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There are no bad teams…

  /  There are no bad teams…

There are no bad teams…

No bad teams… only bad leaders

In their excellent book Extreme Ownership, Jocko Wilink and Leif Babin share the following story…

When Leif spent time teaching the junior officer leadership training course for the US Navy SEALS he would often fill in as the Officer in Charge during Hell Week. During Hell Week, the students are divided into seven-man boat crews and spend much of their time performing all kinds of competitions against the other crews. It pays to be a winner!

During one particular Hell Week, the instructors were noticing that one of the crews was consistently winning every race while another was consistently losing. The losing crew started to fall apart. The leader was blaming the crew members. The crew members were blaming each other. Bickering ensued. Nobody, including the leader, believed they could win.

The instructors discussed this and decided to try an experiment. They swapped the two leaders, sending the winning crew’s leader to the losing crew and vice versa. And guess what happened? Under new leadership, the losing crew consecutively won the next few races.

The crew that had been previously winning was however hot on their tails in every race. What does this tell us?

The leader with the driven mentality had the ability to unify, sell a vision and create a system to quickly build a winning team. The boat crew that had previously been winning and was assigned the leader with the defeated mentality still came in second in every race. Why? Because their previous leader had built a great team culture and that culture continued, even with a change of leadership. That is the ultimate sign of a good leader – there was no ego in the leadership, it wasn’t about the “good leader” – it was about raising the standards of the team.

Taking Ownership

  • Own everything in your sphere of influence
  • Keep an eye on the man in the mirror
  • Loyal to the team and the mission
  • Take Total Responsibility


Thinking about your own experiences of leadership, either leading or being led – when have you seen leaders passing the blame or when have you seen them taking greater responsibility for issues? How did those situations make you feel? How did they change your future behaviour?

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