Foxhole Test

I want to talk to you about winning… and losing.

See… before you know to win you have to know how to lose. 

You must know how to lose individually and you have to know how to lose collectively as a team. 

When I speak on building a culture worth fighting for I talk about one of the questions you need to ask yourself about the candidate during the interview process. It may surprise you.

It is not “can I win with this person?” We all know that is critical.

Here is the question… “Can I lose with this person?

Think about that as it pertains to collective grit. Can we endure together and will this person respond to a resilient leader who is going to confront reality in real time so adjustments can be made and adversity can be overcome?

You may be doing all the right things in your organization when it comes to building a powerful positive culture yet you still find you have people who are not all-in. 

That is frustrating and that is hard, and you spend a lot of time trying to figure out why that is and what you can do about it. 

Often, the answer lies with the leaders on the team and not in our heads which is why I want to share the Foxhole Test with you which was given to me by my good friend Bob Starkey at Texas A&M who picked it up from the great Don Meyer.

Foxhole Test

I first learned of the Foxhole concept growing up when I would hear my dad ask his team if they trusted each other. He would explain what a foxhole was and then ask them if they would trust each other in a foxhole. 

Later, when I played for him I learned the power of being able to answer yes to that question and unfortunately later in my playing and coaching career I would learn how debilitating it is when the answer is no.

Finding out who the team views as their leaders and who they trust, will prove a game-changer for you. Now, the results of this test may not surprise you in the least bit or they may shock you. 

Have each person on the team draw a circle that represents their foxhole. They write their name at the front of the foxhole. Then, they draw a line to their rear, their left, and their right. On each of those lines they write the names of teammates they would want in their foxhole if they were fighting a life or death battle. 

The position to their rear is worth three points and is awarded to their most trusted, courageous, and tough teammate. The position to their left is worth two points and is awarded to the second most trusted, courageous, and tough teammate, and the position to their right is the third teammate they would pick and is given a value of one point. 

The beauty of this test is that it cuts through the friendships, cliques, and is an incredibly true measure of what your people think of their teammates. This is a test that could be used for leadership teams as well… at any level. 

Don’t forget the question you need to be asking yourself as a leader. 

Am I doing the best I can with what we have, to become the best we are capable of becoming?

This was originally published as a weekly newsletter from Ed Molitor, with The Molitor Group. If you’d like to receive the weekly newsletter, follow this link to subscribe.


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