How do you keep teams on track and prevent chronic inefficiencies from misaligned goals and self serving agendas? This is a complex problem that we see leaders struggling with in organizations and teams of all types.
In "Corporate Zeal" Part 1, we learned about the importance of mission focus at three levels (personal, team and organization). High performing teams and individuals must possess a sharp understanding of mission focus. But understanding mission focus is not enough to ensure that the correct results are achieved, in the right way, and that teams can achieve guaranteed success that is repeatable. Just because a group of individuals has an understanding of the objective, does not guarantee that they will work together as a team to accomplish the objective. Think about how many times you have seen one or two people slow momentum and progress for the whole team. "Their head is just not in the game", or "That person has his own agenda". We hear this all the time.
Special Operations Units are some of the most effective teams anywhere in the world. They are made up of individuals who are willing to stop at nothing to achieve their objective. Not much stands in the way of a SOF team on a mission. Challenges, even serious ones, are viewed with an almost irrational confidence by these highly trained and adaptable warriors. Once engaged on an "Op", the level of focus maintained until the job is finished is remarkable. The Special Operations teams offer senior leaders certainty, with guaranteed levels of performance and a dependability that is widely understood and appreciated among policy makers and strategic planners at all levels of government.
This level of performance and certainty is not by accident, it is created, on purpose and with precision using time tested truths and principles. There is no shortage of literature on the subject should you care to learn more or gain a deeper understanding. there are dozens of books that capture the spirit of the special operations warrior and the units that carry out the most difficult missions on earth.
The selection, training and operational principles of the Special Operations Community clearly work.
These principles can be learned and used by Corporate leaders in all types of organizations, and at every level of a company.
In part one, I wrote about the importance of understanding the mission. Mission awareness is a key principal that contributes to an organization or team's success or failure. Mission awareness is generally recognized by all types of leaders to be important and is universally applicable to any organization, from Palo Alto, to Wall Street to Kandahar or the challenges we will face in the future.
Along with mission awareness, there are other traits that come into play with military teams, and that also have wide application in private industry. From the first day in basic training, young soldiers are taught the importance of dedication. Dedication to your team, your unit, something "larger than yourself", your country and the legacy of those that have gone before you. You learn that the path you are now following was forged and blazed by many great people who went first, and you learn that you are accountable to them, just as much as you are accountable to your buddy to the left and right of you.
Dedication and accountability are powerful forces that can drive individuals to excel, but we see a decline in these traits in many modern organizations and teams.
Soldiers understand that dedication to their profession is not to be taken lightly, nor forgotten, and this understanding, when realized, is profound. Dedication becomes the framework for which all other thinking and doing takes place. Throughout a military career, dedication is tested, strained, bruised, abused and sometimes cashed in, but it remains, guides you and keeps your faith strong during the most difficult times.
Special Operations individuals are among the most dedicated people on the planet. They have invested in their abilities, tested themselves and joined the ranks of elite teams, where each day they "spend themselves in a worthy cause". They live in world where, "selection never ends", and they have to prove themselves every day. They are focused. To watch or be a part of a SOF team on a mission, whether roping into a compound in the dark, assaulting an airfield, unloading a truck, stacking boxes or just walking to chow, is to truly witness perfection.
I've witnessed high levels of dedication in other areas as well. Professional extreme athletes and guides display high levels of both mission awareness and dedication to their profession, much in the same way that SOF operators do. The common thread is individuals that train constantly, surround themselves with other like minded people, and push themselves, all within a framework of dedication and accountability.
Check out these friends of AOG that epitomize professional dedication: www.exumguides.com
Here are three things that corporate leaders can do to improve dedication:
1) To keep teams on track, communicate often with your junior leaders and staff. Reinforce the "3 mission mindset". Ensure that all of the employees on your team understand what the company's mission is, and that you always have a majority of the team who are loyal and zealous for the mission.
2) To decrease inefficiency from misaligned goals and self-serving agendas, identify those employees and team members who are not loyal and zealous for the mission and have a deliberate plan to either correct the misalignment, or help that team member find a new mission somewhere else, period. Reward and encourage "brand zealots" and look to them to recruit new team members. A good friend who is the CEO of a major outdoor retailer, seeks to create "Bar Fighting Zealots" for his company. When you find one, reward them, they will be a force multiplier for you.
3) Train in order to ensure "certainty of performance". If traditional corporate team building and leadership seminars have failed to produce the desire results, or if you have unusually difficult team dynamics to correct, contact us to learn how the Adventure Operations Group can work with your organization to assess and train your staff to think more like a SOF team, stay mission focused and dedicated. It's easier than you may think to get started.
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Adventure Operations Group (AOG) is a veteran owned company dedicated to the pursuit of adventurer. AOG's Training Programs and Adventures will take you "Beyond Normal Limits". AOG leads epic adventures, instructional programs, leadership training and assessments for individuals and organizations. Our programs are unique and emphasize mental focus, individual skills, leadership and personal achievement. We specialize in Human Performance Training. Working with AOG is the best way to achieve "next level" results for your corporate group or to enhance your personal capabilities. Contact AOG today to learn how we can get you or your team "Beyond Normal Limits".