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How Can I Coach With Decentralized Command?

This covers the idea of using decentralized command in yur team coaching and leadership
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When You Coach To Share Leadership and Your Team Moves To The Shared Vision

I was first exposed to the idea of Decentralized Command when I read Extreme Ownership   by Jocko Wilink and Leif Babin- 2 Retired Navy Seals who honed their skills in the Battle Field of Ramadi in Iraq in the early part of the 21st Century.

They now are working with Corporate Teams and taking their message to the main stream in business. The idea of Decentralized Command was not what I pictured from two military guys but once they explained themselves and how the concept was incorporated in their Seal Teams and Platoons, it made perfect sense.

We talk about coaching here at Oars Forward.

What does a Coach do?

What does a Team Leader do?

I feel a coach is there to help team leaders develop their team from many different angles and attributes. The Team Leader is there to Lead his team. How many people can a team leader realistically lead and coach? By most accounts it is between 6 and 8 direct reports. If the team has more people than this, there needs to be a more decentralized command. This means pushing decision making into the hands of leaders within sub groups or teams. This may be a regional sales team, a divisional accounting team, a divisional client satisfaction team…the list can go on and on. The point here is that the team is broken up into more coach-able units in terms of size. These units are trained properly and coached toward the common goals and vision .

Shared Higher Purpose

Our company and team share a common Higher Purpose. This Higher Purpose drives the way we work with our customers, our internal teams and with each other on the team. The idea of collaboration is in-bedded in our team and we know that we succeed together and reach far greater heights than those we reach individually. Frankly, we go farther because we understand the common vision and the common strategy. Our communication is improved because we revisit our goals and higher purpose regularly…

  1. During our 1:1 meetings
  2. During our sales meetings both virtual and physical
  3. In our communication within our team and our company
People on our team understand the objectives and they make decisions every day toward that common goal and objectives. The territory managers do not need their regional managers to tell them what needs to be done and they execute on a daily basis. The regional managers have been trained and coached to lead their team members but know to let them go do their jobs and help them when they need to . It is about not micromanaging . It is being their to lead and coach your team when they need this guidance but also to step back and let them make decisions and grow within their territories and regions.  This is a balancing act to be sure. Sometimes, another fresh set of eyes can see areas in a team that need some shoring up. Areas where the leader is micromanaging or not leading and coaching where and when they should. It takes some finesse and maturity as a leader and coach to know what this balance looks like. This is why it is great to have mentors and coaches that can help you as a leader and coach to lead. They can help with this fresh set of eyes.


When we have the correct balance and we are leading and coaching with Decentralized Command, it helps us “look ahead and around instead of down” as  Jocko Willink said in an interview. Imagine how you can lead your team if you can be the visionary that your team needs to lead it. You get paid to coach your team, fulfill objectives …make your numbers but your main job, in my opinion is to insure that the team purpose and shared vision is communicated constantly to your team…to your company. This vision of the accomplishment of the goals and mission is the single most important concept to making the right decisions, to manage the team members thoughts and actions toward these goals and accomplish them because they also are congruent with their personal goals.  This is what a coach does….This is what a leader does. Decentralized Command is the manifestation of this communication and guidance.

Get that Checkup…

We can all use some coaching and some help in getting the right balance with the idea of Decentralized Command.  It doesn’t matter if you are a new team leader or a captain of industry with many years of experience, we can all benefit from a checkup from the neck up so to speak.

If you are a constant student like me, I hope you can check out more of our content on our Oars Forward Website.  We have Podcasts, Videos, An Online Course and an Ebook on Coaching.

Enjoy The Journey!

I believe that life is a journey and success in life is no different. Success is not a destination…it is part of the Journey-Your Journey!

I wish you Good Coaching and Great Leadership.


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