Navy Seal

A Navy SEAL’s Tips for Being a More Effective Leader


You’ve just been hired into your dream position. You may have the qualifications, skills, and drive, but you don’t have the experience—and frankly you’re scared to death.

How do you join a new team and assert yourself as the leader even though you may not feel like one?

We got the inside scoop from Mark De Lisle, a former Navy SEAL, author of several books on the Navy SEAL workout regimen, and the current director of fitness at the National Institute of Health and Fitness in Midway, Utah.

“I remember when I was off the coast of Africa and the day of my first mission. I had gone through months of training in BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school), six months of advance training at my SEAL Team, 1-year of platoon training and my first mission has finally arrived.  Despite all of my training and the trust I had in my brothers, I experienced a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety. I was terrified I wouldn’t be the leader I wanted to be or the one I knew my team needed.

But I learned, that what builds character is what you do in these moments and how you deal with them. Trust your training and trust your brothers in arms. The success of the mission was built upon the preparation and hard work that led up to it. We had a saying, “The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in war,” says DeLise

“I rely on these five principles for finding the courage, strength and confidence to be a strong leader.”


1. Feeling fear is natural but allowing it to fester and overcome your ability to excel is the essence of SEAL training. When you can control your fears and doubt, it allows you to tap into personal reserves that you never would have discovered if you had succumbed to it.

2. Have a plan and a directive. Nothing will destroy a team’s confidence in their leader faster than if there is no direction or plan of attack. If that plan is not well thought out then the holes and gaps will be dissected like a frog in biology. We had to analyze our enemy or industry and then break it down by every angle possible from methods of insertion to required gear for our objective. Once we reached our objective we needed to maintain superiority through every scenario or circumstance. From success to failure, there had to be a backup plan for every situation. When you have a well thought out plan from every angle then your confidence no matter what you are thrown into will be off the charts.

3. Know your competition! Whatever industry, there will always be competition, trendsetters, movers and shakers. Where did they come from? How did they break into the industry? Trendsetters, thought leaders and influencers have tactics and methods that put them well ahead of their competition. If you take the time to try to figure out what your competition is doing to succeed, you can learn where your weaknesses are, and strive to correct them. Next, you do not have to do this alone. This is where your team comes into play.

4. Create the need for teamwork. You want to create teamwork? Do not be afraid to delve into each team member’s knowledge base and experience. A good officer in the SEAL team relies heavily on his Chief and enlisted men. Each teammate brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Do not be afraid to tap into your rookies. Every member needed to be counted on to bring everyone home.

5. Get into the trenches. If you want your team to respect and follow you, they need to have a leader that is respected and trusted. Are you willing to do whatever it takes for the success of the team? Be willing to take responsibility for your team no matter who is at fault. There is nothing worse than the fear of being thrown under the bus the first time something goes awry. You want to gain the respect of your team then be willing to take the bullet for them. Get into the trenches and let your team know that you have their back.

Remember: Great leaders value their abilities and display the results of their accomplishments through their team. Your greatest legacy as a real leader is the ability to check your ego at the door for the long-term good of the team.