At this year’s National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) convention, Rock Products once again sponsored the Young Leaders Luncheon. This year’s speaker was former Navy SEAL David Sears.
For 20 years, Sears served in the most elite special operations force in the world. His vision and mission-oriented leadership has produced results in the most demanding and dynamic environments. A decorated veteran, he planned, led and executed hundreds of special operations missions in more than 40 countries on five continents.
Sears has extensive management experience in international and multicultural environments and unique expertise in building peak-performing teams and maximizing result, from the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq to the jungles of Colombia and the oceans of the world.
Sears made an enthusiastic presentation to the Young Leaders, offering a high-energy look into how audiences can apply the best of the Navy SEALs to their own company. He shared stories about some of the missions he has been involved with and touched on themes like decision-making, leadership, teamwork, planning and execution.
As a troop commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group, he described the ground assault on an Iraqi paramilitary stronghold to conduct the first successful U.S. prisoner of war rescue since WWII. He also detailed how, years later, in the jungles of Colombia, he played a key role in the planning and execution of Operation JAQUE, the successful rescue of U.S. and Colombian personnel held for more than five years in captivity by the FARC.
Beyond his role as a tactical and operational leader, Sears talked about solving major national security problems. His unique in-depth assessments and planning has influenced National Security Policy and subsequent resource decisions. He has briefed the Secretary of Defense, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, director of the CIA, director of the NSA, director of National Intelligence, the National Security Council, as well as ambassadors, executive-level leaders at U.S. combatant commands, and foreign partner nations.
Sears’ descriptions of perilous skydiving and scuba diving escapades, and the accompanying visuals, kept the Young Leaders group fascinated for nearly an hour.
Tips from a Navy SEAL
Former Navy SEAL David Sears offered the Young Leaders group several tips on how rising leaders can build their support networks to promote continued success throughout their careers.
“Is your decision suitable, acceptable, feasible and achieves the end state?” he asked.
- Suitable: Will a particular decision help achieve the end goal? If not, then explore other options.
- Acceptable: “This is the ethical component,” he said. “Run that by the value of your company, your organization and your personal values, as well.” Once, Sears was faced with a decision on how to move forward with a mission after his team unexpectedly encountered children from a local village. “They got within inches away from us and that left us with a decision to make. Do we move ahead, tie them up? We shooed them away and we aborted the mission for higher ground.”
- Feasible: Leaders need to understand the abilities of their company and team to execute on decisions. “This one’s pretty simple,” he said, “Ask yourself ‘Do I have the resources to execute this?’”
- End state: Leaders keep focused on the end state or result. “You are going to get bounced off your plan. Don’t try to get back to the line you planned … instead, reroute yourself while still being consistent with where you want to go,” he said.