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Teamwork Is The Most Important Lesson You Learn From The Military
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.
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.”
As the military services each roll out new policies regarding hemp-derived products like cannabidiol, or CBD, the Defense Department is not mincing words.
"It's completely forbidden for use by any service member in any of the services at this point of time," said Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
The warning, along with the policies issued recently by the Air Force, Coast Guard and Department of the Navy, comes as CBD is becoming increasingly ubiquitous across the country in many forms, from coffee additives and vaping liquids to tinctures, candies and other foods, carrying promises of health benefits ranging from pain and anxiety relief to sleeping aids and inflammation reduction.
The Navy has fired five senior leaders so far in August – and the month isn't even over.
While the sea service is famous for instilling in officers that they are responsible for any wrongdoing by their sailors – whether they are aware of the infractions or not – the recent rash of firings is a lot, even for the Navy.
A Navy spokesman said there is no connection between any of the five officers relieved of command, adding that each relief is looked at separately.
'We are a people organization' — Army leaders push renewed focus on soldiers amid rise in sexual assaults and suicides
After months of focusing on modernization priorities, Army leadership plans to tackle persisting personnel issues in the coming years.
Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday at an event with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that what people can to hear service leadership "talk a lot about ... our people. Investing in our people, so that they can reach their potential. ... We are a people organization."
Two U.S. military service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Resolute Support mission announced in a press release.
Their identities are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, the command added.
A total of 16 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far in 2019. Fourteen of those service members have died in combat including two service members killed in an apparent insider attack on July 29.
Two U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been killed in non-combat incidents and a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was declared dead after falling overboard while the ship was supporting operations in Afghanistan.
At least two defense contractors have also been killed in Afghanistan. One was a Navy veteran and the other had served in the Army.