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Facing fear makes you a better leader

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Imagine you’ve shown up for three days of leadership training. On the first night, you’ve settled in for a good night’s sleep when, just after midnight, someone wakes you and takes you to a nearby bay for a two-mile swim.

It’s dark. You’re tired. And you don’t know the other trainees.

That’s how Rob Roy kicks off his 80-hour leadership course called ­SOT-G, inspired by military combat prep. Roy, a former Navy SEAL, puts business leaders through the physical challenge to bring people together—just as the SEALs do.

The purpose of that first night’s swim isn’t so much about the water. “It’s the darkness, and to get them to face their fears with folks they’ve never met,” explains Roy. “The purpose is to show them that they can walk into any situation and come out ahead.”

In the future, he says, when faced with a challenge, a leader can put it in perspective by recalling the night swim: “They’ll refer back to this time and say, ‘Yeah, this is difficult, but I can make it through.’”

Anybody can make a snap decision when conditions are favorable. But in the midst of turbulence, a great leader is able to make correct decisions and think about the other people in their group. Roy wants to cultivate great ­leaders.

“In business, a great leader is someone who is going to step up at a difficult moment and make that next decision,” he says. “He’ll go into it blind, but people will follow him, because they’ll know he always has their best interests in mind.”

— Adapted from “Training CEOs To Be Better Leaders,” Eric Markowitz, Inc.

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