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A retired Navy SEAL commander of one of America's most decorated special ops teams reveals how to have difficult conversations for getting underperforming teams back on track

A retired Navy SEAL commander of one of America's most decorated special ops teams reveals how to have difficult conversations for getting underperforming teams back on track
Crystal Cox/Business Insider



Jocko Willink is a former Navy SEAL commander turned best-selling author, podcast host, and leadership consultant. His new book is "Leadership Strategy and Tactics."




Willink said that when you are confronting one of your reports about one of their failures, you must not admonish them and give them a demand, or else you will be creating tension that will lead to worse performance.




Instead, you need to acknowledge your own mistakes in the failed task with your team member, and work with them on a solution that involves both of you.




This article is part of our series C-Suite Insider, where we collect the best management lessons from executives and their coaches.




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It would be easy to mistake Jocko Willink as the type of executive coach who would bark orders as if he were in the battlefield, and tear down underperforming employees without mercy. He's the retired commander of US Navy SEAL Team 3 Task Unit Bruiser, the most highly decorated special operations unit that served in the Iraq War — and his war experiences still dictate how he sees team dynamics.
But he didn't excel as a leader by constantly making ultimatums and reprimanding his men.
In fact, his approach was quite the opposite. If you need to get a team member back on track, you do so in a way where you recognize your own mistakes in that person's failure, and clearly communicate how they can avoid repeating that setback. Otherwise, you're creating friction that will only lead to worse outcomes.
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