Teamwork Is The Most Important Lesson You Learn From The Military

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Photo via U.S. Army

Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on the personal website of Brad Harrison.


Of the first ten years of my grown up life, I spent four at West Point and the remainder as an  Airborne Ranger in the Army. The key principles that we focused on were leadership, teamwork, and integrity. These are also the core principles that the team at Scout Ventures believes is critical to strong management teams.

This week I’ve been working with one of our teams and they are struggling with teamwork. Each founder is bright with unique and relevant experience, and they all complement each other well. Unfortunately, they struggle with creating their own support structure because their teamwork skills are weak. I know this because when they have heated discussions about the direction of their product and business, they often can’t reach a solution without coming to me to help broker the negotiation.

In large companies, we see a strong focus on teamwork within certain verticals --- sales, marketing, product, technology, etc. --- but these teams often don’t see eye to eye when they compete for required resources like budget, manpower, etc.

My greatest life lessons came through failure »

In early stage startups, resources are much more limited and it’s often teamwork and shared resources that enable these businesses to get things done and succeed.

But when there are more than two founders, it is inevitable that someone is not comfortable in his or her role. This happens when multiple founders want or think they can be CEO, or when they simply can’t agree on titles and responsibility. This can become even worse when the company is raising money and there’s a prospect of hiring new people. In all cases, teamwork often suffers.

How can this be resolved?

First and foremost, believe in leadership. This means that one person must be responsible for providing direction to the team. This is the CEO. And this is a critical piece for creating a strong team.

Second, the CEO needs to set an environment based on mutual respect. This is so important for getting each and every member of the team engaged with the understanding that their opinion matters.

Third, the CEO needs to engage his or her team members and have them work to solve problems. This often requires asking people to provide their perspectives and having a constructive conversation exploring opposite points of view.

Fourth, regardless of the outcome of a specific debate, the team needs to all embrace the decision and move forward. Moving forward means each team member supports their peers even if they didn’t agree with the decision.

And last, the CEO needs to bring the team together to bond and move forward. At Scout Ventures, we like to have a good meal or take everyone out for a night; either way our goal by the end of the night is to hear the founders saying, “I love you man,” “I understand the decision,” “I got your back,” and “We’re going to be a billion-dollar company.”

That’s teamwork.

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And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

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U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Karl Munson pilots a 26-foot boat while Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Diaz keeps an eye on a boarding team who is inspecting a 79-foot shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of New Orleans, La., on April 27, 2005

Radio transmissions to the U.S. Coast Guard are usually calls for help from boaters, but one captain got on the radio recently just to say thanks to the men and women who are currently working without pay.

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REUTERS/Carlos Barria

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.

Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"

Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure that he planned to meet the families, a duty which he said "might be the toughest thing I have to do as president."

He was greeted by military staff at Dover Air Force Base after a short flight from Joint Base Andrews, but did not speak to reporters before entering his motorcade.

Flanked by military officials, Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan filed up a ramp leading onto a military transport aircraft, where a prayer was given to honor the memory of Scott Wirtz, a civilian Department of Defense employee from St. Louis.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump filed down the plank and saluted while six service members clad in fatigues and white gloves carried an American flag-draped casket carrying Wirtz to a waiting gray van.

The Dover base is a traditional hub for returning the remains of American troops abroad.

The United States believes the attack that killed the Americans was the work of Islamic State militants.

Trump announced last month that he planned to speedily withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but has since said it does not need to go quickly as he tries to ensure safety of Kurdish allies in northern Syria who are at risk of attack from neighboring Turkey.

Trump told reporters on Saturday that his Syria policy has made progress but that some work remained in destroying Islamic State targets. He defended his plans for a withdrawal.

"It's moving along very well, but when I took over it was a total mess. But you do have to ask yourself, we're killing ISIS for Russia, for Iran, for Syria, for Iraq, for a lot of other places. At some point you want to bring our people back home," he said.

In addition to Wirtz, those who died during the Wednesday attack in Manbij, Syria, were Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent, 35, identified as being from upstate New York, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

The Pentagon did not identify the fourth person killed, a contractor working for a private company. U.S. media identified her as Ghadir Taher, a 27-year-old employee of defense contractor Valiant Integrated Services.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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George W. Bush/Instagram

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.

In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.

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