Jocko Willink and Leif Babin have built their post-Navy SEAL careers around the art of leadership.
Willink was the head of US Navy SEAL Team 3 Task Unit Bruiser, the most highly decorated U.S. special operations unit of the Iraq War, and Babin was one of the two platoon leaders who reported to him. After their service, Willink and Babin founded Echelon Front in 2010 as a way to bring what they learned in the military to the business world.
Business Insider interviewed Willink and Babin about their new book on the subject, The Dichotomy of Leadership, and they told us that over their work with more than 400 businesses and their leadership conferences, they've found inexperienced leaders are regularly making the same mistakes.
1. They think they have to know everything
"The best possible thing you can do as a new leader is, if there's something that you don't know, raise your hand and say, 'Hey guys, I'm new at this. Do you know a better way to do this?' or, 'Do you know how to do this?' or, 'Can you give me a hand?'"
Willink said he's found that a fear of losing trust is what keeps leaders from asking these simple questions, but that this approach actually increases a team's respect because it shows honesty, and it will avoid problems in the long term because it won't require faking knowledge.
"So don't worry about saying, 'I don't know something,'" Willink said. "It's perfectly fine. You just showed up! No one expects you to know everything. Relax. And ask some questions."
2. They think their problems are unique
Babin said he also regularly finds new leaders become convinced that the problems they're facing are so specific to them that outside help wouldn't help. "And they think their problems are harder than everyone else's problems," he said. "It's very common. I've fallen into that trap, as well."
This tendency is ultimately about shifting responsibility.
"Because as long as you're making excuse for yourself, an excuse for your team, you're never going to actually solve the problems that are causing you to not perform the way you should, and therefore you're going to keep repeating those same mistakes," Babin said. "Step up, find a way to solve those problems, and win."
Dan Caldwell, the executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, and Jon Soltz, the chairman for VoteVets on MSNBC's Morning Joe on March 18 discussing their campaign to see Congress end America's Forever Wars. (MSNBC/Youtube)
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On Sunday, Dion Nissenbaum and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported that the U.S. military is considering leaving as many as 1,000 troops in Syria to prevent Turkey from attacking the United States' Kurdish allies. So far, the United States and Turkey have failed to agree on how to secure the proposed safe zone.
U.S. Army Sgt. James R. Moore of Portland, Ore., a logitstics NCO with the 642nd Regional Support Group, shoots at the Fort Pickett rifle range as part of the Mortuary Affairs Exercise Aug. 15, 2018. (U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class Gary A. Witte, 642nd Regional Support Group)
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