[April 29, 2018] U.S. Army Special Forces (SoF) are part of a highly efficient and effective military organization like many of their counterparts in the Navy SEALS, Air Force Special Ops, and Marine Recon. What all of these high-performance organizations do is take their leadership training and education seriously.
Their dedication to relentless training and preparation is legendary. Yet, unlike nearly every other organization in the world where leadership is also taken seriously, they don’t overinvest in education. They spend an enormous amount of time and energy on training in their military craft.
“Be a yardstick of excellence. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Inc.
Leadership in large-complex organizations focuses almost exclusively on education. Their education focuses on the theory of leadership, major historical figures, successful organizations, and the elements that make up good leadership. Good stuff.
In this educational effort, however, there is often a disdain for practicing skills that are required to do the down-to-earth jobs that make the organization run. The movement away from a skills-based leadership path to an educational-based leadership path has been on-going for decades. The fact is real leaders get their hands dirty.
The best of the best leaders, those intimately involved in providing excellence, are involved in the everyday lives of others. When people are asked who are the best leaders in their companies, invariably the answer was those leaders who jumped in and helped; not those who stood to the side to let the workers do the job.
By getting their hands dirty, their struggles to excellence were magnified. They built trust and confidence in others, were better communicators, and were able to connect with folks at the right level. Only through leadership education and leadership training did this get accomplished.