Deutsch: Portrait von Rear Admiral William H. ...

Admiral William H. McRaven, USN, Commander of US Special Operations Command Europe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was reading an article in Inc. about 7 Leadership Rules from the SEALS commander and noticed that it was based on a talk given by Admiral William McRaven to the West Point Class. There were a number of valuable insights in the talk. The most important one that resonated with me was the following piece

Nothing–nothing–is more daunting, more frustrating, more complex, than trying to lead men and women in tough times. Those officers that do it well earn your respect, because doing it poorly is commonplace.

When everything is going well, the truth about relationships or challenges or conflicts do not surface, it is when the pressure mounts and things start to break that the true nature of relationships and people really show up. It is easy being a peace time leader but being a war time leader is the ultimate challenge. Every entrepreneur goes through this at one or several points in the development of the business. What helps is to invest time with the team, learn everything about every team member and be there and build relationships with each and every one of your team. If you don’t build those relationships, the level of trust needed to work through tough times will not be built.

I see it time and time again, companies loose sense of what is it they are in the business of doing the minute they start seeing success. The leadership in those companies forget that it is the team and every member of the team that makes the overall company function.

The other point that made a lot of sense to me was the topic of expecting the best from your team

Taking care of soldiers is not about coddling them, It is about challenging them–establishing a standard of excellence and holding them accountable for reaching it….You had better be up to the task, because I have learned that they expect you to be good….[They] expect you to hold them to high standards.

Setting goals and achieving goals is one of the fundamental aspects of building anything, I find it so strange that many of the startup founders and managers just go through their day to day with no goal, no purpose and no ambition. Being a leader is about expecting world class performance from your team, but as you leader you need to hold yourself to the same high standard.

The last but not the least, point that really struck to the core with me was the aspect of taking risk

The greatest risk is not on the battlefield but in standing up for what’s right, The truly great officers know that real victory is achieved when men and women of character take professional risks and challenge the weak-kneed, the faint of heart, the indecisive, or the bullies.

The minute you start building a team and creating a strategy to execute and scale your company, all the politics, whispers and game playing starts in the company. There is nothing more caustic than letting this cancer spread within the team. Empower your team to stand up for what is right, give them the mandate to take professional risk to challenge when the wrong thing is done.

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