What Green Berets Can Teach Your Business about Building a High-Performance Organization?
Most of Brian Decker’s 22 years in the Army has spent as a Green Beret. As Director of Team Development for the Indianapolis Colts, his coaching philosophy was to create a team-oriented approach to overcoming adversity. Frank Reich, head coach of the Colts, said, “Deck is a leading thinker in leadership, culture, and character.” For years, firms expressed interest in hiring Green Berets but could not convert their talents. Now, CEOs are almost backing their vehicles up to Special Forces bases and loading up on members.
Ex-soldiers have been hired in fields as diverse as investment banking, real estate development, consultancy, and manufacturing. It is difficult to determine the number of Green Berets employed for executive-level positions in corporate America. However, anecdotal data indicates that CEOs are effusive when questioned about their hires. Green Beret: “Corporate America must realize that Special Forces have already conducted 90 percent of the essential assessment.” Strong, physically strong warriors who can run far and shoot accurately are plenty in today’s military.
Deloitte is aggressively trying to employ additional Green Berets in transition, notably in the management consulting practice. They are skilled specialists in negotiations, sales, marketing, and instruction. An ex-Green Beret said, “The worst day at my company is nothing compared to what I experienced in war.” Most of their missions are secret, but we were permitted to relate a few pertinent anecdotes. Green Berets are at ease acting alone and improvising in challenging conditions.
One Green Beret remembered being dispatched on a mission to Kyrgyzstan and assuming his unit had the proper documentation to get through customs in a lawless remote area. “We came up with the notion of marking our documents with ink and foreign currencies,” he said. A second individual described a perilous situation during fighting in northern Syria.
A veteran Green Beret whose unit was among the first to enter the Syrian city of Raqqa said, “We are specialists in $20 solutions to $1,000 issues.” CEO of GE Appliances Kevin Nolan has a scheme to hire Green Berets as problem-solving interns for many months at his multibillion-dollar firm before returning them to the Army.
Nolan: “They might conduct examinations that necessitated traveling outside the regular swimming lanes we maintained.” Craig Powell, the Green Berets’ founder, described them as “the poets of the military, combining creative brains and muscle.” The CEO of Motus was attracted to hiring them due to their “big package of humility around their skills.”
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