I recently read an interesting article by Michael Schrage in Harvard Business Review titled How the Navy SEALs Train for Leadership Excellence. One key component of how the Navy SEALs train for leadership excellence is reflected in a great quote by Brandon Webb, the SEAL trainer that redesigned the SEAL training curriculum . . . “Training programs shouldn’t be designed to deliver competence; they must be dedicated to producing excellence. Serious organizations don’t aspire to be comfortably above average.”
Some key points from the article:
"real-world excellence requires more than commitment to educational achievement"
"business schools and high-performance businesses overinvest in 'education' and dramatically underinvest in 'training'”
“'Under pressure,' according to SEAL lore, 'you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.'”
4 training themes:
"Produce Excellence, Not 'Above Average'”
"Incentivize Excellence Not Competence"
"Incorporate New Ideas from the Ground" . . . "successful training must be dynamic, open and innovative"
"Lead by Example"
"He broke the class into pairs, assigning mentors to boost support and accountability"
On a five-point scale, Deloitte managers write down how strongly they agree with two assertions: “Given what I know of this person’s performance, and if it were my money, I would award this person the highest possible compensation increase and bonus;” and “Given what I know of this person’s performance, I would always want him or her on my team.” And they answer yes or no to two more statements: “This person is at risk for low performance,” and “This person is ready for promotion today.” The answers are used not only to make decisions about who should be promoted or how much she should be paid, but to influence how the company helps promising employees advance and helps troubled ones get back on track. As some of the people involved in Deloitte’s ratings redesign put it: “In effect, we are asking our team leaders what they would do with each team member rather than what they think of that individual.”
After reading the article one of my clients asked me the following . . . "What about rating distribution curves? Is that important? Is a Bell Curve what we should aspire to have?"
My answer - There is a lot of research saying that the performance Bell Curve model doesn't accurately reflect the way people perform, especially in the modern workplace. I thought I'd share a few interesting articles to that point . . .
The Myth Of The Bell Curve: Look For The Hyper-Performers