Tag Archives: Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon

Three Crucial Leadership Lessons from the U.S. Navy SEALs

Twice recently, I have presented my synopsis of Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS : Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results by Jeff Cannon and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon.  I was struck with how practical, how timely, and how needed these lessons are.

We have a new and deeper appreciation for the folks who make up those Navy SEAL teams, after the successful mission that took out Osama bin Laden.  That success was no accident.  They prepared, drilled, trained, rehearsed …  the preparation was literally decades in the making!  This book helps us understand just why they succeed.

The entire book is worth a careful look.  But here are three lessons to take seriously for any current or aspiring leader.

Lesson #1 – care for your people.  Really, care for your people.  If people are cared for, and feel cared for, they will trust, follow, and stay with their leader.  People go to where they feel cared for.  From the book:

If passion for the big mission is not enough, then maybe commitment for the success of (the life of) your team members will keep you focused.  In other words, because you care for the people you work with, you work responsibly, professionally, sacrificially…

Lesson #2 – Plan well.  Plan thoroughly. Plan some more.  Because the more you plan, the more you know exactly what to do  — and, the more prepared you will be when you have to adjust the plan on the spot.  From the book:

Do you think you are spending too much time on planning?  Spend some more…  Success in the boardroom or on the battlefield does not require everything to go perfectly.  It requires you to be ready when things go wrong.  Set specific goals and establish identifiable paths to reach them… 
Time after time, organizations fail to do this. 

Lesson #3 – Maintain your rituals, because this plants and sustains a deep appreciation and commitment to the systems that work.  Systems matter.  Get the wrong systems, and the whole enterprise can come crashing down.  Get the right systems, and the whole enterprise has a much better chance at success.  From the book:

Sweat the small rituals…  By maintaining its rituals, an organization is communicating the idea that a system or culture is in place. 
By adhering to its rituals, you are confirming that you belong to the organization.  If you buck the system, you are not simply rebelling against formal suits and orthodox memos; you are questioning the organization, strategies, and processes they represent.  You are questioning the company you work for. 

This book is filled with other, valuable lessons – here’s just a sampling:

build boundaries to prevent infighting and cannibalism;
the vast majority of the time, you know what you should do;
if you think no one else can replace you, you’re an egotistical S.O.B. who’s failed;
 there is no “I” in “Shut up and do the work”;
let them be angry when they have a right to be;
tell them when the ship is sinking;
you’re the one who can make it work, and that’s often thanks enough;
cowboys and cogs don’t have job security, team members do; 
your own people are your best recruiters;
identify your lead dogs, feed them well, and build a pack around them;
let it be known that you’ll get rid of people who just shouldn’t be part of the team – even the nice people;
practice (“if you need to scream, you need to practice”);
and
make a decision!

These are just a few more of the many valuable lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALs.  I’m glad they have learned their lessons so well.

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You can purchase my synopsis (with handout + audio) of Leadership Lessons of the US. Navy SEALs, which comes with an introductory section about Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, with brief excerpts from Inside the Kingdom by Carmen bin Laden and The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright (this book won the Pulitzer Prize), from our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

A Mighty Fine Path to Quality (and Overall Success) – A Brief Look at the Quality of Mighty Fine Burgers

Hold weekly or monthly status meetings to ensure that everyone is aware of what’s going on.
Jeff Cannon, and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon, Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS : Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results

An effective rhythm of daily; weekly; monthly; quarterly; annual meetings to maintain alignment and drive accountability — “until your people are mocking you, you’ve not repeated your message enough.”
Verne Harnish, Mastering The Rockefeller Habits:  What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Fast-Growth Firm

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Mighty Fine Burgers (the one I eat at is in Round Rock) has some mighty fine hamburgers, and milk shakes – and a fun atmosphere, and a cool, space-age hand washing machine.  They offer a really! good!! hamburger!!!, and an even better shake!!!!  People tell me their fries are equally excellent, but I can’t vouch for those personally (I only have room for so many calories).  They also have their Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award banner prominently displayed — see:


I talked to one of their managers, Steven, and asked him how they won their Baldridge Award.  He said (paraphrased):  “we decided to go after it; we won a “Texas version” one year (the Texas Award For Performance Excellence); we kept improving, and then we won our Baldrige Award last year”  (Actually, the Baldrige Award was given to their parent company: K&N Management is the licensed Austin, Texas-area developer for Rudy’s “Country Store” & Bar-B-Q and the creator of Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes, two fast-casual restaurant concepts.  Read about their award here).

They absolutely focus on quality — from their web site:

Being from Austin means that the bar for quality is set very high, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. To us Quality is Everything, from our all-natural meat to our personalized bags, from our open kitchen to our world-class service. You might even say that we are a little weird about quality—in fact we are totally obsessed with it. We purposely limit our menu so that we can deliver the best food and best service to every one of our customers. We may only do a few things, but we do them better than any one else.

I kept after Steven, and asked this question:  how many meetings did you have with your people about your quest for quality?  The answer, as expected, was (paraphrasing again)– “daily, constantly, consistently…  we meet all the time.  We meet at the company management level, and with every shift team.  We meet, we aim for quality, we discuss quality, we improve quality…  we meet to accomplish our quality goals.”  They send the message about quality all the way up, and down, and through, their entire team.  What they discuss, what they decide, in top level meetings, is then distributed, cascading down throughout every shift team in the entire organization.

I have no doubt that quality, and all its related issues, are on the agenda day in and day out.  The result – a great burger, a great shake, a great experience, and a Baldrige Award.

And one loyal happy customer from Dallas.

The point of all this:  I have come to believe that the secret to reaching your goals is found through regular, well-run meetings. Yes, bad meetings — poorly run meetings —  can be bad for everyone.  But you cannot accomplish your goal(s) without talking about what people will actually do to accomplish the work required.  In these meetings, they discuss what needs to be done next, by whom, by when, in regular, interactive meetings.  Set clear standards, check progress, meet…  then do; then meet, debrief, give out the next assignments, and go do…repeat,repeat, repeat.  Over the long haul, you might develop better quality — you might even win a Baldrige Award.

“You accomplish what you meet about!”  Yes, you do!

Honoring our Military with a special Book Synopsis Presentation/Gathering – The Leadership Secrets of the Navy SEALs

The business world has increasingly become a world of individuals.  Corporate teams that once banded together to push forward are now like mercenary gangs…  Corporate culture has often become little more than a sea of managerial nomads, loyal to no one and motivated overwhelmingly by salary, convenience, and the size of the corporate gym…
This has been a disaster for managers and leaders who want to create values and get results.  It’s difficult to lead workers who have been abandoned to senior management.  It’s tough to make unpopular choices when senior management won’t back you up.  It’s hard to stay on course when subordinates can go around you. 
Enough…  It’s time to run your organization like a team again, and in a manner that is principally designed to produce results. 
Jeff Cannon, and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon:  Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS : Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results

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You are invited…

As we ponder the remarkable accomplishment of Navy SEAL Team 6, we will host a special Bonus Program Book Synopsis, focusing on the book  Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS : Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results by Jeff Cannon and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon.

I presented my synopsis of this book at the special request of a client company, and it is both a good book, and worth a new look after the recent accomplishment of this remarkable group of professionals in Pakistan.

I will begin will begin with a few reflections from the book The Looming Tower:  Al-Queda and The Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 2007), and then present the full synopsis of the Navy SEALs book.

Proceeds will be donated to Fisher House (Helping Military Families).  Fisher House is rated 4 stars by Charity Navigator, their highest rating..

Date:  May 23
Time:  7:30 am (we will begin serving breakfast at 7:00 am)
Place:  Park City Club, in the Park Cities/Dallas (near the corner of Northwest Highway and the Tollway)
Cost:  $30.00.

Please let us know if you plan to attend.  We will not offer on-line registration.  Either send me a direct e-mail (click here to send me that e-mail), or call Karl Krayer at 972-601-1537 to reserve your spot.  You can pay at the door with either check, cash, or credit or debit card.

Thank you.

Quotes for the Day from Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS – teamwork; planning!

The business world has increasingly become a world of individuals.  Corporate teams that once banded together to push forward are now like mercenary gangs…  Corporate culture has often become little more than a sea of managerial nomads, loyal to no one and motivated overwhelmingly by salary, convenience, and the size of the corporate gym…
This has been a disaster for managers and leaders who want to create values and get results.  It’s difficult to lead workers who have been abandoned to senior management.  It’s tough to make unpopular choices when senior management won’t back you up.  It’s hard to stay on course when subordinates can go around you.
Enough…  It’s time to run your organization like a team again, and in a manner that is principally designed to produce results.

Do you think you are spending too much time on planning?  Spend some more…  Success in the boardroom or on the battlefield does not require everything to go perfectly.  It requires you to be ready when things go wrong.
Set specific goals and establish identifiable paths to reach them…  Time after time, organizations fail to do this.

Jeff Cannon and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon,
Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS:
Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results