March 20, 2020

A Navy SEAL’s Guide To Leading Through Adversity

Written by Tyler Moore

In an unprecedented time like this, companies and institutions need an effective leader to pull us through hard times. Former Navy SEAL and now RStor CoS Jason Torey provides some pointers from one leader to another in his blog

Over the last three months, an invisible enemy has reminded us of how fragile and deeply connected we are in this world.  Covid-19 has changed everything. We find ourselves in an increasingly ambiguous and highly-distributed environment. For me, the current situation is reminiscent of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I see tough decisions being made by leaders with the limited information available, knowing the plan will change ten times in two minutes requiring us to adapt to a new, elusive, and highly-mobile enemy. It is not easy fighting enemies while immersed in a distributed and changing environment with uncertain outcomes. But, regardless of these external factors creating great adversity, we were able to perform at the highest levels and succeed at our mission. As we navigate volatile and uncertain waters, here are some thoughts from one leader to another.

Keep It Simple

You set the tone and tempo for your team; calm begets calm. Provide clear guidance and intent at all times. Keep your communication plan sensible, secure, and redundant. Listen to your team to best inform your thinking and decision-making. Empower and distribute leadership; you cannot be everywhere at all times and must optimize decentralized decision-making. Utilize strategic-foresight to seek innovative and creative ways to increase individual and organizational performance.

Lean Into Adversity

Ask, “Is it working”?  Review the organization from the frontline leader to the C-suite and see if you are an agile, flexible, collaborative and highly mobile team ready to meet current and future challenges. Whether it is to accommodate the needs of the workforce, attract top talents regardless of location, or communicate with offices around the globe. Effective remote worker strategies have become an imperative for organizations in an increasingly complex world.


Lead with empathy; people are stressed and scared, be the light, not the shadow. At work or home, be a family by building a sense of connectedness as we share this adversity. Remember, what defines us as leaders is not how we start or finish, but how we are in the middle when it is darkest.

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