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I had the pleasure of attending DSES and listening to Leif Babin, Former Navy Seal talk about leadership and how to build a successful team. Now many of you who know me, I am a leadership fanatic and am always looking for ways you improve myself and my team When Mr. Babin took the stage, the room quieted because of his presence and out of respect for what he has accomplished. You do not become the choice to create and lead the leadership training for future Navy Seal teams by accident. You have not only the expertise but also the ability to communicate it to others.
Although his keynote was packed with information and stories of his experiences, I wanted to focus on three things that I took away as did others based on conversations I had after the keynote finished.
1. Choosing the right team members.
Mr. Babin brought up a point that I am sure many people in the audience had. “Of course the Navy Deals are a great team because look at the people you have on that team.” Correct but what Mr. Babin pointed out was that the reason he has great people is because he is very clear on the characteristics that his team members will need to have and then they have a rigorous screening process where 80% of the people drop out of the initial interview process.
Does your business have a clear set of defined characteristics for team members? Not just skills for the position but WHO they are. Then what is your screening process? OR are you so focused on filling a spot that as long as they can fog a mirror you bring them in. “Let’s see if they work out. We need someone”.
Well just brining someone in is not a great strategy because you have to focus on the collateral costs of having to train a new person, which takes away from the trainers job as well as how this new person can pull other’s focus away from their tasks. You are better off hiring slowly than just trying to fill the void.
2. Clear defined orders of execution
Mr. Babin explained how each of his team members needed to have their orders given in a clear and simple way or else that led to interpretation or doubt, which on a battlefield can be disastrous. Now you may not have the extreme consequences that a Navy Seal would have but what about time wasted on lack of effort or mistakes that were made due to your team not understanding what was expected.
I have always trained my team with the understanding that if I cannot demonstrate it physically, then it is not actionable or clear enough. Can all of your employees explain what their job is? Can they repeat back what you want them to do? Can you demonstrate what you want so there is no misunderstanding?
3. Extreme ownership.
I think this was the most important fact Mr. Babin communicated. A great leader owns the performance of their team for both good and bad. Mr. Babin pointed out many times he made mistakes and he had successes but he owned it all. A few examples of extreme ownership that you can take from him was that after each mission they debriefed and talked about what they did well, what went wrong and how to improve. Even if they had a great success they questioned if it was luck or because the executed well.
Does your team have these types of meetings? After a long weekend of sales do you talk to the team and break it down to actionable things that they can improve on? Do you look at data and review it when you succeed or fail?
The last point I took away was that a strong team leader does not point fingers. Ask yourself when you as owner/manager ask your team what happened, does the finger pointing begin? “I did my job.” “If the others just pulled their weight” “It was them not me”
If that is happening look in the mirror. YOU have created an environment where this is allowed. Do not blame anyone else. If you want to succeed then you must train your team to own their process, own their execution and own their results. Being brutally honest with yourself and your team is what creates ongoing success.
That is extreme ownership.
Mr. Babin, we appreciated your service and the lessons you shared. We can all own our own actions a little better and I am sure many of us will.