With many people continuing to work from home during the pandemic, leaders are challenged with finding ways to motivate and bring together remote teams of employees. But it’s never been more important. Isolation and separation can cause stress that negatively impacts health and productivity. Retired Navy SEAL sniper Chris Sajnog, author of The New Rules of Marksmanship, says the strategies he used while leading a team of isolated warriors can help business leaders, too.
“Rather than focus on how to become a better leader, focus on how to make everybody on the team a leader,'” says Sajnog, who speaks to organizations about teamwork, training, and tactics. “With that mindset, people can lead themselves. If they see a void, they will jump in and fill it.”
To be a good leader, you need to be a good learner and that requires having the right mindset. “I take people through an exercise that is the power of why,” says Sajnog. “I ask them why they want to do something. Without a strong enough why, we won’t do the training.”
Figure out your why by continuing to refine it until it’s the strongest why you can have, says Sajnog. “If you can get to some version of love as the reason you want to do something, you’ll be motivated to do the work,” he says. “Being better at something is not a strong enough reason to propel you.”
Once every member of the team has a strong purpose, leaders need to ensure that each member can step into a leadership role flawlessly and at any moment. To explain the rules for being a good leader, Sajnog uses the acronym TEAMS.
Be willing to step up and take responsibility for the actions of the team. If not, the team can’t work cohesively and productively. “This one mindset affects everything you do in life,” says Sajnog. “You can’t change anything if you don’t take responsibility for it.”
This is more powerful than most people take into account, says Sajnog. “Think about any great sports team and imagine the players on that team not cheering for and supporting their teammate,” he says. “It’s impossible to imagine because it doesn’t happen.”
If things aren’t going well, avoid blame and encourage teammates instead. “Start cheering like you’re winning,” says Sanjog. “Positive thoughts and the belief in yourself and others are powerful.”
Ask for help
When you think of a Navy SEAL, you might imagine someone who is confident, in control, and doesn’t need help. The exact opposite is true, says Sajnog. “You may not know something on a mission, such as how to operate the radio if you’re not the radioman in case something happens or how to stop bleeding if you’re not the medic,” he says. “We train our team to always ask for help when it’s needed. You get better results when you’re not afraid to ask questions.”
Master your job
It’s easy to see where other people make mistakes or fall short, but this type of focus won’t help your team. Instead, master your own job, says Sanjog.
“You often see this in sports, pointing at the person who dropped the ball,” he says. “It’s true in business, too, with people trying to assign blame. But if you mastered your own job, you would make the whole team stronger. You need to focus on what you did and how you can become better.”
Sacrifice for the team
In a SEAL team, members are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice—their lives. In business, the stakes aren’t as high, but the willingness to give of yourself is important, nonetheless.
“It can be as simple as coming in early to help a teammate if you know they need help with project,” says Sajnog. “Do the work without requesting any type of acknowledgement or bonus. You can help remotely, too.”
If everyone on the team becomes a leader, an organization can work together cohesively to achieve a mission.”Without a doubt, leadership is more important now than ever,” says Sajnog. “I ask business leaders, would you rather have me teach you to be a great leader or teach your entire organization how to be leaders. Organizations can be more successful if everyone on the team is a leader.”