What does the future hold for business and everyday life? Will we be able to get back to “normal?” These questions are extremely difficult to answer, but one thing is certain; Leadership, Management and Teamwork will be the means to a successful future at every level of daily life.
As I look back over my career of nearly 36 years of active duty in the United States Navy and over 8 years as a Leadership and Teamwork Performance Coach, I see that at every level of responsibility there are unknowns and variables that cannot be anticipated, which in many ways is no different than the impact of the Corona virus. Effective leadership and teamwork is the one constant for success.
During my military career I performed every job from cleaning decks and basic security watches to managing the 3rd largest naval base in the world. Although my responsibilities increased, the daily process was the same. Proper job planning with a continuous improvement cycle, based on lessons learned and key performance indicators always led to a more efficient and effective job.
Most of my military background was serving onboard, maintaining and managing nuclear powered submarines. There is no room for error onboard a submarine. Every person serving onboard is required to “qualify in submarines”, a process that requires each crew member to learn the purpose and functionality of every system on the ship. This qualification is certified by their peers to not only validate knowledge levels, but to build team confidence. Every individual is key to the operation at hand and may be the one person, who due to their extensive training and experience, reacts properly in times of a casualty to save the entire submarine from perishing. I have found this level of knowledge and confidence to be common in the teams I have consulted in Seismic Survey and Oil & Gas industries.
Normal operations can go bad or be influenced by something extraordinary, requiring teams and individuals to act based on the current conditions and capabilities to restore “normal”. At many levels, this dedication to knowledge and process effectiveness transfers to most, if not all industries at some level.
Mistakes, frustration and failures will happen, but great teams execute a steadfast process consisting of a plan and approach to conducting business that affords the best opportunity to anticipate the impact of the unknown. Teams must build a plan based on the capabilities and tools available, effectively communicate the plan to the entire team, identify and document lessons learned, and ensure the lessons are appropriately applied to the processes and training prior to conducting the same plan again. Sounds simple enough, but without solid leadership at all levels of the organization, the team will not learn from their mistakes and the result will be more failure. This is particularly challenging in high hazard environments where the exposure to personnel and equipment is a daily occurrence.
Never Stop Learning
Conducting a thorough review of “what went right, what went wrong, and what can be done better next time” and being self-critical and learning from mistakes moves an organization closer to perfection. You may never be perfect, but the pursuit of excellence will get us to a safer and more efficient “new normal”.
Jim has over 44 years of experience in the US Navy along with providing coaching and mentoring to all levels of leadership in high performance / reliability organizations. During his 36 years in the US Navy, he excelled in leading and managing Personnel, Research and Development Systems, Ship-board Electronic and Mechanical Systems, and Multi- Functional Projects in extremely challenging, high risk environments around the globe. His military background includes 30 years at sea, operational and maintenance experience on board Warships, Submarines, Marine Vessels, and Executive Management of the US Navy’s 3rd largest base with a population of over 30,000 personnel. Most recently, he has spent the last 8 years training and coaching entire crews in the oil & gas and maritime industry. He has extensive experience providing leadership briefing and consulting to the highest levels of the Military, Oil & Gas and Maritime industries.
James “Jim” Travers
CAVU Safety, Performance and Leadership Coach
Commander, USN (Ret.)