No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Let Your Team Set the Standards

I once heard an outstanding talk by Mike Krzyzewski, legendary men's basketball coach at Duke University. Krzyzewski also coached a couple of men's basketball teams for the Olympics. He talked about getting all those superior athletes, the leaders of their own teams, to play as a team and accept roles that sometimes were relatively minor.

His technique? At the very first meeting, he asked the whole team, "What are our rules?" And they'd hash out expectations for practices, attending meetings, being on time, behavior during free time. All the rules a team has to have.

The magic here, Coach K says, is that the team decides, and then the team has ownership and the team holds each other accountable. "Hey, look, guys. We all agreed that if we're going to meet our goal of Olympic gold, this is what we have to do." Krzyzewski rarely had to say anything.

I've tried this on a couple of different teams, not always successfully. If you have anyone in your group who's prone to skate, who just wants to do the minimum to get by, this will lead to a lot of conflict. But when all of your team members want to grow and achieve, it works like a dream. And it takes the ego out of things, because rather than following you they're keeping standards they set themselves.

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