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Why Great Leaders Never Stop Training
 

If you think you are done learning, you will fail. Check that: You have failed.

Navy SEALs training in Long Beach, California. July, 2011.

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“We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me. My training is never complete.” - Navy SEAL Creed

Becoming a Navy SEAL involves a year of the most intensive physical and mental training the U.S. military has to offer. But once you make it through, and join the ranks of the “elite,” you realize you are just another new guy in an already well-established organization. And it only gets tougher from there. The training never ends, and every single mission is rehearsed.

It's no different in business. Leaders usually know that their people need training and development. The smartest leaders understand that the same applies to them--and that the need is ongoing.

Here are five responsibilities that ensure leaders can never stop training:

1.     Leaders define the mission. A clearly defined mission starts with the leadership, is ingrained in the team, and is constantly reviewed. Mission success relies more on training than it does on planning. Rarely is a plan executed exactly as it has been laid out, because external forces prevent this. Thus the leadership and team must be ready to adapt. Adaptation requires ability, and ability comes from training.

2.     Leaders set, and reset, the vision. It’s up to leadership to know when shifts in a company’s vision must happen. The organization’s ultimate direction may not change but how you get there most certainly will. That means having a keen understanding of industry trends, economic cycles, and competitive movement. Leaders must be constantly acquiring knowledge and looking to the future.

3.     Leaders build the team. As a company grows it will require different types of talent. If you find the right people and train them accordingly, they will stick around and the business will thrive. It takes good leadership to identify who to hire and the roles to put those people in. This too requires ongoing knowledge development.

4.     Leaders embrace the necessity of growth, both personal and professional. If the mind and body are not in a constant state of growth, eventually things stagnate and progress stalls. Instilling the importance of learning in the team is one thing, but leadership has to embrace this first. Great leaders are always seeking knowledge, developing their minds, and maintaining their bodies. Mental and physical wellness is essential for optimal leadership.

5.     Leaders execute. An organization’s strategic plan means nothing without exceptional execution. As a company grows, the methods of mission execution will change. So will the way in which products and services are provided. The leadership has to build this into the culture, provide the team the proper resources, and remove obstacles. Companies that fail do not fail because the plan wasn’t good enough. They fail because the leaders didn’t execute.

These five responsibilities require leaders to be in a perpetual state of development. Get on it!

IMAGE: usnavy/Flickr
Last updated: Mar 21, 2013

Navy SEAL combat veteran BRENT GLEESON is the co-founder and CMO at Internet Marketing Inc., No. 185 on the 2012 Inc. 500. His leadership approach is inspired by the unrivaled SEAL training and the Navy SEAL Creed.
@brentgleeson




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