5 Business Lessons from the Israeli Air Force

On a recent 710 WOR “Mind Your Business” broadcast, Yitzchok Saftlas spoke with guest, Kobi Regev, Founder And CEO Of The Squadron.

Throughout the interview, Regev shared his insights on how he applies the skills and lessons he learned leading a squadron of F-16 pilots in the Israeli Air Force to the corporate world.

Here are five key lessons that Regev highlighted during the interview:

  1. Work as a team

Teamwork is the foundation of everything in the Israeli Air Force. It offers an environment that encourages constant learning and teamwork. When you put on your flight suit, you immediately feel like you are part of the team. It lowers your ego and enables you to create a structure in which people feel comfortable communicating and learning from one another. Team building is an essential first step for any organization that wants to achieve excellence.

  1. Cultivate a strong culture

In order for an employee to remain happy in the workplace, and not experience burnout, they need to feel as though they are considered important within the company. They need to feel like they are part of something big. When an employee sees that their company is investing a lot of resources in them, it has a tremendous impact on their outlook. Much like in the Israeli Air Force, a strong company culture provides tools for employes to become better versions of themselves.

  1. Strive for continuous improvement

To always strive for excellence is one of the most important things you learn in the Israeli Air Force. Excellence needs to be what is constantly driving and motivating us to be better. If your company is good, you must strive to be very good. If your company is very good, you must strive to be excellent.  This pursuit of excellence will drive passion within you and your team. Just remember that everyone has their own skills and areas that they need to improve on. The key is for you and your employees not to get caught up comparing yourselves to each other, but to instead strive to become better versions of yourselves.

  1. Always debrief

One of the most valuable practices one can take away from the Israeli Air Force is regularly debriefing. Debriefing is a process of analyzing one’s performance after every mission or task, identifying what went well and what went wrong, and drawing lessons for improvement. When we began building a new site for The Squadron in Israel, every morning we held a short 5–10-minute debriefing session for the construction workers. At first, they told me, “Kobi, you’re crazy. What are we doing? We’re not used to working this way.” After two weeks, they wouldn’t start the day without a debriefing session. This is the only way that you can create such a complex and incredible project on time and on budget. It also helps ensure that your team knows that it’s ok to make a mistake, as long as it plays a part in the learning process and the drive to become better and better.

  1. Keep moving forward

When you’re flying an F-16 at 600 knots and 300 meters per second, it doesn’t stop. You’re continuously flying, and you’ll have to make quick, dynamic decisions. You have to be ready to change the plan at any moment. You have to be reactive and robust. This is also how I see businesses today, especially when the markets are unstable. Everything is dynamic. This is exactly how businesses should run. It can never stop. It can always be better. Just like an F-16, if you are not moving forward, your business will decline.

Conclusion

When I commanded an F-16 squadron for the Israeli Air Force, people would always ask me, “Kobi, what do you think makes the Israeli Air Force one of the leading air forces in the world?” I would always respond, “it’s not the technology or the aircrafts. It’s the people. The people are what make the difference. And what makes the people excellent is the environment and culture that they are living in.” The Israeli Air Force doesn’t do everything perfectly. But what they do very well is to take their human resources and elevate them. Everything depends on how you work as a team, strive for improvement, overcome failure, lead, plan, and execute. This is exactly what makes the Israeli Air Force One of the best. I founded The Squadron because I realized that we could instill those same lessons into corporate environments. There are a lot of similarities between commanding an F-16 squadron and managing a business.

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