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Want to Build a Winning Team?

Admin | 14.04.2015

Foreword by Warren Carter and article by Shawn Parr

Foreword by Warren Carter and article by Shawn Parr

On a recent Southwest Airlines flight, I read the article below by Shawn Parr in their inflight magazine and found it to be a nice primer on some basic fundamentals of team building. It’s a quick read but a nice reminder of both internal and external situations we’ve seen and experienced that could have benefited from this advice.

The nature of business and the art of warfare share much in common. In either element, preparedness for contingencies that can derail success is critical. Mr. Parr points out that if your team is prepared, they need to possess confidence, trust, cross-functional training and the ability to be interchangeable. Hope you enjoy his insights…

Take some tips from the US Navy SEALS…

Navy SEAL teams are famous for their ability to achieve the seemingly impossible. While not all of their methods are appropriate for the rest of us, we can certainly learn a lot from their culture of teamwork.


First of all, SEALS emphasize demeanor. This means displaying confidence in your ability to contribute to the team. Managers should coach their teams the same way: It’s not about you. It’s about what you bring to the team. This makes sense in business as well as battle. While talented individualists are great at personal ventures, team-oriented people do more for the collective effort.


Another factor in SEAL success: trust. Each SEAL must believe that the teammate behind him is capable of saving his life. Company leaders should instill the same trust in their teams; the livelihood of their employees depends on it. Training and regular evaluations should emphasize the “got-your-back” culture, and managers should praise supportive work – the kind of effort that makes another person succeed.

Individualized Training

Individualized training is part of the SEAL mission, and it should be central to every business. Too few employees get all the training they need; time and money tend to limit opportunities for education and improvement. Leaders should go out of their way to learn about each member of their team and develop individual talents. And direct reports should get praise for asking questions and seeking guidance.


Finally, businesses should learn from SEAL team members’ interchangeability. While each SEAL gets training to achieve his personal potential, he also gets thoroughly trained in every other task demanded of the team. That way, the rest of the unit can carry on a mission even when one is lost. Similarly, business specialists should receive additional training in other tasks the team requires. Each member should feel responsible for carrying on the mission even when another is absent.

Any business that can successfully incorporate these four factors into its culture will find itself with a revived spirit, greater productivity, and increased employee retention. As every SEAL will tell you, it’s not just a job. It’s a mission.

Shawn Parr is the CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy. He can be followed on Twitter @GuvnerBD.