Last month I had the pleasure of talking with Brent Gleeson, the author of Taking Point: A Navy SEAL’s 10 Fail-Safe Principles of Leading Through Change. Not only is he a combat veteran, but Brent is a speaker, entrepreneur, author, and the founder and CEO of Taking Point Leadership
Enjoy this interview and your chance to learn more from this inspiring author, leadership, culture and engagement expert.
Here at DODReads, we focus on lifelong learning specifically through reading; what books had the most impact on you and your professional development?
The most impactful books I’ve read focused on business leadership and building great teams. My favorite is the book titled What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith. It is a book focused on personal and organizational transformation and the mental shift between the behaviors and mindsets that one currently has versus the behaviors and mindsets that one needs to develop further growth.
Stanley McChrystal with his book Team of Teams, and the follow-up book by Chris Fossle, One Mission are about the principles of building high-performance teams and moving from older structures and hierarchies to more agile models. Both General McChrystal and Chris are able to take these cutting-edge principles and along with the post 9/11 reality and apply them in pretty much any military or business setting.
Finally, I really liked two books by Jim Collins, Good to Great and Great by Choice. Those are researched based books on organizational transformation and growth and greatly assisted me while developing my companies.
General Amos talks about a 30-year-old body with a 5,000-year-old-mind. Can you give us an example or a story where reading helped you learn from someone else’s experience, and where you have been able to apply that knowledge to your day to day life?
When we’re talking about the 30-year-old body, or in my case the 41-year-old body, with a 5,000-year-old mind, we’re talking about the philosophy of being a lifelong learner. I’ve found that the most successful people are the ones who are able to navigate change and adversity confidently. They are able to navigate this change because they read constantly and are craving knowledge; whether it is books, white papers, articles or scholastic papers they are always reading as much as they possibly can and then acting on that information that they gathered.
It is also important that learners read both fiction and non-fiction because you get different perspectives on various things. One of my favorite authors is Steven Pressfield and his book Gates of Fire. These books give you a unique perspective and historical angle on the very similar challenges that the US Military is seeing today as were seen in 330BC.
How did your leadership philosophy develop for Taking Point Develop?
My leadership philosophy has been an ongoing process starting in High School, through college, onto the SEAL Teams, and into Grad School. What I found is the importance of leadership at all levels and taking ownership over your roll in the team and ensuring that you have a passionate connection to how you job function applies to the success of the mission. This is leadership regardless of rank, title or tenure, but a commitment to the mission and even taking responsibility for those things outside your job title. This type of leadership results in overlapping webs of performance and building teams which are greater than the sum of their parts.
In Taking Point you talk about mental Toughness. But I’m no Navy SEAL, I’m just a dad in the suburbs, why is mental toughness important to me?
Mental toughness, or really maintaining a positive mental attitude is not just important for those in the military, It is important for our personal lives, professional lives, being a parent, and being a spouse. It is about having a positive attitude and putting life’s challenges into perspective. Whether going through extreme SEAL training or the day to day work of being a dad in the suburbs it is about moving forward regardless of the challenge. It is about the strength to not listen to the voices in our heads telling us to quit, but rather focusing on our priorities and the goals we are trying to achieve.
What is your next big project?
My next big project is already underway. I am building a team around Taking Point Leadership. I sold my last company two years ago and set my 2017 goal of doubling my speaking engagements and writing my book Taking Point. I accomplished those goals, and am now building a team of consultants around the principles in Taking Point. We go into organizations and help them with leading change in organizational transformation such as restructuring, leadership development, and cultural aspects. We help these organizations bring together the three critical areas of leadership, strategy, and culture in such a way where each of those critical areas are able to leverage off one another in order to get better organizational results.
Where can someone see more of your work or purchase your book?
My book can be purchased at Amazon.com, my articles are published in Inc.com, and you can reach out to me through my website http://www.brentgleesonspeaker.com
Thank you, Brent, for this great interview!
Brent Gleeson is a Navy SEAL combat veteran with multiple tours to Iraq and Africa and other theaters of war. Upon leaving SEAL Team 5, Brent turned his discipline and battlefield lessons to the world of business and has become an accomplished entrepreneur, bestselling author, and acclaimed speaker on topics ranging from leadership and building high-performance teams to culture and organizational transformation. You can learn more about his leadership philosophies in his weekly columns on Inc.com and Forbes.com. He is the bestselling author of TakingPoint: A Navy SEAL’s 10 Fail Safe Principles for Leading Through Change, which was a #1 New Release in the categories of Organizational Change and Business Structural Adjustment.
Brent is the Founder and CEO of TakingPoint Leadership, a progressive leadership and management consulting firm with a focus on leadership development, business transformation, and building high-performance cultures. With degrees in finance and economics from Southern Methodist University, certificates in English and History from Oxford University in England and a graduate business degree from the University of San Diego, Gleeson’s extensive experience is both academic and real-world in nature. Gleeson has won awards for business leadership and was named one of the “Top 10 CEOs” in Entrepreneur Magazine’s October 2013 issue for his exemplary approach to building high-performance teams in business.