Successful military leaders who transition into business like gangbusters, have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to the aspiring and even experienced business leader. “The Navy SEAL Art Of War” by Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer (Ret.), Rob Roy is full of what I call “gold nuggets”; proven modi operandi and wisdom to supplement leadership competence.
It was reinforcing to read many familiar references to some favorite sources in Rob’s book such as “Good To Great” by Jim Collins, “The Art Of War” by Sun Tzu, and familiar phrases like “Semper Gumby” (Marine speak for always flexible), the OODA Loop, “Commander’s Intent”, “No Better Friend – No Worse Enemy” and a General Mattis Christmas story.
While the book is littered with meaningful, situational stories and material, here’s my top five leadership gold nuggets from “The Navy SEAL Art Of War”
1. Competence & Character
In short, Know your job extremely well (competence) and be someone others want on the team by being trustworthy, respectful, empathetic, honorable, and humble (character).
2. Have a Servant’s Heart
“The best leaders I know not only provide a tremendous service, but they also serve. They subordinate their own individual needs and desires to some greater good. They have, in short, a servant’s heart. Referencing Jim Collins’ “Good To Great”, Rob reminds us of “level five” CEOs are servant-type leaders who possess characteristics like humility and self-awareness. The type to shun personal glory and who glean greater satisfaction from solving problems and helping others than they do in heaping praise and honors onto themselves.
3. Have a Vision
Rob’s vision is “To continually provide value, and to serve”. A short but meaningful vision. I like that.
4. Everyone on a Team is important
“There’s a good chance that someone out there might be better than me at a given task, but better than my SEAL team? Not likely.”
5. Crystal-clear communication is critical
“The more direct and precise you can be in your language, the better the result.”
More notable highlights:
“It is better to have one person with passion than forty who are merely interested”.
“In the absence of leadership, LEAD! SEALs expect to lead, but they are also willing to be led by someone with a better plan. In the absence of orders, we take charge.”
“humility is the bedrock of any high-speed team”.
“Well, at least it’s not raining.” In essence, things could always be worse.
“Think in terms of possibilities, not limitations.”
“A well-aimed shot will always hit the target. Stay in the zone.”
“It’s all about the teams.”
When I go through a good leadership book, I like to dog-ear pages, underline, and highlight key takeaways so that I can review and summarize after I finish reading. I’m not sure I’ve ever marked up a book as much as I did this one. “The Navy SEAL Art Of War”, has found its place as a permanent fixture on my bookshelf of leadership references.