A good friend recommended a great book, “First, Fast, Fearless’ written by Brian “Iron Ed” Hiner, a Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander (Retired). It is a fantastic look at leadership, and how the Navy SEALS lead. There are outstanding parallels between how they lead missions and how you should lead a business. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this outstanding leadership book. The main point of the book shows you how you can lead your business like a Navy SEAL leads their SEAL team.
Leadership: Leadership is composed of three core elements: Brand, Brotherhood, and Battle Rhythm.
Brand: Great leaders develop their leadership brand and earn the right to lead their teams. A strong leader must demonstrate through their actions that they understand how to lead. As they lead they must remain congruent with values, demonstrate fairness, guide and mentor their followers, serve their team as a servant leader, and help the team to understand complex ideas. The book introduces the concept of VUCA, another way of describing the fog of war, consisting of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Great leaders help their teams to handle the chaos and confusion of VUCA by providing steady leadership that is action oriented, embraces adversity, and channels fear into courage and action. Excellent leaders keep their teams focused ahead, and they keep their teams moving forward confidently and positively, by preparing their teams for success.
The book talks about the First Strike Mindset, and Hiner recommends that leaders act first decisively. Doing so puts YOU in control, and assures that your adversary is unable to assume control. A great leader begins to see everything as an opportunity and stop seeing things as problems. This type of thinking helps to focus your team on a clear purpose and provides meaning to their mission and a guiding framework for their efforts to achieve results.
A key element to developing your leadership brand is remembering that you are always building your leadership reputation through EVERYTHING that you do. By putting the interests of your followers first, by coaching them and by leading them when challenges arrive, you show your team that you are worthy of their followership. The core of the philosophy is to deal with adversity quickly and directly, with a first strike mindset and to just get on with it, avoiding the temptation to make excuses or to engage in regret for the adversities you are dealt. A great philosophy, in my mind.
Brotherhood: The Brotherhood element is all about how you treat your people, and is a core element of warfare, and just as relevant in a business context. Hines advises us to choose to lead, rather than to manage. Leadership is all about motivating your team to want to do what needs to be done to accomplish the mission, and doesn’t involve micromanaging. Hines believes that too many rules and too much process can reduce the team’s sense of creativity and innovation, and can reduce their empowerment to do what needs to be done when the battle doesn’t follow the script of the plan. Great point, and one I’ve seen in business many times. Leaders need to teach their teams to think for themselves and to encourage them to do so often, until they begin to master it. If you allow your values and mission to inform your behaviors, your team will do likewise.
Building a band of brothers is about developing TRUST, and in the book, Hiner uses trust as an acronym to help you to follow the acronym to building trust with your team.
Time – Manage your time wisely, and that will build trust with your followers.
Respect – You must treat everyone with respect at all times, and correct mistakes immediately to build trust.
Unbreakable Values – Values will guide you to leading with consistency, and allow your team to expect the best from you. The team will follow your lead.
Sacrifice – Unless you are willing to sacrifice your interests for your team, why in heaven’s name would you expect them to do it for you, or for each other? Sacrifice for the team.
Technical Proficiency – You have to operate at all times like you know what you are doing to inspire your team to follow you. Know your business.
Obviously, trust is essential to teamwork, and as a leader, we must make the development and maintenance of trust a top priority.
SEAL Teams emphasize the concept that going together is FAR better than going alone. When two committed teammates go together, they hold one another accountable to a higher standard of performance and can cover one another’s backsides. A final helpful concept about brotherhood is that a team that works together in perfect harmony is often many times more effective than a team that is made up of skilled individuals all acting as one. A great leader recognizes that he or she must quickly resolve tensions among the team, and help them to maintain their resilience in times of great chaos, challenge and stress. That is when resilience is needed most, isn’t it? Leaders need to pay attention to their people, and give them what they need to operate at the highest levels. At the end of the day, leadership is about getting the team to deliver results. To do that, you must realize that you cannot will the team to results, or deliver them yourself. Team results are always in the hands of the followers. To ensure those team results, you must become a great leader and inspire your team to develop their ability to execute plans that match the decisions that are made.
Battle Rhythm: Hiner talks about how there is a rhythm in battle, and it is not unlike music. He talks about how everyone on the team needs to be tuned into the rhythm of the battle in order for the battle rhythm to achieve its ultimate cadence. He calls for leaders to make not just speedy decisions, but timely decisions, the right decision at the right time. When everyone on the team is present and in the moment, the team begins to thrive on the rhythm and make the most of the challenges that come along, achieving the best possible rhythm. A key concept of Navy SEAL leadership is this: the better your team understands the mission and your intent about how to achieve the mission, the better equipped they will be to achieve the mission in the best possible way. Great teams deliver their best results when the challenge is the fiercest, when the pressure is the greatest, and when the stakes are the highest. Great leaders contribute to making that happen by helping their team to see the objective, to understand the mission, and to focus on how to achieve the targeted outcome.
Brian “Iron Ed” Hiner, sounds like a hell of a leader to me, and his great book on leadership provides an excellent outline for aspiring leaders to follow. We all realize that leadership is not always easy, and that there will be difficulties along the journey, but we also realize that by getting out front and providing courageous leadership, by getting into the fight, we can lead the team to extraordinary results. By building a strong, identifiable leadership brand through our behavior, by showing our people that they come first, and by setting up your team for the best chance of success, you have done all that you can to ensure the team’s victory.
Michael is an award winning Certified Professional Business Coach, a leading member of the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. Michael specializes in helping companies in the technology sector to develop their next generation of leaders. Michael’s Emerging Leaders coaching program is built around a curriculum that combines a healthy amount of self-learning with Michael’s focused one-on-one coaching to provide guaranteed results. For companies who want to assure that they’re doing everything that they can to develop their next generation of leadership, the Emerging Leaders program is an excellent investment. For more information about the Emerging Leader Executive Development Program, send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.