The Captain

Pivotal/Tanzu Labs


Sometimes it’s worth making unilateral decisions despite the tradeoffs, but this mode is considered a last resort.

In difficult situations, it may be necessary for someone to make an unpopular decision, despite Pivotal/Tanzu Labs’ long tradition of collective team ownership. This is a delicate line to walk, and requires care/skill in doing so. Once employed, this stance is difficult to reverse. Not all Captains are remembered for modeling good behavior. In our research, tales of Captain behavior usually got results, but indicated undesirable team dynamics and/or loss of trust, productivity, and morale.

The captain running a meeting


  • Make a decision for a team that cannot or will not move forward
  • Be willing to stand alone to do the right thing
  • Rally a divided team on a common goal


  • May make it difficult to challenge and change the decisions that were made
  • Observe for a while. You can be right and still be wrong
  • Consider co-ownership as an anchor pair as a way to alleviate the burden and get in front of problems


  • Being unnecessarily vocal can impose dominance and have negative consequences
  • Making unilateral decisions leaves you open to being the single point of failure
  • Anchor will need to teach the team to sustain their own buy-in
On This Page