The following points are excepts taken from an earlier article at Harvard Business Review that probes into the key insights of Navy SEALs’ excellence for corporate and organization leaders to pick up.
- Navy SEALs focus on training. One of the most prevalent symptoms that plagues modern corporate leadership is the tendency to overinvest in “education” and underinvest in “training.”Overeducated and undertrained, modern leaders get knowledge while skills go to labors, and consequently they cannot lead by example.
« Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. » -Navy SEALs’ trainer
« Never ask your team to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself. Do it right and your team will respect you and follow you. » -Navy SEALs’ trainer
- Navy SEALs focus on producing Excellence, not “Above Average.”
Here is an existential challenge to most organizations’ views of human resources: don’t aspire to be comfortably above average (box ticking), and don’t train with the tacit expectation that excellence matters less than being a bit better; rather, inject in your organization a kaizen (改善) ethos, by which the term ‘human capital investment’ is defined.
- Navy SEALs incentivize excellence.This includes
– a mentor system whereby a mentor and a student are paired to boost support and accountability, as mentor would be evaluated on their student’s performance which created the right incentive and better bonds and relationships throughout the enterprise.
– rewards systems (financial, personal growth, promotion) that promote excellence and reposition and replace those who can’t/won’t step up.
- Navy SEALs incorporate new ideas from the ground.In Navy SEALs, one has the privilege of working with people who just get the job done at all costs. They are self-motivators. Even if they don’t have the know-how, they will figure it out and just make it happen. It’s amazing to have a whole team that thinks this way.”
The level of motivation, dedication and self-sacrifice the SEALs demand from themselves and each other goes far, far beyond what most businesses and business schools should ever ask, let alone expect, from their people.
But the point that your students/trainees can be a wealth of information applies also to business organizations. As it may be life-saving to adopt a good idea early and put it into practice, leaders should be open to new ideas and innovation.
One way to do it is to ask the subordinates to do mission brief and actively sought out this knowledge from them. Leaders should also explore up-to-date technologies so as to give trainees greater insight into the underlying mechanics of the tools at their disposal.