“Is your company operating in the dark?” That was a question posed by US Navy SEAL Captain Tom Chaby at a recent local presentation. Captain Chaby also highlighted the importance of, “Can your team operate under pressure?” and “How does resiliency affect your bottom line?” It’s highly unlikely that your commercial appraisal firm is operating in Afghanistan-like conditions. However, leadership is key unless you want to run your business like driving at high speeds blind-folded…assuming you don’t have a cool autonomous car.
The captain got my attention with a lot of things, but particularly his point about your people are extremely motivated by relevance. That said, often SEALS have to operate with incomplete information, the unknown. His “hot wash” concept highlighted the importance of debriefing of events – talking about what went right and wrong for each mission. It’s an honest look at what really happened, not placing blame, but communicating to help everyone understand to improve processes.
Captain Chaby shared a lot about the SEAL’s community challenges since they were operating in ineffective silos and not communicating with other teams and military branches. He cited a significantly broken training pipeline, ineffective teams, people in the wrong places, but most importantly – poor empowerment of his people.
His three challenges and opportunities were to improve training, team effectiveness and resilience performance optimization. His three C’s for leadership include communication, collaboration and cooperation. If you notice they all have to do about talking. Talking with your customers. Talking with your employees. Talking, talking, talking and more talking, but perhaps more important is listening, listening, listening.
The captain was very transparent in pre-9/11 training failures that he considered outdated including “harder is better” mentality, too much focus on the physical, opinion based and zero applied science. The teams started to coalesce with hiring outside professionals, such as performance psychologists and personal trainers resulting in improved recruiting, less injuries, basically training smarter. They started keeping detailed statistics so they could measure their advancement.
The challenge with any organization is getting buy-in. The captain started with “our why,” probably the most important answer to “what’s in it for me?” for the rank-and-file. He built a narrative, slowly built advocacy coupled with a lot of patience and persistence. For life and death situations, you need your team performing at their best.
He contends that leadership is a verb. Meaning, you have to do things which might include time, money and communication. You have to make an investment to incorporate a comp database, report writing and appraisal workflow. It’s a personal investment in mentorship and teaching your employees that everyone is a leader if you give them a chance to participate. Empowerment is often an overused buzzword, but if you don’t ask your appraisers and support staff how you can do things better, then your mission may fail. Everyone is part of the solution.
He mentioned the Japanese concept of kaizen, which is the concept of continuous improvement, a long-term approach with small incremental changes in processes in order to improve quality and efficiency. The concept applies from the bottom to the top of an organization. Kaizen can be translated as “good change.” Today’s objective is to be successful. What’s your objective?