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The BUD/S Teamwork Principles in Leadership

The BUD/S Teamwork Principles in Leadership

(Written by Adam Lozano, San Antonio, TX)

I have always been fascinated with the Navy Seals. Growing up in a military family it is probably natural that these men were some of my first heroes. I can remember looking back as a kid and thinking that these guys were the strongest, fittest and best that our country had to offer (spoiler alert, I still do).

As my fascination grew I started watching documentaries and reading about them to find out what really made them tick. What I found truly astounded me and has greatly shaped my leadership philosophy.

In his book Team of Teams, General Stanley McChrystal details what BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition School) is. It is a six month training course that recruits have to get through to become a SEAL. Throughout this training course, these men will swim in frigid temperatures, run extensive miles in combat boots and will go through a full week with only four hours of sleep, TOTAL. It is probably the most grueling six months a human can go through and has an 80% failure rate. What surprised me the most however is when General McChrystal said the best athletes, the strongest of the group or the most fit people, ARE THE MOST LIKELY TO FAIL. The reason behind this is BUD/s is not designed to only let the most skilled warriors through; BUD/s is designed to build the ultimate TEAM. In combat there are so many small intricacies that can go wrong. In order to succeed, everyone needs to be so connected with one another that they can sense what the others will do.

This is much like the business world. In business there is no way to predict everything that will happen.

We can build great strategies and create sustainable plans, but we also must prepare for bumps in the road. Maybe we launch a product into the market and it doesn’t generate any buzz. Maybe vendors who are scheduled to deliver at certain times are hours late, setting processing and other numerous things behind schedule. Things don’t always go according to plan, that is why we need to adopt the same strategy the Navy Seals do in building our own teams.

There is no way to predict the future with 100% accuracy, so we must focus on building our team and making sure they are the right fit.

Training your team is not risk mitigation but risk adaptation.

It’s probably not a good idea to put your employees through a BUD/s-like boot camp (that would be a huge HR issue), but it might be a good idea to apply team building tactics that will stand the test of time.

How many times have you or your company brought someone in that was a superstar in their industry? They may have been a top sales leader in their region or they maybe they were skilled in negotiating high stakes sales at their previous company, but when they get to your team they didn’t fit in at all. I feel the reason behind this is because we as a society are programmed to feel that if we just get the best at something then naturally success will follow. This cannot be further from the truth.

The key to building a successful team is getting everyone on your team to buy into the same mission and accomplishing the same goal. Once you achieve this, you will set yourself apart from companies and organizations who focus purely on individual talent.

There are times when Navy SEALS may be outmanned, outmatched, and outgunned trying to accomplish their mission. When the odds are stacked against them, there is one solution that can get them through. The team.

When a team begins to operate in complete unity, they are able to perform at a higher level than any individual can reach. Take the same approach with your team. Focus on building your team, focus on getting the right people, focus on building trust with one another, and focus on getting everyone to truly buy in.

I guarantee you as a leader and your team will be better off!

(Written by Adam Lozano, San Antonio, TX)




The MillenniaLeadership team