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Building a World Class Team! – Part A

At a Leadership Conference at Duke University, I heard a keynote address given by Duke’s head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski entitled “Building a World Class Team.” His message centered around his experiences during 2005-2008 developing the USA Basketball Team that competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. He also outlined what he felt are the primary keys to positive leadership and sound teamwork.


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Perhaps, you will find these helpful as you develop your internal management team and build relationships with other professionals you work with. The attributes he described include:

  1. No Arrogance – He is dealing with a team consisting of professional NBA players, some earning up to $10 million per year. Are there some egos involved here? They have learned during the past three years to put the team first and themselves second. This is no small task, but it can be accomplished in your operation, too, by helping your management team to share your vision for success and put their individual egos behind your team’s progress.
  2. Collective Responsibility – simply stated, we win together and lose together. Is the loss of a game the responsibility of the player who missed the last second shot from 20 feet out? I don’t think so. Collectively, if we had played better throughout the entire game, maybe we would not have been under such pressure at the end. The same holds true for your business. When your milk flow is down, don’t blame the nutritionist. Maybe we should have watched the breeding program closer to ensure better heat detection and more pregnancies, resulting in more fresh cows.
  3. Work Together to Get Better – Remember, in a great team setting, I don’t lose if you win at whatever role you play. We both win! Life is not a “zero-sum” game. Rather it is the summation of a series of win-win situations wherein we grow. We need to work together to get better collectively.
  4. Confront Underperformers – there are so many examples in our society where we attempt to “equalize” everyone’s results, so we “feel better” about ourselves. I need not single out any sector or institution, because you already know what I’m talking about. As I said above, work together to get better & cultivate excellence.

In Part II, we will recap and continue with the final five points.