5 lessons from a Black Cat Commando to build an Alpha Team

5 lessons from a Black Cat Commando to build an Alpha Team

Posted by P. Charitha on September 4th 2017

By Maj Sunil Shetty (SM) Retd, former Black Cat Commando and founder & CEO of AskMentor.
"To bind a team together, grind the team together", says a former Black Cat Commando Lt Col Rakesh Krishnan who recently retired from the National Security Guard (NSG) who is about to launch his own start-up called Askmentor.This is built as a platform to facilitate networking between mentors and mentees. It is a professional social network that matches entrepreneurs to the advisors and resources thereby increasing the odds of success. The platform believes mentorship is a key ingredient in the path towards success in one's personal and professional lives. 
So can the former commando - apply learnings from the elite forces to his start-up? 
"Yes!" says Krishnan and further explains - for any business to be successful - you need a motivated and cohesive team. And, to form a good team takes time, effort and innovative ways of bonding- and the Special Forces are the master at the craft of team building.
He further explains an "organisation is a group of people with a common cause. Hence all who can work with others and complement each other is the key for selection and for excellence."
So, given the limited resource, how can start-ups build an Alpha Team? He lists out five ways the Black Cat commandos build their teams.

1. Grind together
He says, be it success or failure the black cats are in it together. Irrespective of the rank; If an operation or a training program requires' the team to swim or walk through a sewage- they do it- together! Similar, spirit of togetherness should be inculcated by start-ups, as, this helps build a sense of oneness among team members.

2. Surprise competition & instant rewards
To develop muscle memory in a person; you have to repeat a motion or action approximately 3500 times. Similarly, the Black Cats spend numerous hours training and honing their skills.To keep his commandos motivated for the long haul, he would organise surprise competitions. And, the winner would be given instant cash rewards. Thus, he advises founders' to devise challenges that can help speed up or improve the overall performance a start-up. But while doing that, back up competitions with instant awards.

3. Reprimand but don't sideline
When you are dealing with people from diverse backgrounds and each carrying some sort of emotional and personal baggage- as a leader you have to understand that people do - Snap!
According to the former Commando, at such times, don't reprimand people in public and having "punished him then don't sideline him" because then it amounts to being punished twice for the same mistake. An experienced manager will agree; when you sideline people - it creates an adverse impact on the individual and by extension his or her team.
4. Customise hiring process
Ideally, a team should be built around highly motivated individuals. The members of the Black Cat commandos are volunteers from across the armed and paramilitary forces.
This highly motivated force is picked after an intense screening process.Only a small percentage of those who volunteer-make to the final list, explains, Lt Col Krishnan. Start-ups too should design a customised selection procedure that is in sync with their requirements.They can seek professional help both for drawing up a process or for screening a candidate.
5. Climb down from a high chair
It is a standard practice among the armed forces personnel to connect at social events such as "Barakhanna"- loosely called the grand dinner. In both cases, the aim is to build bridges among staff. "You want people to let their hair down," says, the former Black Cat.
However, his advice to managers is to climb down from their high chair at social events. When you connect with your team at their level - only then you will get a glimpse of their worries, fears, bias and source of happiness. Team building is a long drawn process that begins at the time of recruitment. Leaders have to innovate ways to build a motivated and cohesive team. Source Money Control.com


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