All this month, we’ve been looking at how to improve your EQ as an entrepreneur. As a leader, EQ helps you build an effective team that is committed to your mission. In your marketing, it allows you to connect with your audience, close sales, and build customer loyalty. This week, we’re going to look at how some of the most elite soldiers—the US Navy SEALs—in the world use emotional intelligence to accomplish their missions, and how you can use some of their principles to improve your EQ in business.
Why the Navy Seals Have Mastered EQ
Navy SEALs are the US Navy’s special ops force, and they’re the soldiers who are trusted with some of the hardest missions. They operate at sea, in the air, and on land in some of the roughest environments in the world. They go into dangerous situations and take on violent enemies to execute high-stakes objectives.
SEALs get intense training to be able to operate the way that they do. But it’s not just combat skills they learn. They’re trained to have amazing emotional intelligence so they can stay calm and clear-minded under pressure. For SEALs, EQ isn’t optional. Their lives literally depend on it. So, they’ve figured out how to master EQ so they can control their own emotions, understand their enemy, and follow through on their missions no matter what challenges come their way.
Improve your EQ like a Navy SEAL
One of the principles that SEALs use to sharpen their EQ is the ‘4 Laws of Combat.’ Those laws are:
- Cover and Move – SEAL teams are small, so they depend on teamwork to protect one another and follow through on their missions.
- Keep Things Simple – Instead of creating complicated plans, SEALs focus on clear and simple strategies that get the job done.
- Prioritize and Execute – High-risk missions mean there’s always a lot going on, so SEALs know how to focus on what matters most.
- Decentralized Command – Every SEAL on a team is an elite soldier, and their leadership trusts them to take extreme ownership for their responsibilities.
Retired Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink talks about how he’s taken these laws he used to use on military missions and applied them to the corporate world. As an entrepreneur, you can also use them to develop your emotional intelligence and move on the missions you have for your business and brand.
Using the 4 Laws of Combat for EQ in business
1. Cover and Move
You may not be going behind enemy lines to capture a target, but you and your team still need to be able to operate together as a unit. As a leader, you hire your team to support you and the goals you’ve set for your business. But it’s your job to support them too. Every member of your team should be working together and supporting each other so you can all move on the mission. It doesn’t matter how you feel about each other or the situation, the priority is making sure everyone has the support they need to get the job done.
‘Cover and move’ helps you develop your emotional intelligence because it requires you to balance your needs and the needs of your team. It teaches you how to think about the people around you without sacrificing yourself. You learn how to consider your team members and provide the support they need without slacking on your own responsibilities and ending up frustrated, burnt out, and overwhelmed.
But ‘cover and move’ only works if you step back and look at the big picture. Your team’s job is to cover each other in the day-to-day operations, but they’re counting on you to give them clear direction. Don’t forget to step back, assess your mission and objectives, so you can cover your team with the feedback and support they need to be successful at the mission you give them.
2. Keep Things Simple
Simplicity applies to every part of your business, from planning to problem-solving to communication. Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be complicated. This trips up a lot of entrepreneurs because they assume that they need to have the most complicated plan or strategy or that they need to make every communication sound fancy and technical. But it takes emotional intelligence to understand that simple is better.
Just because your problems or goals are big and complicated doesn’t mean your solutions have to be. Don’t overthink and overreact when you run into problems. You’ll just end up overwhelmed by how much is going on and focused on the wrong things.
It might feel like a contradiction (and a blow to your ego), but the best way to deal with big, complicated things is actually to keep things simple. Break big problems down into smaller ones and tackle them one at a time. Create clear and simple plans that give you the most direct path to your goals. And when you talk to your team and customers, don’t overdo it with jargon just to sound smart; keep things simple and clear so everyone understands you.
3. Prioritize and Execute
When you’re building and running a business, your to-do list is always going to be long. There will always be a lot of things you need to get done, plus the unexpected problems that will come up and need your attention. How do you make sure you get it all done without compromising your business? You prioritize and execute.
Of course, everything is going to feel important at first glance. But by developing your emotional intelligence, you’ll learn to recognize what needs your attention right away and what can wait. As a leader, you’ve got the job of assessing every task, goal, problem, and need your business has, figuring out what is most important, and then executing with your team in order of priority to get everything done.
There’s no room for emotional decision-making here. You can’t focus on something just because you’re personally attached to it. Your job is to keep your cool and stay focused on the overall mission and vision, so you know what to prioritize and how to execute.
4. Decentralized Command
You can’t be in control of everything in your business, and you shouldn’t try to be. You have to learn to let go and trust your team to handle the tasks you give them. In our blog post about building your winning team, we covered how important it is to have a strategy to continuously develop your team’s leadership skills. This way you can delegate with confidence.
This is what decentralized command is all about. When you practice decentralized command, you develop your emotional intelligence to recognize what really requires your attention, let go of the need to always be in control, and allow your team to operate in their zone of genius so you can operate in yours.
If you’ve hired the right people with the right skills and work ethic and you’ve given them the support they need to be leaders in their roles, they should be able to make the right moves even without your input. You should be able to step back and focus on your own to-do list instead of micromanaging every little detail.
You may not be an elite soldier but, as an entrepreneur, you share an important reality with Navy SEALs: you’ve got to face a lot of challenges to accomplish your mission. By practicing the 4 Laws of Combat in your business, you can develop your emotional intelligence, so you’ll be cool under pressure, laser-focused on your goals, and an effective leader for your team.
Want more tips for improving your EQ and becoming a better leader in your business? Make sure you follow the Law of Ambition team on Instagram for more tools and content to develop your leadership skills.