04 Apr Building an “A Team” with Executives & Special Operations Veterans
We’ve just assembled a team for an expedition to Patagonia in October, and as we started to catalog the vast array of skills we’ll have, I realized we truly have a world-class team.
We were very intentional about creating a great team by design, not a mediocre team by default. Before I get into the how we did it, it’s important to understand the intended purpose of the expedition.
The location is in a remote wilderness area in Patagonia, Argentina. It’s an intentional (and international) step away from daily routines, which can be insular, noisy, and narrow making the time for reflection and re-thinking current approaches a challenge.
The Self-Reliant Leadership Crucible is designed to provide a powerful experience for executives, and transitioning Special Operations veterans. We know from past expeditions that the veterans impart just as much knowledge on the executives as they gain new business-world insights. The goal is to foster the exchange of new ideas, and expose the veterans to business executives who can help them see they already possesses the skills needed for today’s business challenges:
- Critical Problem Solving Skills
- Strong Adversity Quotient
Selection is critical as we aim to take leadership abilities to new levels in an intense, dynamic and unpredictable environment with a focus on facing adversity with resiliency, resourcefulness, clear communication, and more effective decision-making. The expedition has a wilderness element as well as a civic project component.
So what’s the secret?
We select individuals whose character reflects what we value.
We select for courage, humility and discipline respectively balanced by vigilance, confidence and innovation, to produce resourceful, collaborative, and focused people, teams, and organizations.
The team was selected based on three criteria:
1) Selfless, net-givers. Each person is more concerned about how they can contribute to the development of others than themselves. Each person possesses the desire to improve their own character through the pursuit of core virtues:
Wisdom | Courage | Humanity | Justice | Temperance | Transcendence
2) Adventurous. The participants are willing to face the edge. As Bill George stated in Authentic Leadership about effective leaders: “Their leadership emerged from their life stories. Consciously and subconsciously, they were constantly testing themselves through real-world experiences and reframing their life stories to understand who they were at their core.”
3) Heroic Aspirations. These leaders are ambitious beyond power and money with a sense of duty for their community and the world at large. They believe the best way to truly grow an organization is by developing their people.
We will spend a lot of time one-on-one and in group conference calls prior to the expedition regarding expectations. Each executive has been paired with a special operations veteran to assist them with their transition. All participants have been given pre-work, which emphasizes the traits described above, and expectations regarding selflessness, keeping communication simple, and the concept of slowing down to speed up.
By slowing down and hearing the unheard we build focus. Being focused allows us to create an inspired common purpose – based on shared values and common virtues – that binds people together in an uncommon way.
It’s an honor to work with leaders who constantly ask – “For whose good do I serve?” And it’s a privilege to work with leaders who possess heroic aspirations, and believe the best way to advance a cause is through the development of others.