I recently had the privilege, along with a small group of award winning CEO Coaches, to listen to and engage in a leadership conversation with one of the past leaders of the U.S. Navy Seals program in San Diego, CA. 

The program is phenomenally impressive…..as you would imagine.  The most elite fighting men….the best of the best.  A grueling 25 wk program to determine who can make it through to become a Seal.  A view from the inside was quite rare and led to some eyeopening insights that can certainly apply to the needs of leadership for most organizations. 

Just a few of the numerous insights:

1.  Two is one……and One is none
   All of the training and exercises are done in PAIRS.  For support, for cross-training, to avoid a vulnerability if someone is injured or lost.   If you do things alone…..image the increased risk and loss of effectiveness.
Might this apply to your organization?  Can you afford the duplication?  Can you really afford not to consider this? 

2.  The main determinant of who succeeds…..who makes it through….is not about the most talented, or skilled, or the best athlete!!  It’s based on who has the spirit or heart to make it through. 

This was HUGE to me!!  It’s not the fastest or strongest that determines success.  It is who wants it the most and who will endure literal HELL to overcome what seem to be superhuman odds.  We asked the Admiral….in all of your pre-screening, tests or assessments, you could predict this in advance……right?
He indicated it is not for a lack of trying to determine this.  They have never been able to accurately predict which candidate will make it to succeed.

Sure seemed to parallel what we try to do in organizations.  We interview for talents or intelligence or past relevant job experience and success.  Well why then, do so many new hires not seem to fit the needs to create success after they are hired?  Do we focus too much on the talents and not the spirit or heart?  Then again…..how would we test or assess for the spirit or the big enough heart or motivation?  Seems the same problem that the Seals have.   Except they spend 25 wks in actual situations to determine who will make it.

What would be the parallel in our organizations for the 25 wk environment tests to determine success?  How many make the investment to do this type of in-depth effort?  Maybe we should if we want the same success rate that the Navy Seals have achieved!!  Worth some serious thought, I believe.

Thank you, Admiral, for these valuable insights.