls.

The book was a revelation to me, because as a performer being loved is your first priority. It showed me that as a business person I would have to view the world differently than I had.

 

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” -Yoda