In the most recent episode of Sandler’s ACTivation Nation podcast, I had the distinct pleasure of getting to know Marty Strong. Marty is a retired Navy SEAL. He’s also CEO of LGS Management Group and author of the newly released book, Be Nimble – How the Creative Navy Seal Mindset Wins on the Battlefield and in Business
To be a sales leader that thinks like a Navy SEAL, Marty sets the stage for us this way:
Imagine, you’re a commander in a fast-attack submarine and you’ve got a lot of things that you’ve got to maintain to do your job, or your mission. In a submarine’s case, there is a lot of machinery and a system of supervision at multiple levels. They have all kinds of technology interwoven, giving those supervisors instant feedback across feedback loops from people and systems. All that feeds into a control room, or what the business world would refer to as a dashboard.
This control room, or dashboard, is what everyone is responsible for monitoring, watching, and measuring. The person in command of that submarine, the Captain, is not running from the nose to the back of the submarine trying to check everyone’s work. The Captain is listening, watching everyone’s body language, and monitoring the dashboard indicators. They know that something can go wrong, and so what they are looking for is to see that all the systems are working in concert to execute, before something goes wrong.
In reality, the Captain’s job is to make decisions when it doesn’t happen that way. That is what separates managing from leading. Managing is tracking all those daily systems, processes, and ensuring that those technical experts are doing their jobs. While leading is a higher art form – and it’s most important when all those other things fail. Because when they do fail, somebody with judgment and a bigger overview has to see what’s working, what’s not working, who’s working, and who’s not working, and then start making decisions. There is no time to gather a committee and get everyone together and ask for opinions. In the military, if it’s life and death, or if it’s a nuclear submarine, or if it’s a SEAL mission, you don’t have time to get everybody together and try to get buy-in and kind of a social contract on what do we want to do next — that’s why you have leaders.
Catch the entire conversation with Marty, and previous ACTivation Nation episodes on Apple Podcasts & Spotify. To borrow a phrase from the SEALS, remember, “The only easy day was yesterday.”