When a Navy SEAL Chief senses his platoon has some unsaid stuff between ’em, he grabs a van and takes them for a drive up Highway One. Once they’re cruising the pacific highway he turns his head and mutters two words – “van fight.” Yes, he tells the team to get their aggressions out. Nobody hits him or the van driver. You see the Chief understands that when teams have unsaid stuff between ’em it gets swept under the rug and swept under the rug some more. Eventually there’s so much stuff under the rug that it looks like there’s an elephant in the room.
Elephants, you see, don’t belong in the boardroom; but they’re there. Virtuous leaders understand these elephants won’t go away by simply ignoring them or attempting to work around them. The elephant in the room is eliminated slowly, the same way it got there in the first place. Yesterday, during a couple team practices with a couple really nice teams, I kinda started a quasi van fight of sorts. Of course no real punches were thrown. We did, however, uncover a few issues we’ve been burying for quite some time. Progress was made. These teams are learning to fight for performance instead of fighting to prove their point. Big diff.
Trust, it turns out, is built more sustainably through shooting elephants, getting comfortable being uncomfortable, and role playing what everybody is afraid to say, than it is by studying principle and precept. Deep trust that leads to real unity has to be fought for. Next practice, don’t tell anybody, I’m thinking about starting another van fight.
What kinda tension, leader, are you allowing your team to sweep under the rug? Stop sweeping. Start a virtuous van fight for performance. Good..