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  • Writer's pictureBennett Bratt

Navigating the Unknown with the Team You Deserve

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

This voyage will be difficult. Why not have the team you deserve?

CEOs and top team leaders often call me when they’re exhausted. Or lonely. As one said to me years ago, “I have a Board that chews me up and spits me out, and I have direct reports who seem oblivious to how much I need them to collaborate with me and for me. This is the loneliest job in the world.”

And what a world it is. The term VUCA (for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) was first used in 1985. We need to look no further than pandemics, terrorist attacks, wars, societal fragmentation, destabilizing technology, and bank failures to see a fraction of what contemporary leadership teams contend with daily.

If the Ship Goes Down…

As a US Navy veteran who spent some time on ships at sea, I learned that if a fire breaks out on the ship (or in the event of an attack), everyone has a role. No one is exempt. The fire is owned by everyone, although perhaps fought by a few. There is no fire department at sea. If this ship goes down, we all go with it.

It’s that deep sense of shared ownership and commitment to collaboration that too often is missing from teams inside our organizations. We ignore the smoke, even though the fire is real. We collude in distractions when existential crises beg for acknowledgment. We tell ourselves stories that if we as leaders simply appear relatable (read: more selfies!), that will be a good enough proxy for compelling team and organizational leadership.

A Question for You

This question often gives a team leader pause: What have you done to actively build the team you deserve? Your team is the crew closest to you that will actively navigate your VUCA heavy seas. How do you invest in their collective confidence, agility, and resilience?

Perhaps you’ve already removed a toxic team member; maybe not yet. Maybe you are like a “deer in the headlights,” stuck in a frozen posture.

But this idea - that you deserve to have a great team - feels indulgent until it feels wise. And once it feels wise, we sit up a little straighter and ask ourselves, “What would it take for me to build the leadership team I deserve?”


Assume people want good things for you. Your Board, your stakeholders, your employees, and even your family members want you to feel good. To be whole. To be capably equipped for the journey, no matter how hard it is. Believe in that good wish.

Build the team you deserve.

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