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This week, we're looking at Chapter 3: Fostering Chemistry, Core Values, and Trust
Below you can find the chapter in full. Enjoy!
Building a Better Team
Early July 2002: The Day of Reckoning for the 15 Blue Angel candidates who made it to the final round of interviews for the 2003 team. As I sat at my desk in the hangar that housed the Blue Angels’ F/A-18 Hornets, I prepared for the hardest part of being the Boss – turning down 10 amazing candidates.
Only five would survive.
After the interviews ended just one week before, the finalists had each flown to their home base and were to call me at a prescheduled time to find out if they made it.
Our team had been up almost all night the night before, deliberating. The decision was hard because our options were all so good. To be among the finalists is an honor in itself, as they represent the elite pilots, maintenance and supply officers, and flight surgeons from the Navy and Marine Corps. Some of them had been vying for the team for several years, and to be selected would have been the culmination of a lifelong dream.
So, as I prepared for the phone calls to come, I remember thinking what a privilege it is to be able to handpick our team from such a talented pool. I was essentially living every CEO’s dream – we were selecting the most technically proficient Relentless Innovators, who also had the personalities, values and character that would make it fun and rewarding to tackle the incredible challenges we would face over the next year.
We were going to succeed with style and have fun doing it.
Chemistry: Creating a “Family”
The deliberations during the selection process for both TOPGUN and the Blue Angels will always remain confidential. However, the results of the selection process are clear – we build an elite team whose members enjoy being together, even under the most stressful circumstances.
Elite teams require extensive time to focus on becoming the best, both technically and culturally. This is true across the board from sports teams to industry. It certainly is true at the Blue Angels and TOPGUN. You need people who can create and maintain a positive reinforcing chemistry within the team. They get excited about tackling tough challenges together.
The Blue Angels Diamond and Solo pilots are an extreme example. The six pilots spend almost every available hour of every day together from December through March. This is to just prepare for the show season.