Enjoy this excerpt from our new book, Healthy Leadership.

Many of today’s leadership practices are rooted in historical military testing, application, and refinement. But what can business leaders gain from current-day military leadership practices—specifically from the U.S. Navy—that have been honed for years? It turns out a lot!

Thanks to his lifelong friend, retired Bob Ernst, U.S. Navy Commander, Lee had the privilege of spending a weekend aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, about 100 miles off the shore of San Diego, as it prepared for a deployment.

This aircraft carrier is the proud flagship of the Navy’s fleet. It is like a floating city. Over 5,000 sailors live and work onboard, and the crews perform the most complex flight operations in the most tumultuous conditions—day and night, with absolutely no room for error.

Why? Because in this environment, the cost of an error could potentially be tens of millions of dollars in damaged Navy assets or even loss of life. No Top Gun movie scenes here. This is the real-life danger zone!

This type of environment demands nothing less than fully synchronized teamwork, passionate selflessness, relentless effort, and consistent execution. All this is delivered by sailors with an average age of 20 years old.

Think about it—this peak level of performance is achieved through the work of thousands of young sailors, most of whom did not have a clear direction after graduating high school, never mind an MBA. It is amusing when we contrast this with clients who are frustrated by their highly educated team’s performance—a team that is working in a nicely appointed, air-conditioned, land-based office. At the core of this stellar naval performance are crystal-clear expectations.

Healthy Leadership Book