Values of a Great Team: DEVELOP
I want to take a moment to thank all of you who participated in our survey last week. Our team and I are pouring over each and every answer, and we are so excited to hear what you are saying! I will be sharing the results with you soon, and how your comments will impact what Aspire presents. As a direct result of the survey, there is one change I would like to make immediately. (And you’ll see it at the bottom of this post.) If you haven’t taken the survey yet, click here to begin, I would love to hear your opinion on how we can meet your needs in better ways. I am passionate about our leadership community, and I extend my heart-felt gratitude to each of you for helping me take it to the next level of excellence.
– Wes Saade, M.D.
Exceptional teams have an unflinching commitment to develop the very best people possible. The way my team articulates this value is: We develop the best.
When I think of the best, I think of the US Navy SEAL teams. This elite military unit represents the very best that the US military has to offer. In this article, I will examine how to develop the very best on our teams by mining lessons from this world renowned military unit, the US Navy SEALs.
The Development of a US Navy SEAL
The making of a US Navy SEAL begins with screening the right individual. Without question, that is where we must start in order to develop the best on our teams. The SEALs do not compromise in soliciting the very best. Men train for months or years just to prepare for the application process. When they are accepted, they begin the rigorous BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs) training. In a typical training class of 1,000 men, only 200-250 men pass the strenuous physical and emotional tests.
Even after eighteen months of grueling boot camp, the men train for an additional year before their first deployment. The training doesn’t end once a man becomes a US Navy SEAL. Rather, continual investments are made into scrupulously honing their skills. SEALs do not cease to develop themselves. They are always ready. SEALs say they are in training all the time.
Another principle we can learn from the SEALs is to hire slow and fire fast. Once they pass the lengthy and meticulous hiring process, those who don’t ascribe to the culture, cannot handle the pressure, or are not motivated to work and sacrifice, are let go. No exceptions. No apologies.
Hire the Best
Hiring the best is absolutely critical. I have found on my journey in leadership that great discipline is required to hire well. Discipline to follow a careful process that should be set in place; to devote the necessary resources; and to be guided by wisdom in selecting the perfect candidate. But so often, we get in a hurry because we need someone now. I have made this mistake too many times before. To remedy this, I have learned to not rely solely on my own judgment in this area. Instead, I ask everyone on the team to give their opinion, and I make sure that those in my inner circle have a very strong veto voice in the hiring process.
Depending on the position, the following is a list of criteria that we consider when hiring others:
Will this person fit into our culture?
Do their values match ours?
Do they already demonstrate competence for the position?
Does this person understand the technical aspects required for the position?
Do they have prior experience? And previous success?
Does this person have a proven track record?
Does this person demonstrate emotional control?
How mature is this person?
Will this person connect with the rest of our team?
Do they have natural chemistry with the team?
Filter Out Those Who Don’t Fit
Just like the SEALs, I am committed to selecting the best. During the first ninety days of new employment, I encourage my team to zero in on whether a person is indeed the right pick. When I must make a judgment call, I err on the side of being over protective of my team. Remember, that as good as our interview processes may be, people’s true colors will come out within the first few weeks or months of employment. Listen carefully: If you want to have an amazing team, you must get over the emotional pain of letting go of those who do not fit.
During the first few weeks of SEAL training, the goal is to push them hard. Those who do not measure up are cut loose. We must treat everyone with dignity and honor. We must give people opportunities to prove themselves. And we must respect the sacrifices that people make to join our teams. However, our first priority as the leader is always to our existing team and organization, and most importantly to the vision.
It has taken me years to recognize and apply these simple principles. The old me liked to just hire people with minimal scrutiny and grow them. I had confidence that with my “amazing leadership skills,” I could inspire people and mold them into what we needed. I have since realized that I can’t. While we should aim to grow people, I have also learned that growth is very slow, even for the best of us. And we do ourselves and our organizations a favor by starting out with the very best we can find, and filtering out those who don’t quite fit.
Train People Well
Training has to be first-class. Empower new people from the beginning by teaching them your values and your culture. And continue reinforcing these principles for the life of their employment.
Make it clear that your expectation is that everyone should develop themselves personally and professionally. Provide resources and opportunities for growth and team-building.
Keep People Operating in Their Strengths
The best leaders are intentional to discover and develop the strengths of their people. And the best people thrive when they are operating in their strengths. Keeping people engaged in work that maximizes their strengths propels your organization forward.
Make this your personal practice. Model this discipline for your people. And encourage them to:
- Discover their strengths.
- Develop their strengths.
- Guide their lives in the direction of their strengths.
Actionable Step: Designate time for your team to strategize on how you can develop the very best for your organization.
As I reported in the introduction, I am ecstatic about the feedback we are receiving from our reader survey! We take your comments very seriously. One of our readers remarked that they miss a feature I once included on each post where I reveal what I am reading now. As you will see below, I have added this feature back into my posts. I hope that what I include will encourage you on your leadership journey. Keep the feedback coming!
About Me: I have a goal of losing 20 pounds in the next 3 months.
What I Am Reading Now: Fareed Zakaria is one of my favorite thinkers/journalists. In his book, In Defense of a Liberal Education, he argues that the university should be much more than a vocational school, that a liberal education (ex: history, philosophy, literature) sharpens our ability to think and broadens our perspectives. A Yale and Harvard graduate himself in Philosophy, Fareed presents that many of our esteemed statesmen and women owe their successful journeys to their broad based liberal arts education.
For Further Reading: