Retired Navy rear admiral offers Teaching Moments in Leadership

FIND the consistent hitters. Forget the streak hitters.

That was one kernel of advice offered in “Teaching Moments in Leadership” by retired rear admiral Ray Smith, who during a 35-year career in the Navy made a significant contribution to the Navy SEAL program, establishing and implementing operating philosophies, leadership principles, and training methods.

“What are you looking for in your company? Streak hitters or consistent hitters? You can't rely on streak hitters.”

Here are some of his other kernels:

  • Make good use of the leadership prism pointing down. Ignore at your own risk.

  • Avoid superficial measures when evaluating employees' potential.

  • Do not waste time or energy on the “mud” of life. Wash it off and move forward.

  • Maximize opportunities to work directly with your employees. Even a few minutes makes a difference.

  • Learn to deal with unpredictability. It is predictable.

  • Use caution when increasing workload — slowly, at a pace that enables employees to adjust.

  • Remember, making decisions on your own produces outcomes, not necessarily solutions.

  • Find a way. There is always a way.

  • Stay situationally aware of your company's personal and business dynamics.

  • Develop a work environment where your employees continue to learn.

  • Personal recognition is vital to individual morale and effectiveness.

  • It's not the lofty sail, but the unseen wind that moves the ship. You are the sail and your employees are the “unseen wind.”

  • Basic leadership arithmetic: authority + responsibility = accountability.

  • Be a personal example of what you expect from your employees.

  • Know your employees. They have lives outside of the work place.

  • Be aware and responsive to life crossings. You can change someone's life.

  • Create “teaching moments” within your organization. Right place, right time, and right conditions.

  • Avoid empowerment. Enabling your employees is the key to their self-esteem and productivity.

  • Learn from failure. Sometimes the brightest light comes from a burning Bridge.

  • Do not fail at the same thing twice. There is no wisdom gained in the second kick of the mule.

  • Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences (a great idea in concept, but a lousy idea in execution).

  • Leaders beware. Personal myths born of youth, which form the foundation of adult personalities, are almost completely devoid of facts and logic.

  • When faced with two courses of action in life, always take the one most personally uncomfortable. It will be the right one.

  • Loyalty before all, except before honor.

  • Perfect knowledge is elusive, but never emerges from one person.

  • Leaders are responsible for strategy, but they must also retain a working-level knowledge of the organization's tactical environment.

  • Avoid complacency, the “dark side” of success.

  • Strive for excellence. Build a team of consistent hitters, not streak hitters.

  • Like young SEAL students, respect the fact that the only easy day was yesterday.

  • Manage energy, not time.

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