By Danny Abney
Sunday marked the end of the world-wide manhunt of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden as a team of US Navy SEALs invaded Bin Laden’s Pakistan based compound and executed a precision mission to kill the al-Qaida founder and figurehead who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks almost 10 years ago.
The success of this mission has put a spotlight on the US Navy SEALs, whose creed is “a special breed of warrior ready to answer our nation’s call”. These brave young men are definitely a “special breed”. As I have read more on these soldiers, I began to wonder what motivates someone to the type of duty that entails the amount of risk faced by these elite individuals?
- It is not the money – even though they are no doubt the best at what they do, they are not paid nearly what others at the “top of their craft” earn.
- It is certainly not the fame – the “Team 6” as they are unofficially named, are so far under the radar, they do not even officially exist.
So what is it that drives them? What makes them risk life and limb for their job? They are obviously dedicated to the protection of our country. These brave men undoubtedly are tremendous patriots, with an extreme sense of duty.
But deep down in their psyche what is it that drives them? Although the Navy SEALs are definitely extraordinary in a number of ways, I think one of their main drivers is something that is very common in everyone – they want to be a part of something larger or greater than themselves. Contrary to common belief, I think sacrifice required to be the best at what you do is driven less by personal ambition and greed and more by someone wanting to “make a difference” and be part of a greater goal.
This is a lesson we should all keep in mind as we try to build strong teams and cultures within the workplace. Individual incentives and competition are important, but we should not forget the cultural aspect of things and helping our employees understand the “big picture” they are contributing to. While most of our jobs do not entail anything as critical as our country’s national safety or hunting down Osama Bin Laden, these jobs still contribute to a larger purpose that is important in one way or another to the community.
Sharing this “greater cause” with your team does not require an inordinate amount of work. It can be as simple as quarterly or monthly team meetings where company results are shared and key contributors are recognized. The bottom line is the importance of communicating the “mission” of your organization and , just as importantly, the contributions your team makes to achieving that mission. Moreover, it is also important to provide the employee recognition that provides clarity to those values in action.
Someone’s first reaction might be that in today’s geographically dispersed organizations with flex-time and work-at-home schedules, this type of communication is difficult, but in fact that could not be further from the truth. Intranet, Internet and Social Networking tools make it possible to connect our teams more than ever. At LoyalNation we are firm believers in the importance of establishing a strong team culture and we have the social networking tools to make it happen.
In addition to using these tools to build and reinforce your company’s culture, they can also be critical in the execution of your day-to-day operations. As we saw this past week, the successful mission was a networked one, with networked communication in real time – SEALs on the ground, video streaming to the Situation Room, data being transmitted about flight routes, and more. This kind of networked collaboration enables quick learning, innovation, operational excellence, and ultimately success. That kind of networked employee engagement can be realized in your organization as well with the appropriate planning and tools.