What Teams Can Learn from Breaking Bad, Part 2

Walt & Jesse, at their best, are one of the all-time great teams, a force to be reckoned with, and a delight to watch. At their worst, they're a Most Wanted poster for the worst team of all time.

I shared five lessons we can learn from them in my last post. Here are five more that didn't happen as often in Breaking Bad, but were beautiful when they did.

{Oh, and if you still think the series mainly teaches us what not to do on a team, stay tuned for one final post, What Walt & Jesse Could Learn from Great Teams.}

Just a reminder: there be spoilers ahead.

Lesson 6: Real teams believe in no half measures.

Toward the end of season three, Mike shows up on Walt's doorstep with a story of a wife-abuser that he could have taken out, but didn't. "No more half measures," he insists.

Whether it's Walt & Jesse, Mike & Gus, even Walt & Skyler, Breaking Bad's teams constantly take it to the next level. Doubling the order for Tuco. Building a state-of-the-art superlab. Laundering millions through a car wash. Taking out 10 inmates in three prisons in just under two minutes.

Hey, I didn't say these were wonderful goals, but these teams fired on all cylinders when they shared an aggressive goal that seemed impossible.

Just think what you could do with a legal (even humane) goal that's just as audacious!



Lesson 7: Great teams know success is hard.

There's nothing easy in the world of Breaking Bad. No one's trying to just stay afloat. No one ever says, "This will probably be a piece of cake!" or "Hey, watch this!"

You could certainly argue (and I will in the next post) that these characters are all out of whack when it comes to their work-life wholeness.

But when they show up for work, or for their marriage, for a tough problem, or for a goal of earning $737,000, they're realistic about how tough it's going to be. 

If you're part of a great team, you have a closet nearby where you keep your game faces, since you know you'll need them.


Lesson 8: Great teams focus on perfecting something together.

It was always clear to Walt & Jesse what success looked like for their product: purity. As close to 100% as they could get. Even when things turned blue.

Whether you sell a product, a service, your time, or an experience, it gets easier to be a great team when you know and own your critical qualities.

When your team knows that 'perfection' looks like relaxed clients, or blazing fast software, or a perfect sear on the filet, they'll take that quality and own it personally. 

What's your standard of perfection, the quality that your team knows & owns?



Lesson 9: Loyalty accepts no substitutes.

Skyler is loyal to her Walt for mile-long stretches of the series. So is Walt Jr. And Saul.

Mike and Gus, Hank and Gomez, Hank and Marie stick together like super glue.

Which makes it all the more painful when each of these teams splits wide open.

Learn from their pain. Loyalty is hard, but the consequences of abandoning it are even harder.


Lesson 10: Work because you love your work.

Ultimately, Walt and Jesse don't cook meth because they have to. Each of them loves a part of their work so much that it drives them. And those individual drives keep them working as a single team.

I'm reminded of a friend who pointed out the original meaning of the word passion(suffering; as in, passion week). "If that's what you mean by passion," he claimed, "that you'd be willing to suffer for something, that kind of passion can propel your career."

Where does your team get its drive? Know your fuel, and use it. Use it for good.


Every team has strengths like these: they don't show up all the time, but when they do, the day gets a whole lot more amazing.

What are your team's qualities? What's your fuel?

And what strengths did I miss that you learned from the Breaking Bad teams?


If your team is ready to start getting stronger, click here to schedule a free consultation.

Will Gray2 Comments