What a Navy SEAL Taught Me About Business Leadership

February 13, 2020

I always wanted to do Navy SEAL training. Other than the obvious fact that it’s super bad-ass, I have always admired the level of hard work, dedication and grit that goes into becoming a Navy Seal.

DOZR was at the ARA Show this week in Orlando. We kicked off the show with a few education sessions including Chad Williams’ take on the “7 Leadership Lessons from a Navy SEAL.”

It was a great talk; Chad is an engaging speaker with some real solid stories to share. I’m taking his 7 lessons to heart and applying them immediately in my day-to-day at DOZR.

Here are my key takeaways from Chad’s 7 lessons and how you can embrace these to become a better leader in business.

Having Specific Goals is Key to Success

Being a Navy SEAL takes extreme dedication, grit and a solid ability to lead. In his talk Chad spoke about the concept of aim small, miss small: setting specific goals so you know exactly what you are going after and can check your progress and path along the way.

As a Navy SEAL he was trained to know exactly what the goal was for a mission. It’s not enough to say you want to hit a target; you have to specify where and how. Business targets are no different – setting specific, measurable goals not only helps to ensure that you are clear in what you’re going after but it keeps your team focused and on track. 

Goals, however, are only as good as those who know them. If only one team member of a SEAL team knew what the goal of a mission was, disorder and confusion would most likely ensue. The same way you’d expect every member of a Navy SEAL team to know what the mission is, every member of a team in business should understand what the company’s goal is, too. 

As a CEO, transparency and internal communication is constantly on my mind. I know it’s important to keep everyone in the loop with what’s happening at DOZR. Looking at it from this perspective, however, made me realize just how important this communication is. As a leader, how can I hold my company accountable to goals unless everyone knows what they are?

Chad Williams at another speaking event. Image borrowed from Premiere Speakers.

The True Power of a Leader

One concept that really stood out to me in Chad’s talk was the idea of Servant Leadership

Great leaders constantly ask themselves, “What can I do for my team?” The result is increased loyalty from the team itself, a willingness to go the extra mile, and enhanced confidence that their leader always has their back.

For me personally, these are all goals I have as a leader of a team. 

This question, says Chad, is crucial. He went on to explain that when you’re with a SEAL team on a mission you don’t have time to focus on yourself. You are responsible for having the backs of the people around you on the mission just as you’d expect them to do the same for you.

We have built a culture at DOZR that we are proud of; The credit goes to our employees, really, as they are the ones who keep it growing every day. It’s a culture that emphasizes having each other’s backs, going the extra mile, and in most cases our team members are close with one another.  

I do my best to encourage this mindset every day. I know its an aspect of workplace culture that flows down from the top and its important to keep it coming as our team grows.

Earn Your Trident

Startup life is challenging. We are doing something that has never been done before in our industry. We have to be nimble, try new things, and adapt on a regular basis. 

“Earn your Trident every single day,” said Chad referring to the SEAL Trident pin, earned after successful completion of training and official designation of the U.S. Navy SEAL title. He explained that falling into patterns and doing things as they’ve always been done is not enough. More often it is this way of thinking that puts Navy SEALs in danger. 

Innovation, creative thinking, and always pushing for the next win is what ensures that you earn your Trident every day. 

The same goes for start-ups: grow or go, as they say. 

I take it personally that our team feels encouraged to question the norm and speak their minds. I believe that the first two points of setting clear goals and subservient leadership all built up to this key point: when your team feels supported and know what you’re working towards, they can feel empowered to make changes and bring new solutions forward knowing that their leadership team is there to support them. 

The act of actually earning a Trident as a SEAL makes me realize how important it is to recognize these wins. The Trident pin is awarded after a successful mission. What is the business equivalent of a Trident pin? What can I as a leader do to recognize every win, every goal that’s met, and every achievement throughout the year? 

My Leadership Lessons from a Navy SEAL

Being a leader or business owner is not an easy job – at least not to me. I take the wellbeing of our team and the accomplishment of our goals seriously; When a member of my team wins, I win. If a member of my team fails, I feel that as well. It’s my job to help raise everyone up to success and support each team member as they complete any mission laid before us. 

These lessons from Chad were a reminder that every small action or something as simple as mindset can impact the accomplishments of a team. Communication, being a smart leader, and never shying away from challenging the norm are the three biggest stand-outs to me from the session. I’m looking forward to bringing these back to the DOZR office from Orlando and using them to make myself a better leader.

Who is the best leader you know? What makes them such a great leader? It would be awesome to hear from you in the comments below.

Kevin Forestell

Kevin Forestell is CEO of DOZR and one of the co-founders. Kevin first got started as an entrepreneur when he founded Forestell Landscaping right after graduating from University. His love and passion for the industry and desire to help solve an equipment problem that contractors faced every day is what brought the founding team to start DOZR. Kevin is proud of the level of efficiency brought to the industry through DOZR and hopes that DOZR will help change the standard way equipment is rented.

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