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Leadership & Team Performance: Lessons from US Navy - Check 6 International

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Peter Drucker famously stated that when management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things. Great leaders possess dazzling social intelligence, a zest for change, and above all, vision that allows them to set their sights on the things that truly merit attention.

True leadership is much more than authority and recognition from the outside world. Instead, leadership is all about developing people and helping others reach their full potential. It’s about equipping others with the right tools and strategies to not only maximize the success of an organization but also the lives of individuals. It’s about breaking down barriers and leading others through the uncertainty of the future.

In addition to that, the best leaders are not only succeeded at helping their team win championships or organizations reach new milestones and dominate the marketplace, but they deeply cared for people and understood what a privilege it is to be a leader.

Definitely, a great leader would not achieve a great result without having a great team. Whether it’s a functional team, a team of managers, or a project team, people get most done when they work together effectively. So when members of a team don’t work well together, performance and productivity could be affected. That is certainly not a good signal for a company to maintain its momentum in the business world.

To illustrate further on the connection of leadership and team work, it it could be clearly found in military as working together with a commitment to accomplish a mission set by the commander in a battlefield is a vital for a team of soldiers. The ability to give a clear direction and lead others is the elemental characteristic of success for the team to achieve its target and mission.

However, it is obvious that corporate and military leadership are distinctively different for various reasons: The military’s leadership is focused on leading organizations responsible for our country’s security and fighting wars, while business leaders are focused  on creating value and protecting the interests of their stakeholders, with profit and return on investment often being the top priorities.

Meticulous planning

From a management standpoint, one of the greatest lessons that can be learned from US Navy is their skill of being highly effective and meticulous planners. They focus on the importance of time management, on-target execution, and completing the mission. They operate with a backup and contingency plan in place for almost every scenario.

One of the most practical skills taught in this branch is clear and direct communication. Most people think that the military teaches direct, one-way communication, but what is less obvious to non-military folks is the importance of listening. US Navy Commanders listen and formulate an opinion that incorporates as many ideas and experiences as possible to form a solid plan. A big difference between US Navy and civilian leadership is that once a commander’s decision is reached, the discussion is over. Then, full support and backing is given and a unified front is presented. Ultimate accountability rests on the commander’s shoulders.

Clear expectations

US Navy focuses on a very clear set of objectives, where significant importance is placed on defining the goal and motivating the team to follow. Even with highly complex operations, each US Navy has a clearly defined role, and expectations can be recited by each team member. Similarly, articulating a compelling vision and aligning people with priorities are vital areas in business, but these are often overlooked by many leaders. The US Navy’s rules of engagement (how they respond when confronted) are clearly established before each mission, and modifying these rules could negatively impact the entire operation. The rules of engagement for businesses (what is acceptable employee behavior and what is not) are very often ill-defined or nonexistent. One of the biggest disconnects that could be seen in business is the gap between a company’s strategy and the aligned expectations set for the employees.

As corporate leaders, the art of mastery a specific skill on how to elevate the effectiveness and professional excellence on their performance should be based on the following military principles:-

(a) Teamwork

A mission cannot be successfully executed unless the team is functioning as one. The US Navy continual emphasis on teamwork corresponds closely with the daily requirements of the business world.

(b) Early leaders are good leaders.

This opportunity is unparalleled in the corporate world, where an employee may need 10 to 15 years to reach a position of significant leadership and high level of responsibility.

(c) Excel at ethics

In the world of business, the ethical leader is sometimes a rarity, and truly esteemed.

(d) Stay calm

The military trains its team to be more comfortable taking risks with incomplete information. This is the daily function of the company’s leader (CEO), but it is rarely passed down to employees.

(e) Hard times help the leader to adapt quickly

Young executives who go through hard times should learn to appreciate them, recognizing that those times will not only strengthen them, but truly train them to properly and successfully lead their own teams when battling the competition.

(f) Darwin’s philosophy

Survival is not about who’s the strongest or fastest, but who can best adapt to change. US Navy is expected to master the art of adaptation, being able to operate in jungle, desert, or artic conditions. In comparison, the leaders must adapt to the ever-changing market conditions they face daily and should train their staffs to do the same.