Stephen Varanko III on the Essential Leadership Qualities of a Navy SEAL

Stephen Varanko III has behind him a long list of academic, athletic, and business leadership accomplishments. The most impressive of these accomplishments according to Varanko himself is becoming a Navy SEAL. He understands from personal experience that undergoing Navy SEAL training takes hard work and dedication.

But that’s not all it takes; becoming a SEAL also requires a great deal of leadership skills. SEALs need to have guts, courage, and of course, the ability to serve as a leader. After taking on the immense challenges that come along with the Navy SEAL training, Varanko believes these leadership qualities to be essential for every successful SEAL.

Top-Notch Communication Skills

There is no such thing as a leader who lacks communication skills, and this is especially true when it comes to being a member of the SEAL community. Leading others requires a great deal of active communication. A leader is responsible for motivating, inspiring, and providing constructive criticism. In order for these things to happen, communication is a must.

Strong communication leads to positive outcomes; poor communication leads to negative outcomes. Negative outcomes in the Navy SEAL line of work could mean the difference between life or death. Not only does a SEAL need to possess strong communication skills, but he or she also needs to possess stellar listening skills. Communication is a two-way street, and the best military leaders fully understand this.

Passion for the Task at Hand 

If an individual is not passionate about a task, it is unlikely that he or she will be able to inspire a team. Leadership is all about inspiration – fueling the fire so to speak. And in order to fuel the fire that is necessary to achieve a task, feeling passionate about the task at hand is a must. A Navy SEAL that lacks passion when it comes to serving his or her country won’t be able to fuel the fire that is needed to inspire fellow SEALs.


A Navy SEAL leader is loyal to his or her country, to fellow team members, and to anyone else involved. The best SEAL leaders understand that loyalty is a reciprocal concept, just as is communication. The team members are expected to be loyal, but the loyalty on the leader’s part is also a must. True leadership means ensuring that the team members have access to resources and tools in order to successfully accomplish military tasks.

Ability to Work as a Team

Failing to delegate tasks is the most common mistake made by individuals holding leadership positions. Some people have the “I can do it all” mentality, but this is just foolish, especially for Navy SEALs. SEALs know that doing it all is never a good idea, and relying on other team members is a must.

Part of the reason that SEALs are required to undergo such an intense training period is to learn how to work as a team. It’s never about “I” or “me” for Navy SEALs, and instead, establishing a rock-solid team to accomplish tasks together is the way to go. So rather than attempting to do everything on your own, rely on your loyal team members to work together in order to get the job done.