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Leader’s role in team’s success

Posted December. 30, 2019 08:05,   

Updated December. 30, 2019 08:05


The Navy SEALs are the U.S. Navy’s elite unit that was established in 1962. In order for a person to become a Navy SEAL, he or she has to successfully pass 18- to 24-month military training. Although the most qualified service-members of the U.S. Navy participate in the training, 70% to 80% of them give up half way through the training course due to the infamous intensity of the training. As an instructor of who singled out some 40 finalists of the trainees, I group them into seven-member teams, and allocate a rubber boat each. The teams run several kilometers on the beach with the boat, weighing more than 100 kilograms, on their heads, and row it in the sea. I ordered the teams to race, and ranked them, and found something very interesting. Team 2 of the six teams won in almost all competitions, displaying immaculate teamwork. On the other hand, Team 6 was almost always the underdog, and team members criticized each other and expressed anger.

I switched the leaders of Team 2 and Team 6, and something amazing happened: Team 6 became the winner in new competitions. Even I found it unbelievable but I found another interesting thing here. Team 2, which had ranked first, ranked second and thus remained competitive. The only thing that changed in Team 6 was the leader. This leader did not criticize team members, nor did he or she say that the team was in bad luck. Instead, the leader did not allow team members to keep low standards or make compromises. Setting high standards and bringing its members together, the leader enabled them to believe in victory.

Then, how Team 2 was able to rank second despite losing such a great leader? The team was already in strong teamwork through the previous leader. A good leader changes a team, whichever team he or she takes charge, and empowers the team to win. Even if the leader leaves, his or her impact remains instilled in the team members. There are no bad teams. There are just bad leaders.