“Building a World Class Team!”

A few years ago, I attended a Leadership Conference at Duke University and was fortunate to hear a keynote address delivered by Duke’s Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski entitled “Building a World Class Team.” His message centered around his experiences 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. 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 – Now remember, he was dealing with a team consisting of professional NBA players, some of whom are earning up to $10 Million per year. Are there some egos involved here? Absolutely, yet, they have learned 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 & 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 Under-Performers – 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.

5.)    Teach Your Legacy to New Talent – We can all learn from others. Everyone’s experiences are valuable, so why not make it a point to teach the younger “players” in your organization? Why force others on your team to learn by making the same mistakes you’ve already experienced? Pass your experience on!

6.)    Create a Vision – Set Goals for your Team and tell them what’s in it for them. For Coach K, it was to win a Gold Medal for the United States. For you it might be to increase production per cow to a certain level or to reduce the average days open in your herd and shorten your calving interval. You decide. You might be surprised how interested your employees are in helping you reach your goals. A lot of people enjoy working for someone else. Thank goodness, because we need good employees. They simply want to be aware of what your vision is for the business, because they cannot help you achieve a goal you do not have…

7.)    Be Worthy to Win – Work hard and play by the rules, but play to win! When you do reach your objectives, be sure to share the success with your team. You probably could not have done it without them.

8.)    Use the Power of Words – When Coach K autographed his book for me, he stated, “Always believe in the ‘Power’ of ‘Words.’” This can be a word of encouragement or, as he shared in his book Beyond Basketball, it might be as simple as stating “I believe in you” when you are interacting with a teammate. Words can also be a powerful visualization tool for people. Be sure to use them wisely.

9.)    Have Passion! – Be excited about what you do. Whether you’re an owner, milker, herdsman or Cooperative Board Member, play your role to the fullest extent possible. My dictionary defines Passion as “Great enthusiasm.” Coach K described it as “… extreme emotion. When you are passionate, you always have your destination in sight and are not distracted by obstacles.” However you define passion, be sure to demonstrate it on a daily basis as part of your success routine. I am sure you will have no regrets!