The cooperative training and team-building efforts that are customary in the
U.S. military are just as integral, if not more so, in the corporate world.
Both rely on a strong foundation of individuals committed to working
together to accomplish shared objectives. That is why, in business, training
employees to adopt and live by a team-focused mindset is critical for
any corporation's success.
Especially during difficult economic times, staff must be trained, ready, and
willing to implement a unified approach. Doing so helps companies ensure
success in the field, while maintaining a competitive edge over like-minded
businesses. If a company is unable to lead from within through cooperation
among management and direct reports, it will be next to impossible to pave
the way in the field as more and more companies compete against each other.
Simply put, it takes a strong corporate core to tackle the competition.
Adopting a Navy SEAL Mindset
This type of participatory leadership, a longtime staple of the U.S.
military, is increasingly becoming more common among corporations large and
small. Businesses are following the lead of our country's men and women, who
train together and support each other everyday, sometimes in situations in
which their failure to work together would be detrimental to the mission,
resulting in consequences as serious as loss of life.
Scenarios such as these were the bedrock of 31-year Navy SEAL veteran Rear
Admiral Raymond Smith's tenure as Commander of the 2,300-men SEAL force.
Smith impressed on his team the importance of teamwork and staying
together. To this end, he succeeded in raising personnel retention to a
level three times the Navy average. Rear Admiral Smith also led the Navy
SEALs in Operation Desert Storm and conducted more than 200 operations of
strategic significance without incurring casualties. The precursor to these
later SEAL achievements stemmed from his stint directing Navy SEAL training,
during which time the SEALs saw the highest graduation rate in the 50-year
history of the course.
While it may not seem apparent at the outset, applying a military mindset to
corporate business life is seamless. That is due in part to the fact that
Rear Admiral Smith and other corporate trainers who comprise suburban
Philadelphia based Academy Leadership are experienced in both the business
and military world. Our team of West Point and Naval Academy graduates is
skilled at imparting their leadership expertise to corporations seeking to
train their team in building better leaders.
Putting SEAL Tactics to Corporate Use
And, although the secrets to corporations' business success stories do not
involve clandestine missions from the sea, air, or land, the Navy SEALs'
team-building military operatives are being sought after by corporations
more frequently. Rear Admiral Smith's training presentations, coupled with
unique real-world exercises and physical endurance challenges, help in
training corporations on the importance of staying together even if it
means finishing second—to accomplish common corporate objectives.
Called a Kim's Game, the interactive, dual memory/physical challenge SEAL
drill takes leadership training out of the classroom and into the great
outdoors in the form of two-person teams competing to remember objects while
running, hiking, or canoeing. The tried and true SEAL drill proved
instrumental in training teams within the Stryker organization on developing
better, more effective leaders. The lesson was integral to Stryker's two-day
annual leadership program and perfectly complemented the medical devices
manufacturer's company principles, says Craig Pearson, Stryker manager of
sales and training. "Our company has high standards," Pearson says. "When
you hear about the standards the SEALs prescribe to, you get humbled."
Pearson intends to implement the principles learned from a Kim's Game into
the Stryker culture to ensure staying power among current employees and new
recruits alike. Soon after completing the teambuilding exercise, Stryker
participants were touting the benefits of the real-life leadership
experiences, Pearson says, adding some have suggested a Kim's Game
be used in building confidence among new employees. The ultimate goal,
Pearson said, is how to build better leaders, not just good managers.
A key to accomplishing that task is for employees—like military personnel—to train together, work together, and accomplish goals together. Corporations must realize it does not matter how fast employees do a job, but rather, how they do it. The finished product is more important than
their speed. Most people who do well in a Kim's Game challenge, as well as
in the workplace, are the ones who take their time.
Dennis Haley is founder and CEO of Academy Leadership. Learn more by