Getting The Team to Perform When the Leader Is Not Around

The Debrief w/ Jocko and Dave Berke #8

The Debrief w/ Jocko and Dave Berke #8:

The team performs when the leader is there, but when the leader leaves, the team’s performance dips.

Jocko Willink (00:00):

This is the Jocko debrief podcast, episode eight, with Dave Burke and me Jocko Willink. And if you’re just tapping into this podcast for the first time, we have a leadership consulting company and we work with all kinds of different businesses and different leaders and we have an online line training platform. And what we do is solve problems through leadership and Dave and I often debrief situations or scenarios that are unfolding, and sometimes those conversations are good. So a while back we decided let’s just record some of these conversations as we debrief so we can share the knowledge with as many people as possible. So that’s what this is. This is a leadership podcast talking about how to solve problems through leadership. So with that Dave, let’s debrief.

Dave Berke (00:52):

Right on. Working with a company there’s a team leader that supports multiple projects, like a roving PM. So she has multiple teams that she’s responsible for and she moves around and spends a couple days on site with each and then will travel or go somewhere else to a different site. And when she’s with the team they do really well. She’s all in on the principles, she’s been teaching them, she listens to the podcast and she does understand them and she has done a really good job embracing them with her team. And when she’s with her team, when she’s on site on these projects, the team is awesome. They’re on time, they’re delivering. And what she’s discovered is when she’s gone and so she’s off to another project, that team their performance goes down and they slack off a little bit, but the revisit rate is enough that she keeps them on track, everything’s fine, but it’s clear in her mind now that when she’s not around leading the team directly, the team slacks off. So it’s, Hey, what do I do?

Dave Berke (01:59):

And as we were talking, there was a straightforward answer in my mind. The obvious answer that I had in my head, which was, well, listen, if you’re a team lead and your team is not delivering when you’re not around, put them in charge, give them ownership. And the straightforward thing was let them be the lead. You don’t need to be the PM. As a PM when you’re gone, they underperform. That actually isn’t helping them. So part of it was, Hey, you’re actually not applying the principles as well as you think if when you’re gone, they underperform. So we talked about looking for opportunities to put them in charge, looking for chances to have them be the lead so your presence there really isn’t as impactful as it has been.

Dave Berke (02:47):

But I wanted to dig a little deeper with her on this and have her think a little bit more too. And the first part, again, to me was obvious is that this is the idea of decentralized command. This idea of you can’t be everywhere all the time, you can’t be with all your teams all the time, so you can’t help them make decisions all the time on site and so you obviously need them to step up. You need to increase their decision making authority, you need to give them a bigger box, you need to give them better explanation of why they’re doing what they’re doing. And there’s a lot of things that we can do under the umbrella of decentralized command to help her team do better and flourish and lead better without her being there. But the other part of it I think that was really critical is we dug into this, what was missing is that one of the things that she needed to understand is that’s actually what was best for them, not what was best for her as a team leader, not even what was just best for the particular project or thing she was working on, it was what they needed.

Dave Berke (03:44):

And the issue with them underperforming in her absence was a concept that we talk about when we talk about decentralized command, is this idea of working yourself out of a job. When we are in charge and our team performs well when we’re around and it doesn’t perform quite as well when we’re not around, I think the natural tendency to think I’m the linchpin here, I’m the critical component, I’m the piece that’s making this happen.

Jocko Willink (04:17):

I’m awesome.

Dave Berke (04:18):

I’m awesome, yeah. And it’s something that is validating and it reinforces what you want, which is to be a good leader and to be the reason why your team is successful. But there’s a piece that was missing. And the piece that was missing is the recognition that it’s actually what your team needs is for you to not be that person. For you to be able to leave and have them not just deliver the same way, but maybe even outperform what you would do if you were here. This idea when we talk about working yourself out of a job-

Jocko Willink (04:54):

By the way, can I interject something?

Dave Berke (04:56):


Jocko Willink (04:58):

I just noticed a trend I’m starting to get and maybe it’s just I’m getting old and more honorary about things, but on the last podcast or the last debrief podcast that we did, I was saying that I didn’t like someone. So I just had that same reaction when someone comes to me and says, “The team, they just don’t do that well when I’m not around. I just don’t think they have the skills. I just don’t think they get it. But luckily I can go around and straighten them out.” When I hear that, I don’t like you. Why is that? Why is it? Because that is absolutely your ego talking and it is absolutely you stunting the growth of your subordinates and you don’t even know it, but you’re stunting your own growth too. Because as long as your team can’t operate without you, you have to operate with your team. So you’re not like you. You’re looking down and in instead of up and out, which is not what a leader should be doing. Does a leader have to look down and in sometimes? Absolutely. Should they be focused there most of the time? No. If they don’t look down and in, should the team go off the rails or even slightly off course? No, absolutely not. So it’s bad.

Dave Berke (06:14):

If you look at the two scenarios as a leader and scenario one is you’re there with your team and they perform and they’re awesome. When you’re gone, there’s a dip in that performance. And the other scenario is your team is so good that you being there is meaningless. They don’t get better or worse when you’re there, they are just awesome all the time with or without you and your absence doesn’t prevent them from doing a good job. Which scenario is actually better for you, for them and for the organization?

Jocko Willink (06:45):

And what’s crazy about that is every single person, every single person on planet earth will answer that book textbook correctly. Everyone will say, “Well, obviously it’s the team that can perform without me there.” Every single human will answer that question correctly and yet a vast, well, not a vast, but many of those people will be in that situation and they will cast out that correct answer in order to satisfy and gratify their own ego about feeling good and about feeling that the team just can’t do anything without me.

Dave Berke (07:24):

Yeah. And what’s crazy about that is in every organization, I’ve been a part of, if you as a leader get associated with every team you’re a part of performs that well without you, what do we do with those people in an organization that they’re so good at leading we don’t need them to show up on site anymore, that team’s got it. What do we do? Do we fire those people? “Hey, we don’t need you anymore. You did such a good job mentoring and developing and evolving your team that if you show up or not, it really doesn’t matter. They’re good to go.”

Jocko Willink (07:58):

Yeah. We don’t need you anymore. See you.

Dave Berke (07:58):

We don’t, yeah. Good bye.

Jocko Willink (08:00):

That does not happen.

Dave Berke (08:01):

It doesn’t happen. Those people are the people that get promoted, they get bigger responsibilities. They actually get the things that we all want. And if your ego is telling you as a leader, “You’re critical piece here, you are required for this to happen,” change the perspective a little bit. And look, there is nothing wrong with wanting to advance in an organization, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be an influential leader. Nothing. If you work yourself out of a job, you are never going to be without a job. Because what organizations across the world need is leaders that are that good. And there are always more problems and bigger problems and larger teams to lead. And it’s not to say that this should be in your own self-interest, that’s not why you’re doing this. But the irony in that is that if you are that good as a leader, you’ll never be without a job. Working yourself out of a job guarantees you that you will have a job because that leadership capacity is what teams will need more than anything.

Jocko Willink (08:55):

So here’s something that you said. You said there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get promoted inside of an organization, which is an understandable statement. I wrote about this in leadership strategy and tactics. When people say, “Oh, what’s the best way for me to get promoted?” The best way for me to get promoted is to not worry about promotion. The best way for me to get promoted is actually just to do an awesome job. That’s the best. Who am I going to promote? Jocko who says, “Hey boss, I just did this and it was all on me. And I definitely wanted to let you know that I did a great job and that the team, we did the project exactly how you wanted. I wanted to let you know that, and I will play the big role.: Or are they going to promote Dave who says, “Hey boss, we got it done. Let me know what else I can do for you. Oh, Hey, the team performed excellent. I barely even did anything, but because my team is so solid that I can just sit back. Let me know if you need anything else.”

Jocko Willink (09:52):

Oh wait a second, which one of those two people you going to promote? It’s so obvious. It’s so obvious but man, that ego is a bastard. That thing is so powerful that it will crush the obvious. Your ego is stronger than reality. Your ego is stronger than the reality of the situation.

Dave Berke (10:16):

And it’s crazy how-

Jocko Willink (10:17):

You like that one, don’t you?

Dave Berke (10:18):

Yeah, that’ll go down. It’s crazy to see how easy that is to see from the outside. And what I was thinking as I was having this conversation is something you talk about all the time is the difference between leadership and manipulation. And when you are doing something for your own best in interest versus when you’re doing something for the team’s best interest. And how it seems maybe a little bit subtle because some of the actions are the same. But from the outside, it is night and day. And you draw the distinction between those two is, Hey, do I want to be in a leadership role? Yes I do because I think I can best influence the team to make the team successful. Which in some ways you can see the similarities between the people who are out for themselves because they just want to be in charge. But if you change the viewpoint from yours to any other viewpoint, it is so easy to see. And ego is stronger than reality. To miss the reality that other people are seeing. They’re just seeing it in real time and that’s something we’re able to do and see it. And the thing that’s crazy about it, it’s not just us at Echelon Front that comes in and sees that. It’s helping them recognize their entire… Everybody else sees it. Everybody.

Jocko Willink (11:31):

Yeah. When you think that people don’t see your little maneuvers, you’re just wrong and you’re just so wrong. Everybody sees your little maneuvers. So did we get this problem solved? What was the resolution here?

Dave Berke (11:47):

Yeah. I mean most of these ones we’re talking about. Yeah. And this is a good leader. This is a leader who’s just struggling a little bit with some of the finer points and there was some components of decentralized command that needed to get better. And part of the reason why I was able to go that next level of granularity as opposed to saying, “Okay, you’re having a decentralized command problem,” was high level obvious answer or the ownership answer, is that there was genuine interest in wanting to figure out, Hey, what am I doing wrong? What am I missing? How do I help my team get better? And with that mindset and that attitude, it makes helping solve these problems a lot easier. And it was really just that. I think the piece that was missing is recognizing when your team gets more of that and they perform, that actually frees you up to do what you just described.

Dave Berke (12:36):

Most people don’t think their subordinates are going to come and say, “I’ve got more bandwidth for you. What do you need from me?” And you just explain that to us. “Hey, my teammate, it all happened. They’re good to go. As a matter of fact, I didn’t really do anything. I’ve got some white space on my calendar. What else…” How many times have you… Those are not common conversations. Those don’t happen all the time. And so it was the recognition that it’s in the best interest of you and in the best interest of your team, that’s I think all that was needed there in that relatively easy fix, but there’s more to it than just you need to use decentralized command.

Jocko Willink (13:10):

Right. So what was your pragmatic? What did you give for pragmatic solution to say, Hey, here’s what I want you to do.

Dave Berke (13:16):

Yeah. The solution to this one was, Hey, on each of those teams, she’s probably running four or five different projects simultaneously, on each of those teams you have one or two folks that are trusted agents that you could rely on them to do this. And she was able to name them immediately. I’m like, “Perfect. Have them develop what the plan’s going to be for the time that you’re not there, what some of those metrics are and let them lead the project and run those metrics to be able to deliver to you when you come back to brief you up to speed on where they’re going to be.” And it was just basically putting them in charge and letting them know what they’re going to do while she’s gone and what they’re going to brief you on. So when she comes back, the next week was, “Hey boss, these are the four things that you said we’re tracking in the three the days that you were gone. I’ll brief you on Friday afternoon at two o’clock when you get here.” Brief those and all three of those things were on track. And you know what she got to do? Cool.

Jocko Willink (14:05):

Look up and out?

Dave Berke (14:06):

Good work. Totally. So that was the pragmatic approach, which was identify the things that you see or the areas of weakness. Is someone there capable of leading and managing those and measuring those with the team in real time? And let them lead that team.

Jocko Willink (14:20):

Yeah. We wrote about in the dichotomy of leadership, big Walt, who was a dynamic seal chief, and he would just run stuff. And so during training operations, he would just run everything. And so what would we do? We would just kill him. We would just put him down, you’re down and he would get so mad, but then you’d get to see the team start to step up and lead. Because the thing is here, you become the crutch for your team. And that’s the thing I would say in a situation like that is, “Yeah, Hey Dave, I’m going to be gone. You come up with a plan. And then when you come up with a plan, when I show up, I’m not going to interfere with anything. I’m going to say looks good man, looks good. Keep rolling. I might ask you a couple questions just to get some facts that I might need, but I want to make it perfectly clear that you don’t need me and you don’t need to rely on me.”

Jocko Willink (15:10):

I was thinking about this. This is another thing I wrote about in, I think it’s in leadership strategy and tactics is I had this operational readiness exercise when I was at Seal Team too and it’s when you’re getting graded to see if you’re ready for deployment and it’s a big deal. And I put my junior E-5 as the patrol leader on that operation. And it was cool and everything, and he briefed it. And I talk about it in the book how the guy that was grading us was like, “Wait a second. You’re having your junior guy?” I said, “Yeah.” I said, “I have confidence in my guys. They know what they’re doing. They don’t need me to run everything.” Can you imagine what that seemed like to him?

Jocko Willink (15:52):

Did you even imagine? I didn’t even think until you just said that what it must have seemed like to him to have somebody who was getting graded. So this is how they’re going to prepare you or clear you to go on deployment. It’s also obviously your fitness report, your evaluation, obviously this is a time where it’s going to get looked at and people might say, “Hey, Jocko didn’t do very well in the operational readiness exercise.” So I’m looking at that going, yeah, I’m going to have my junior guy. A new guy is going to run this operation. I’m going to sit. I stood up. We were all prepared to give the patrol order, the PLO. We’re all in there. The full commander comes in who’s going to be grading us. So he comes in, we all stand at attention, attention on deck, sit down, everyone sits down. I stand up. I go, “Sir, thanks for coming here. At platoon, we’re good to go. Sir, the patrol leader for this operation is going to be petty officer second class so and so.” “Go ahead.” I sit down. Look on his face was like dang. So imagine that. Imagine how much confidence you have when your most junior guy is going to run the operation.

Dave Berke (17:07):

Yeah. How much loyalty did you create and how willing is petty officer second class, how much work and how hard is he going to work to make sure that there is zero chance he fails you? How much energy is he going to put into making that happen? And again, if you just see it from that and have somebody else tell the same story of the life that you’re living and go, this is what I did and see them go, oh my God, that’s what I should be doing.

Jocko Willink (17:34):

Yeah. By the way I stole that because that’s what Delta Charlie did to me. I don’t think he did it with an… Actually, I don’t know. He put us in charge of so much it was totally insane. He put us in charge of everything. So we got so much more experience because we were briefing, we were coming up with plans and then confidence from his chain of command from his boss was through the roof. That’s how you do it, man.

Dave Berke (18:01):

Well, just in case anybody’s wondering out there, everything I’ve ever done, I’ve stolen from some to include the things we’re doing right now, without a doubt.

Jocko Willink (18:13):

Check. Good. All right. Sounds like we got that one solved.

Dave Berke (18:16):


Jocko Willink (18:17):

What’s next?

Dave Berke (18:19):

Working with a company that started working with their executive leadership team. So their senior management chiefs and vice presidents, key leaders, working with them for a while. And they initially brought us in because they wanted us to just help deliver some of the principles to that team and help that team grow. And that team has done really well. And what they’ve been doing is they’re pushing down the things that they’re learning down to the next layers of leadership. And the next layer of leadership they’re working with is a mid-level management. It’s somewhere between them and the front lines. And that has gone pretty well. And what they’re seeing is one level down, now the frontline supervisors, the frontline leadership, there’s friction, there’s something going on. And they almost seen as it’s moving down, it’s stopping a little bit. The momentum that they’ve created and the movement through the organization hasn’t gone as fast as they like.

Dave Berke (19:19):

And they’re trying to figure out how do we break through to that next level. So we join them on a call to work through this particular problem. And again, as they’re describing and as thinking about it, there was this large obvious answer, which was, Hey, if you want them to take ownership, if you want them to start to embrace these principles and do the things that you’re doing, you have to give them ownership. You’ve got to give them the chance. You set the example, but you have to give them ownership. And of course, we know that’s right. But this crew that we’ve been working with is a really sharp crew. They understand what we’ve been doing. And there’s again, another level here. And as we started looking at what the issue was from their level to the next level, to that third level they’re trying to get through is as they were describing what some of these problems are, they couldn’t explain the problem quite as well as they could explain their own problems. “Hey, here’s the issues I was having with my management team.” But as I were describing the problem the management team’s having with the supervisory level, that next level down, they didn’t quite understand the problem, they couldn’t really diagnose what it was. Ops and maintenance working together, these schedulers on the frontline folks.

Dave Berke (20:32):

And what that allowed me to do is plagiarize you extensively and actually pull something we talked about on the podcast not too long ago, which was pulling down more detail in the principles that we were talking about. And actually what we talked about here was sometimes when we teach the principles, they’re almost viewed as cover move, as that’s what this… Cover move is its own thing, it’s its own element, it’s own entity. But actually inside a cover move, there’s smaller, more detailed components that are living inside of building relationships, working well as a team. And if you actually want to understand what the problem is at that level, where the friction is at that lower level, you have to know what their perspective is. You have to be able to see it through their eyes. And so what we talked about is the deeper piece of giving them ownership was actually before you can do that, you have to keep your ego in check, you have got to detach what’s going on. And the biggest thing is you have to see the issue through their eyes. You have to have that perspective. And there’s a lot more to cover move than just saying you want to have a good relationship with somebody and just building a strong relationship. Because the relationship on, on itself wasn’t the issue, it was the ability to understand what problem they were dealing with.

Dave Berke (21:55):

So we started talking about the impact of those three elements, those three little components inside of cover and move and how hard it is to have their perspective. And perspective of a supervisor who’s leading an individual team on site is they’re dealing with real time, immediate time restrictions. We have to go replace a filter on this app that’s out in the field. This has to be done today by two o’clock because at 2:05, we’re bringing in a whole new system that’s going to run through that filter that’s going infiltrate throughout the site, and that is a real time constraint. There is no sitting back for strategic. This has got to get done, this is a tactical thing right now. And the executive management team, the senior leadership team has been viewing a lot of these problems in these larger, broader lens and don’t really understand some of the issues and the frictions that they’re having. And they think that those problems really aren’t as significant as they are. They marginalize and downplay those time restrictions.

Dave Berke (22:54):

And the supervisor’s thinking, “Hey, all the stuff you’re talking about is great but if I don’t get this filter change right now, right now, I’m not going to be able to get all these other things done that affect your bottom line.” And the way that they’re getting that done is they’re being heavy handed in their leadership. They’re just making their people… “Hey, I don’t care what you think. Just go make this happen.” And there’s a gap in the perspective of the senior leadership and this frontline leadership and that gap in perspective has made a huge change in perspective of how to get them to understand how the principles still apply to them at their level.

Jocko Willink (23:30):

So when you say that they’ve got to get this filter changed by two o’clock, are you talking about it’s not a metaphor, it’s Hey, I know that you want me to sit through this leadership training class, but I’ve got to get this thing changed by two o’clock.

Dave Berke (23:46):

No. So to offer a little more fidelity. At our level, let’s say we’re down to the supervisor level where I’m now supervising the team that does physical work on site. You’re a scheduler, I’m an operations guy. Together, we’re supposed to build a plan that meets all the intent and I’ve got a work order for the day, I’ve got 13 different tasks I got to get done. You help me schedule it, I do the work. You’ve got insight in some other things I don’t quite necessarily know this filter fits affects this team, but I’ve got a work order. You and I are supposed to work together. We’re supposed to cover move. We’re supposed to build a relationship. You and I are supposed to have a good operating relationship so we can make these things happen. Our relationship at that level isn’t like that. You show up as a scheduler and you say, “You got to do this, this and this.” I say, “I can’t do this because I’ve got to do this and this.” And then what happens is you and I have this a whole bunch of friction and the senior leadership team is thinking, “Hey, you guys just need to build your relationship, improve your relationship, and that’s going to solve your problems.”

Dave Berke (24:41):

And we’re stuck with reality which is the only way for me to get the scheduler to see it my way is for me to arm wrestle you until to see who wins.

Jocko Willink (24:55):

Yeah. So here’s a pragmatic tactical solution to what you’re talking about. When I come to you Dave, and I say, “Hey, you need to go and dig this trench.” And you say, “I can’t because I’ve got to go change this filter.” My immediate thought should be, okay, Dave is right. Dave is legitimately right about what he’s saying right now. And he cannot go dig that trench because the filter has to get changed. So then my next thing is, “Okay, Dave. What time are you going to do that? And also what makes that a high priority for you?” Because what you might not know is that if we don’t dig that trench, we’re not going to get the footing in place so that we can bring the truck in that actually will deliver you the filter.

Jocko Willink (25:55):

So what is happening? Why aren’t we able to talk to each other and come to a conclusion that actually makes sense? So this means that the way that you do that, the pragmatic way that you do that, because sure it’s like Hey, I need to build a better relationship with Dave. Well, what does that mean? What it means, I go into the situation with the mindset of, Hey, you know what, if Dave gives me resistance, he’s got a reason for it. And I should actually listen to what he has to say and then try and figure out how we can come to a conclusion on that. A lot of times people don’t do that.

Jocko Willink (26:34):

And the other problem here is when you’ve got something that I don’t understand, that’s my fault that I don’t understand it, but more important it’s my fault that I haven’t created a culture where you will raise your hand and say, “Hey boss, we actually can’t do that and here’s why. And by the way boss, if you can lay out the priority so I understand why I’m doing what I’m doing, I might be able to support you because right now I’m trying to support this other objective that I heard about three days ago, which at the time was the biggest priority. So let’s talk.” I know that sounds crazy, right? It sounds crazy to think that if you and I have a conversation about what it is we need to get done, that we might be able to actually come to a resolution together that makes sense.

Dave Berke (27:31):

Yeah. It doesn’t sound crazy maybe because we’ve been doing it. But I understand what you’re saying. And actually the practical resolution that we applied to this, the thing that we did to help them take the principles you know that work and help them be functional is the manager and the supervisor that conversation and said, “Hey, what should I do?” I said, “Well, sit down with your supervisor and help prep him for the next meeting with the scheduler. And when the scheduler comes in with the schedule and the plan and the flow that he thinks that you should do, you know what I want your operations lead to do?” I said, “Say okay, we’ll do that. We’re going to do it your way. I want to get a better understanding of why your flow is the way it is. I need to better understand how the scheduling process works so let’s go with your plan.”

Dave Berke (28:19):

I said, “Look, if you identify something that is going to be catastrophic for the team, let us know.” But I said, “What’s the likelihood if you just did it the scheduler’s way, something catastrophic would happen?” He laughed as, “Well, nothing catastrophic is going to happen.” I’m like, “Cool, then just do it his way. Just say, okay, let’s do that.” And I said, “What do you think the scheduler’s going to say or do when your production guy says, yeah, we’ll do it your way?” And he also says, “He’s not going to know what’s to going on because all we’ve ever done is argued with each other and we’ve arm wrestled and fought over this and that.” I said, “So just do that. And don’t do it just to fold and to say fine, we’ll do whatever we want. Do it and say, let’s do it that way. And I’m going to pay attention to why we’re doing this because I want to understand your priorities as a scheduler better.”

Dave Berke (29:04):

I said, “And let’s just do that for a couple of weeks and see what happens.” And what happens is the most obvious thing is the scheduler no longer comes to that meeting waiting to fight. He doesn’t think what’s going to happen is you’re going to come in with your whole list of things and you’re going to go at it. He comes in expecting for the first time wow, I might not get as much resistance and guess what he’s going to be willing to do when you finally push back? And go, “Hey, can we swap task two and seven here? I’ve got this thing that’s getting delivered, but it’s not going to be until the afternoon and I can knock out three and four. Would you let me…” And he’ll say, “Actually, we can do that.” And it’s just cover move. It’s all it is. It’s just cover and move, it’s just relationships.

Dave Berke (29:42):

And it was the inability to understand at that level, what they’re dealing with, but what they’re dealing with is the same thing that the CEO is dealing with. And when you have your team walk into a relationship and say, sure, we can do it your way, and it has been like that. The outcome of that, and it was such an easy fix to apply but what was lacking is just the perspective of what they were dealing with. This scheduler is thinking if I don’t get this done at two, the whole thing falls apart. And the ops guy’s thinking if I don’t get this done at two, the whole thing falls apart.

Dave Berke (30:10):

In reality, nothing really falls apart. Maybe it’s not optimal, maybe it is. But for me to get to the outcome that I now know what optimal is, I can’t do it all by myself. I actually need you, you’re the scheduler. You can’t do it by yourself, you need me because I’m doing the work. And the best relationship we can have is that we’re working together and the best way to get that is for me to walk in and go, “Jocko, let’s just do it your way man. I’ve been resisting this the whole time. I don’t even know what your priorities are. Walk me through it. I’m going to bring my field team with me, we’re going to run through this whole day. Let’s just do this task for the next couple weeks and see how this plays out.”

Jocko Willink (30:39):

I wonder how many fights we’re over six and one and a half dozen the other. And how much time was spent arguing about six and one half dozen the other, when we could have actually accomplished three of the tasks for the day just making those things happen. I wonder how much things improve when we go in with a unified goal of doing things in the best possible order. Not my way or your way, but just in best possible order that supports our mission and what we’re trying to get done.

Dave Berke (31:07):

How often did the scheduler go back to tell his team, “Hey, how’d that meeting go?” “Same as it always is, a total nightmare.” And then came back the first time and go, “How that meeting go?” “Actually it went really well.” And on the production side, “Hey, how’d that meeting with the scheduler go?” Thinking he’s going to say it was a total nightmare and this is stupid. He came back and he was like, “Actually, it was really good. And we’re going to do this and that for these reasons.” And how quickly the rest of the team goes, “Oh, cool. That sounds awesome. Let’s just go do that.” And the ability to remove resistance by just letting someone else explain and show and do what they want to do long enough for them to return the favor and actually do the same with you to help you get to that optimal outcome. And it was the same thing that we do with everyone when we talk about it’s cover and move. It’s just what cover and move but having to figure out those little details of what is the real friction point there that you’re not seeing.

Jocko Willink (32:00):

If you think about what a disruptor ego can be to cover and move, you will find that it is the primary disruptor of cover and move. Because the last thing that I think I should have to is do these things in the order that Dave says. I’m the one that’s doing work. Who the hell does Dave to come here and tell me what order to do them in? There you go. You’re disrupted. Now we don’t have a good relationship. Now we’re fighting over something that is not worth fighting over. That’s why we talk about relationships all the time when it comes to covered and move. And how well do we form relationships if we let our ego get in the way? We don’t form good relationships. I got asked this the other day. “Hey, how did you form good relationships when you got to Ramadi and you’re working with the army in the Marine Corps?” “Oh, how do we form relationships with them? We went and said, Hey, what can we do to help you guys out? Not, Hey, I’m the Navy seal where you guys need to give us support. No. It’s Hey you guys, this is our capabilities. What can we do to help you out?”

Jocko Willink (33:12):

Subordinate your ego is the first step to forming a good relationship. Who wants to relationship with someone that’s just thinking about themselves? Who is that? Who is that person? That person doesn’t exist. Once again, let’s play the game. If I walk to the team leader and I say, “Hey, I’m Jocko. This is what I run and we’re going to rely on you and you better be there to back us up when we need it.” And then Dave walks in and goes, “Hey, this is what I run. Good to meet you. Here’s the capabilities that I have. Let me know how we can help you out.” Who are we going to have a relationship with? It’s so freaking obvious and yet day after day, week after week, year after year, we have to show people a reflection of themselves in the mirror and they get to see their ego and they get to realize that ego is an ugly thing.

Jocko Willink (34:13):

All right, we almost cut it under a half an hour. Good place to stop. And if you want to dig into these topics of leadership in any arena, you can join Dave and me and the rest of the Echelon Front team where what we do is solve problems through leadership. If you have questions, you can come there and actually ask me, you can actually ask Dave. We’re on there in this new virtual world, this new lockdown world, where everyone’s in front of their computer screen communicating with each other, we’re there. You can ask us. We also have a little bit deeper level of leadership guidance. We can give you inside organizations. We have a leadership consultancy. if you want us to come and work with your team, go and check that out. I’ve also written a bunch of books about leadership, extreme ownership, the dichotomy leadership, leadership strategy and tactics. You can check those out. Have some other podcasts where I talk. Jocko podcast is the main one. Jocko unraveling with Darryl Cooper, grounded with Echo Charles and the warrior kid podcast with the almighty uncle Jake. And if you want to support any of these podcasts, including this one, you can get some gear from or Thanks for listening to us as we debrief. Now go lead. This is Dave and Jocko out.

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