On a SEAL Team, every member is of equal importance to every other member. SEAL Team is bound together by a common purpose and a mentality of “I’ve got your back.” We place the success of the team above individual needs because the team’s needs come to represent our individual needs, too. In anything significant that I’ve accomplished, from leading three SEAL platoons to running a fast-growing startup, I needed to team up with other people who were great at the things I wasn’t great at.
Unstoppable teams will embrace every problem saying, “OK. Where’s the opportunity?” The problem will make us stronger—the problem provides the necessary friction. The important point to remember going into it is, “Whoa. We didn’t see this coming, but this is a real opportunity. How can we figure out ways to learn from this?” If everybody has that kind of a mindset, then the problem gets put on the table and looked at from all points of view. I guarantee you, the problem will get solved either by your direct teammates or their extended stakeholders.
The Quest for Personal Fulfillment
As a leader of teams, true empowerment to solve problems and accomplish team goals can be difficult because our ego tends to get in the way. It wants to tell the world, “Look how great I am—look what I’ve accomplished!” To empower is to let go—let go of your ego, let go of your need to be first or be better or be the one and only. Your role as a leader, and your measure of fulfilling that role successfully, is building trust, respect, and empowerment toward achieving things together that are far greater than any one individual could accomplish alone.
Remember, every single person actually has a quest—they want to have some sense of fulfillment and be a part of something greater than themselves. The biggest challenge isn’t always related to external conditions, but rather to internal issues related to insecurity and our own ego. As John Wooden, the famous UCLA coach, would say, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit.” If everybody’s not worried about who gets the credit, then everybody who’s on that team is going to get an amazing amount of credit because they’ll be a part of something that no one could do by themselves.
The 10X Advantage
Leading starts with you and your inner game—that is, your mindset. That sets up how you deal with others—the outer game—which takes you to the second level of leadership: dealing with your direct reports. And then you empower your direct reports to take the CARE loop and apply it to your four key constituents: Customer, Co-worker, Contributor and Community in which you operate. In some of the organizations that I’ve coached, we’ve literally assigned team members to each of those four pillars and said, “Now, you go out and figure out ways that we can show how much we care about our customers, about our coworkers, about our contributors—they could be vendors, suppliers—and our community. Now, when that happens, we have a force-multiplying effect. In my book, Unstoppable Teams, I call it the 10X advantage. And now, we’re unstoppable.
The Paradox of Giving It Away
To enable your teammates to succeed is an act of selflessness. It proves to them that you care more about the team’s success than your own—that you’re “All-In” at serving them so they can better serve the team. The very act of enabling your teammates is the ultimate expression of letting go of your selfishness and embracing the selflessness required to lead an Unstoppable Team. And the paradox of that is when you give that power away, it comes back to you. That’s the point of all of this—giving you a framework to show how much you care about your people. Because when you do this, they will care about you—and when a team is a care-based team then it will become Unstoppable at whatever it faces.