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Wisdom of the Bullfrog

Tap into ‘The Wisdom of the Bullfrog’ for Career Growth

Written by Sean M. Lyden on . Posted in .

Here are six lessons from a longtime Navy SEAL for becoming a more effective fleet leader.

As a fleet manager, you don’t just manage assets; you also lead people. And your career success hinges on how well your office staff, shop supervisors and technicians perform.

So, how can you become a more effective leader poised to move up the ranks in your company?

Check out Admiral William H. McRaven’s new book, “The Wisdom of the Bullfrog: Leadership Made Simple (But Not Easy).”

The title “Bullfrog” is given to the Navy SEAL who has served the longest on active duty. Admiral McRaven received this honor in 2011 when he took charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command.

During his 37 years as a Navy SEAL, Admiral McRaven dealt with every conceivable leadership challenge by commanding combat operations that included the capture of Saddam Hussein, the rescue of Captain Phillips and the raid for Osama bin Laden.

Here are six lessons with key quotes from “The Wisdom of the Bullfrog” to help you become a more influential and impactful leader in your fleet department.

Lesson 1: When in command, command.
Key quote: “As a leader you must always appear in command, even on those days when you struggle with the pressures of the job … As a leader you can’t have a bad day. You must never look beaten, no matter the circumstance. If you sulk, if you hang your head, if you whine or complain about the leaders above you or the followers below you, then you will lose the respect of your men and women, and the attitude of despair will spread like wildfire.”

When making decisions about fleet purchases, maintenance schedules or personnel, do so with authority and decisiveness. Even when things get challenging – whether it’s a budget crunch, vehicle downtime or staff issues – maintain a positive and confident demeanor. Your team looks to you for guidance, so your attitude will influence theirs.

Lesson 2: The only easy day was yesterday.
Key quote: “The words were a cautionary tale to every SEAL trainee. They said, ‘If you think the hard part is over, you’re mistaken.’ Tomorrow will be just as difficult as today, maybe more so. But the words carried great weight outside training as well. To me the words were a clarion call, a reminder that every day required my full effort. They reminded me that no day was going to be easy and that as a leader I must be prepared to give it my all. Every. Single. Day.”

There will always be new vehicles, technologies, regulations and challenges. Don’t expect things to get easier, but embrace each day as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. This mindset will help you adapt to changes, solve problems and lead your team more effectively.

Lesson 3: Run to the sound of guns.
Key quote: “When things go bad, that is the time for the leader to be aggressive, to move to where the problem is and address the crisis head-on.”

Vehicles break down, specification mistakes happen, and deadlines get missed. When issues arise, confront them head-on. Your team and boss will appreciate your directness and initiative.

Lesson 4: Troop the line.
Key quote: “In every command tour I had, trooping the line – those daily walks around the building, the base, or the camp – always yielded great insights into how well the organization was doing and how well I was leading.”

Regularly check in with your team, whether it’s the office staff, maintenance shop supervisors or technicians. This personal connection will give you a deeper understanding of your team, help you identify potential issues before they become big problems, and show your team that you care about them and their work.

Lesson 5: Expect what you inspect.
Key quote: “Inspections are not just about ensuring compliance; inspections force a level of discipline into the corporate system, and when discipline is applied, the rank and file know they are in an organization that cares about quality, that cares about results, that cares about hard work. No one loves to be inspected. But every professional appreciates knowing that someone above them cares about the details, because it is in the details that businesses succeed or fail.”

Regular inspections drive a sense of discipline and quality throughout your team. Examples might include spot-checking maintenance work, reviewing purchase orders or evaluating staff performance. When your team knows that quality and results matter to you, they’ll strive to meet those standards.

Lesson 6: Hope is not a strategy.
Key quote: “Never underestimate the power of hope. Hope is what inspires, hope is what encourages, hope is what empowers, and without hope, nothing worthwhile can be accomplished. But hope alone is wishful thinking. Pair hope with a sound strategy, a detailed plan, and a lot of hard work, and nothing is out of reach.”

Hope alone won’t reduce costs, improve efficiency or ensure safety. You need solid, realistic strategies to achieve those goals. So, invest the time to develop comprehensive plans for vehicle procurement, proactive maintenance, effective staff training, robust safety protocols and any other aspect of your job.