A good deal of my time and effort is devoted to thinking about leadership and teams. It is always fun to find great examples of exceptional groups and to understand how they became that way. Lately I’ve been reading about pirates and how they organized themselves. At first that might seem odd, given that they were a bunch of thieves with their own self interest at heart. When it came to organizing though they were pretty smart. Before they set sail they took care of some important business on dry land.

First they usually picked a captain out of their own ranks to follow. This person made the command decisions in battle and while running from the legal authorities but at other times had no more vote than any other member of the crew.

Secondly they all agreed to and signed the Brethren of the Coast. This was a set standard of behaviors and the punishments for breaking the code. Typical codes included: No gambling with cards or dice for money, no striking another while aboard, no locks, no stealing or withholding any prize taken, keep your equipment clean and in good working order, every member of the crew to have an equal vote in affairs of the moment.

Third they agreed on compensation. It was typical for the captain to get six shares, and the other officers lesser, down to a ½ share for the cabin boy. They also agreed on insurance coverage should anyone be injured. This was usually broken down what each eye, hand, leg, finger were worth.

This was all agreed to before they set sail. Sounds like a group with a pretty clear idea of how to set up a good working team: A lot of input into the leadership and decisions, standards of behavior that had to be enforced (or there would have been a change in leadership), and insurance coverage in case you got hurt. At the time of the pirates (1600- 1900) no navy on earth had a better arrangement.

Author's Bio: 

Ted is the owner of OuttaHand EnterTrainment. He received his Doctorate in Education from The University of Vermont. Ted is a member of the National Speakers Association and has worked with a wide variety of clients from Fortune 500 Companies to non-profit organizations in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

He has trained groups in the areas of leadership and team skills since 1982.