A Former Navy SEAL’s Key Business Leadership Tips

Marty Strong, retired Navy SEAL, chief executive officer, and author of “Be Visionary: Strategic Leadership in the Age of Optimization,” has several tips for business leaders from his time with the SEALs.

The most important feature of any strong business is a mission-focused culture, Strong says. Navy SEALs are always focused on the mission at hand, and their goals permeate through every team with the help of single-minded leadership. The most important things to keep in mind are the “strategic, operational, and technical” lifespan of an employee from onboarding to when they leave the company, Strong tells Fast Company.

Next, individual talent is an enormous part of how the SEALS build and reward their staff. They are wholly dedicated to the enhancement of their skills and their team’s skills, and they accomplish that by constantly striving for self-improvement. It also fosters a sense of loyalty among members of a company who are all invested in each other.

Coaching is another key part of how Navy SEALs inspire and enable others to be their best. Mentoring is a huge factor in how teams operate, and collaborative motivation is the backbone of their performance. Strong says that leaders nurture their subordinates in the SEALs, as they should in any organization.

“By using the word nurturing, I want you to picture a family dedicated to ensuring all its members do well,” Strong tells Fast Company. “Everyone pitches in to mentor the child, the teen, the young adult — the same happens in the SEAL teams. Everyone has a vested interest in helping the leaders achieve success.”

Lastly, something that Navy SEALs are always interested in is finding the truth by gathering as much intelligence as possible. Whether business leaders are trying to get a sense of the markets that they’re working in or incoming trends that will be important, they have to stay on their toes and be voracious learners.