Navy SEAL Rear Admiral Shares Team Strategies

Posted on July 15, 2016 by Tom Halligan - Also by this author

Scott Moore, retired U.S. Navy SEAL Rear Admiral, delivered the keynote address at this year’s annual LCT Leadership Summit in Miami Beach.
Scott Moore, retired U.S. Navy SEAL Rear Admiral, delivered the keynote address at this year’s annual LCT Leadership Summit in Miami Beach.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Following a 30-year career as a U.S. Navy SEAL, retired Rear Admiral Scott Moore told attendees about how he builds teams with purpose and clear vision during his keynote address May 23 during the annual LCT Leadership Summit.

“The team is more important than the individual,” said Moore, who closed out his career as the number two leader in the SEAL organization. His message focused on how operators can create a “never give up” organizational culture that focuses on the team to ensure success. “The secret to SEAL training is simple. You just don’t ever give up.”

Moore, who led the military’s elite forces through more than 2,000 global extreme and high-stakes missions, told operators there is no such thing as a natural born leader. 

“You have to lead from the front to have influence over people and be respected as a leader,” he said. “You have to be able to listen and take advice and mentor others to become leaders.”

Moore’s career spanned some of the marquee missions in recent U.S. history, such as Just Cause (Panama), Bosnia, and post-9-11 missions in Afghanistan. He commanded several critical “no-fail” hostage rescue situations, including the mission to save Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, which was depicted in the acclaimed movie starring actor Tom Hanks.

Moore stressed in order for a SEAL team to be effective in carrying out missions, there must be a culture of trust and transparency. “Trust in each other builds team cohesiveness and that builds a culture that drives people to come to work. You have to build an organizational partnership at the ground level because everybody needs to trust each other to do their job, and that builds a culture of success,” he advised.

Delivering his address with tales from covert missions and how SEAL teams reacted to situations and unforeseen circumstances, Moore said leadership means instilling “urgency from the top down and bottom up — and that drives performance.”

The art of leadership is empowering an organization’s ground-level employees to drive solutions and results, Moore said. He focused on how operators need to tailor leadership to different groups within the company to build cohesive teams and develop real trust to achieve an organization that drives performance.

Noting military leadership changes every two years no matter what branch of service, Moore said every two years you have to rebuild the culture to achieve a team mentality. “Every two years it’s crawl, walk, run to build the team to maximum performance,” he said, pointing out how operators must continually build the team-centric culture as employees come and go over the years.

When SEAL teams periodically deploy on “no-fail” missions involving hostage rescues, such situations not only require precise tactical preparation and execution, but complete trust of the team working together toward its goal. “You may only have a minute to save the hostage and the bad guys are usually tipped off you are coming, but you know your team is trained to complete the mission and that’s what leadership is all about.”

During his career, Moore served as the director of counter-terrorism at the National Security Council and the deputy director for special operations at the Pentagon. There he reported to Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Moore also spent a year as the deputy commander at the Office of Defense Representative Pakistan, where he was one of the senior officers working with the Pakistani military. 

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