The Fifth Factor

I finally wrote the essay that answers the question – why did you name your new company “Fifth Factor Leadership?”  You can read the essay by clicking here. The short (but incomplete) answer is “The Fifth Factor is good judgment built on experience and good character.”

I have recently had the privilege of speaking at some great events to include a Risk Management Conference in Austin, Tx, and to Routesmart International in San Diego, and I was invited to participate in a fascinating panel hosted by the Jack Kemp Foundation on ‘The American Idea’ in Washington DC. It was an invitee-only conference and I got to meet a number of luminaries from the world of political journalism – especially those who lean toward a more conservative political philosophy, such as Peggy Noonan, Bill Kristol, Garry Kasparov, Fred Barnes, and from the center left, one of my favorites, Juan Williams.

I go into the summer with a number of opportunities for Fifth Factor Leadership, as well as a commitment to write a chapter on Institutional Leadership for a book which will be entitled Riders on the Storm meant for public servants in other countries to help them manage counter-terrorism and other challenges to public order and the authority of their governments.

And I am preparing to help lead the week long National Outdoor Leadership School Executive Leadership Expedition in August. As of 1 June, we still have 3 spots available, and if you might be interested or would like to know more, please see the tab on this website.

One of the problems with living in San Diego, is that we have a summer pace-of-life all year long. When I lived on the East Coast (most of my life,) winter was a time to back down, stay indoors and rejuvenate, and then we would ramp up activity in March and April into a full sprint by June. Not so in San Diego. It seems most of us are in a sprint here, all year long!

Developing Elite Corporate Cultures

I have recently revised the approach I take to speaking and consulting on leadership.

Over the last 18 months, I have been applying my experience and lessons learned working with elite military units to the challenges of leadership in the corporate sector.  My experience leading a graduate program focused on Global Leadership in University of San Diego’s School of Business Administration has also informed my insights into the business side of that equation.  

After speaking and leading seminars on what I called ‘Commando Leadership,’ I realized that in fact I was speaking more on how great leaders develop and sustain strong teams, rather than on leadership ‘techniques’ per se.  I was also recently made aware of a point of confusion in the title ‘Commando Leadership:’  I was told that some in my audience thought of ‘commando’ in the context of ‘going commando,’ and were looking forward to hearing a retired Navy SEAL talk about leadership without underwear.  Hmmmm…. maybe I should explore the potential in that approach too! 

‘Developing an Elite Corporate Cultures’ feels right to me -  much better than Commando Leadership. Retitling the presentations I offer to Vistage International, and shifting my focus to how leaders build, influence and sustain a winning team is a much more appealing topic for me.  That, in my mind, is the art of great leadership, and it requires different approaches with different people, within different corporate cultures and in different contexts.  I am quite familiar with the formula that works for elite military ‘commando’ units – and the similarities between ‘commando’ units such as the SEALs, Green Berets, Delta Force, Marine Recon, as well as Fighter Pilots and other ‘elite’ units are much more striking than the differences.  Though the corporate world is indeed different, my experience is that aggressive, competent, and ambitious people seek many of the same things in any contexts – they want to be challenged, they want opportunities to grow, and they want to do so within a winning ‘tribe.’   They want to believe in themselves, their colleagues and what they’re doing.  They want what Daniel Pink in his book Drive referred to as  autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Great leadership taps into this primal source of energy, and feeds it.  Poor leadership at best ignores it, at worst, actively suppresses and undermines it. 

Elite military units and elite corporate teams share many common qualities. I am looking forward to continuing to build the bridge between these two cultures – and helping each to learn from the other. 

Now it’s 2014

I’ve begun the new year with a bang and I’m looking forward to more great work, and building momentum for Fifth Factor Leadership during 2014. After speaking in Saskatoon and Regina Canada this fall, I got referrals that led to three engagements in Winnipeg in January for TEC Canada.  Great people and a great city, and being in Winnipeg in January reminded me that cold weather often brings out the best in people. I very much enjoyed my visit; it was -14 when I left Winnipeg and +60 in San Diego when I returned.  I have a presentation 8 Feb in San Diego for CCIM, a non-profit global professional organization for leaders in commercial and investment real-estate.  A few days later, I leave to instruct a leadership course for Wildland Firefighters in the Lassen National Forest for the National Outdoor Leadership School.  When I return, we are at the front end of spring and a number of new opportunities are filling up the calendar already.

After consulting with a number of people, I’ve changed the focus of my standard presentation from ‘”Commando Leadership” to  “Developing a Winning Team and an Elite Corporate Culture.”   Several people who had sat in on my presentations suggested that my focus is really on creating a great culture in a business, and that I address leadership is a means to that end.  Based on my career with the Navy SEALs, I argue that the sense of purpose, trust, focus and camaraderie that one finds in the best commando units can be replicated to a degree in business, and can similarly achieve great results.   In my view, the measure of really good leadership is in how well the team works together to achieve its goals, given variables in context, people, mission and specific challenges of a team.  I believe that a key function of leadership is to create and sustain a great culture in an organization.   I am excited about this shift in focus and direction – it feels right to me.

And I keep writing and submitting input to Bob’s Corner and elsewhere.   More to follow.

So what’s new?

Last week, I was the guest speaker at the Naval Special Warfare SEAL Qualification Training graduation ceremony for class 297. After over 14 months for most, they are now qualified as Navy SEALs.  I gave the keynote remarks and then helped pin the tridents on the new SEALs.  Quite an honor – but I had no inflated sense of the importance of my remarks.  I knew that the young, newly minted SEALs just wanted to graduate and celebrate, so my remarks spoke mostly to their parents and guests!

I completed the SuperFrog Half Ironman and published blog essay “Self Talk – Just Keep Going.”  A link to it is included in ‘What I’ve Written’ on this site.

I was notified that an interview and some other footage of me was included in a French television travel program about Coronado that aired in France last week.  It can be viewed here , and the interview and sections with me in them begin at 11:15 and 13:17 in the program.

Next week, I go to Lander Wyoming to attend the annual Advisory Council and Board of Trustees meeting for the National Outdoor Leadership School  (NOLS), and I’ll also be visiting my daughter who is interning there. When I return, I will be leading a workshop on leadership and team building for heads of Real Estate companies, and a few days later talking to a group of people in Carlsbad about the culture of the Navy SEALs.  These are busy, good times.

 

Article in Risk Management Magazine

Mike Richardson has been one of my mentors for several years – he is a former CEO of an International business, is currently a Vistage chair, has published a well received book on Business Leadership (Wheel$pin – the Agile Executive’s Manifesto), and runs his own successful consulting firm, Sherpa Alliance.  Mike suggested that he and I collaborate on an article that brings his focus on helping business leaders develop greater AGILITY in the chaos of business, with my experience preparing young commandos for managing chaos on the battlefield.  We worked on the article off and on for over a year, and it was finally posted on-line at Risk Management Magazine (click here)

As is common in these sort of things, the original version of this article was well over 4 times as long as what was finally posted.  Given the format restrictions and the targeted audience, we knew we had to cut out some good content, and it took us a while to edit our article down to about 1500 words. It was a lot of fun working with Mike on exploring the intersection of Navy SEAL (and other commando units) approaches to battlefield problems, and the challenges business leaders face in a chaotic market place.  We went into greater depth on this idea during a discussion we recorded in a webinar which Mike posted on his website at mydrivingseat.com (available here), and subsequently Mike had me come speak to his Vistage groups.  I enjoyed and learned a lot from this process, and use much of what Mike and I explored together in the work I’ve done since.

End of Summer

Moving into the fall, the summer has flown by.  I just returned from helping to lead an Executive Leadership Expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School, and in my most recent Bob’s Corner blog Unplugging to Plug in (which you can see under the tab ‘what I’ve written’ on the home pate) I offer my impressions after returning from a great trip. We are already planning next summer’s expedition.

A week after returning from the mountains of Wyoming, I gave the opening Keynote for a Returning Warriors Workshop in Palm Desert, and began the fall semester, teaching Ethics for Global Business for the Master of Science in Global Leadership program at USD. I’ve been getting some more momentum with my Vistage speaking, while I also prep myself for the SuperFrog Half Ironman at the end of September.  I can already see that, as we finish up the summer and get into the fall, a busy schedule will be getting busier.

Some lessons learned

Interesting, the disparity between speaking before a group of employees in a large organization (STRATCOM) and a group of CEO’s in a somewhat smaller group.  In the first case, it was a bit of a struggle to get the group to engage; in the second, it was a struggle to get through the main points of what I intended to deliver, since they were so engaged, and wanted to run with each idea presented.

Finding that sweet spot between getting through the key points of my message, and letting the group explore and run with what is on their minds will be a continuing challenge, and will be different with each group.

May 2013 Update – What I’ve been up to

On 1 May I gave presentations to two groups at STRATCOM in Omaha Nebraska on Resilience in the Face of Uncertainty.  I shared with them some of how Businesses succeed in uncertain and chaotic times, and gave them some thoughts on developing more creativity in their organization.

On 3 May I was the guest speaker at a Balboa Internal Medicine Dining Out at the Marine Corps Base – that was a fun.  They wanted some edgy SEAL stories, so I opened with “So there I was, in a gay bar in St Thomas….”

This week I present to two of Mike Malone’s Vistage CEO groups on Commando Leadership – generating energy and a tribal spirit within your company.

Welcome to Fifth Factor Leadership!

Please click on the links above to find out more about who I am and what I offer.  I continue to contribute to my personal blot at bobscorner.wordpress.com. Under what I’ve written are the titles and links to previous essays.

Come back to visit as I and Fifth Factor Leadership continue to grow and evolve.   An interview with me recently appeared in Forbes on-line:

A Navy Seal Talks About Chaos, Leadership and Innovation
http://www.forbes.com/sites/henrydoss/2013/01/22/a-navy-seal-talks-about-chaos-leadership-and-innovation/

Thank you for your interest, and if you have any questions, please contact me at schoultz@sandiego.edu.   Bob

Best page now: Read my previous blog posts.