Knowing Your Team Builds Esprit de Corps

Esprit de Corps is a French term meaning “spirit of the body”1 or also spirit of the corps. Esprit de Corps is a good measure of unit or organizational morale, camaraderie, teamwork, and cohesiveness.

World War II Battle of Midway

In 1942, Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance assumed command of Task Force 16 prior to the Battle of Midway. His assignment was the result of Vice Admiral William F. Halsey suffering from a skin condition and being admitted to the hospital for treatment.

“One great advantage in making Spruance the stand-in commander, was that he was already familiar with the personnel in Task Force 16.”2 The leader’s familiarity with the team lends itself to building esprit de corps.

What Does Familiarity Breed?

You’ve probably heard the phrase, familiarity breeds contempt. Although that may occasionally be the case, it certainly is a pessimistic perspective.

I prefer to view familiarity from the standpoint that it breeds knowledge:

  • Knowledge of the skills, talents, and gifts of your team
  • Knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of your team
  • Knowledge of what your team can and cannot accomplish

The Great Advantage

The leader who takes the time to learn about the people on their team has a great advantage over the person who chooses to remain isolated from the people on the team. The advantages include:

  • Increased unity, team cohesion, and esprit de corps
  • Increased trust
  • Increased efficiency, effectiveness, proficiency, and professionalism

Does your unit and organization have esprit de corps?

How about you and your organization? Is esprit de corps alive and well or is it painfully absent? The Fire Officer Leadership Academy and the online companion course to my book The Furnace of Leadership Development, is a resource to help you and your organization develop your leadership skills and abilities. Follow this link to access the course for $147, The Furnace of Leadership Development Companion Course – Fire Officer Leadership Academy.

1Esprit de Corps_Morale_Force Preservation_Stallard_Gazzette_April 18.pdf (

2Craig L. Symons, The Battle of Midway, (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011), 190

©2023 Rick Davis. This content has not been generated using artificial intelligence.

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