Follow a Navy SEAL’s playbook

Navy SEALsRetired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink trains executives on leadership, applying lessons he learned from his 20-year military career. Examples:

Know when to follow. Insisting that you have all the answers can lead to bad or ill-informed decisions. For Willink, the most enlightened leaders shove aside their ego and personal agenda—and welcome suggestions from team members.

Tamp down your aggression. Military commanders must radiate authority. But there’s a difference between asserting your powerful presence and intimidating employees or beating them into submission.

Willink wanted subordinates to voice their ideas and concerns, and he tried to respond with openness. But if they complained, he shut them down.

Express emotion—within limits. If you’re too demonstrative with your emotions, your intensity can drive people away. But if you’re too robotic, you can come across as unfeeling.

Willink attempted to strike a balance. In certain situations, however, he exhibited genuine emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, etc.) and bonded with his unit as a result.

Withstand pressure. In the 2006 Battle of Ramadi in Iraq, Willink recalls delaying an attack until he gathered every detail about a target. His decision to wait annoyed other units that were eager to launch the offensive, but the delay avoided a friendly fire incident.

— Adapted from “A retired Navy SEAL commander explains 12 traits all effective leaders must have,” Richard Feloli, Business Insider,