Tag: team building


The Single Most Important Question Your Team Should Answer

teamworkI am currently sponsoring a project with 10 team members in 6 global office locations, 5 divisions, and 4 time zones. Enough to make your head spin, right? I also just recently joined a newly formed Advisory Council for a non-profit. We held our first meeting last week, and it is an exciting time as we define our vision and goals for the group.

Both of these current projects have reminded me of a valuable lesson I learned from Duke University’s Coach Krzyzewski (“Coach K”) at this year’s Leadercast event. Whether you’re working with a team of 3, 10, 20, or more, all local or dispersed around the globe, it’s important for the team to answer this vital question in order to be successful:

How are we going to live?

It’s kind of like the rules of the road – pass in the left lane, stop at red, don’t text, so on and so forth. The same rules of thumb need to be identified by any team working collectively to achieve a common goal (project team, product team, department, committee, etc.).

Below are a few questions your team should ask itself early on to define your own “rules of the road”.


Why does your team exist and what specific objectives do you need to accomplish?


How will you communicate with each other? What tools will you use? Consider things such as frequency, times, and locations of meetings; online collaboration tools such as Google Docs and/or social platforms; email distributions, etc.

Roles and Responsibilities

What is each individual team member expected to contribute to the achievement of your objectives? Is there a team lead, project manager, facilitator, note taker, etc.? Do you have sub-teams charged to drive specific initiatives? Most importantly – who brings the coffee and bagels and who organizes the celebratory happy hours?

Boundaries and Levels of Authority

What decision making powers does each member of the team have? Who can approve expenses, and up to what amounts?  What actions are team members empowered to take?

Relationships Outside of the Immediate Team

How will you work with other teams? Create Service Level Agreements where appropriate.

Standards/Code of Conduct

What behaviors does each team member expect from one another? Consider the following:

  • Participation/attendance (maybe you even define required attendance levels)
  • Sharing of duties – how flexible are your job roles? What is your overall philosophy toward helping each other out?
  • Challenge one another, but in a respectful way
  • Keep a positive attitude

One Final Note

When Coach K asked his U.S. Men’s Basketball Olympic Team how they wanted to live, they responded by saying, “always be on time to practice and always give it your all during practice.” In his past seven years as a Team U.S.A. coach, he’s never had anyone show up late and has never had a bad practice. Why? Because this rule was theirs. They owned it. They defined it. Therefore, they live it.

I encourage you to answer these questions with your fellow team members and document a charter for how you’re going to live.

Leadercast Take 2: The Trust Formula

TrustIn line with the Simply Lead theme to this year’s Leadercast event, let me continue this series by starting this post with a simple formula:

2 is better than 1 because 2 does it better than 1. Without trust, you only have 1.

One of the speakers at Leadercast was Mike Krzyzewsk – better known as “Coach K” – who has been the head coach of Duke University’s men’s basketball program since 1980. Coach K shared the above statement when talking about his experience coaching Team USA’s Olympic Basketball team, whom he led to gold medal victories in both the Beijing and London summer games.

London Olympics Basketball Men[Memes] LeBron James Memes Team USA Basketball Olympics2008 USA Men's Olympic Basketball

As you can imagine, Coach K had some “big” personalities to lead – Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony to name a few. The best-of-the-best from all across the United States, with each potentially having their own personal agenda.

Trust was a critical factor to their success – trust in Coach K to lead well and trust in each other to give their best on the court so that the entire team, and country, would claim the Gold. Without trust, they would not have been able to benefit from their collective strengths and contributions, as demonstrated by the simple Trust Formula infographic below.

How Can You Build Trust?

As a leader, what can you do to gain the trust of your team? Here are a few simple actions you can take to get started:

1.  Make eye contact and actively listen to your team members. Just these two things alone with go a long way.

2.  Always tell the truth, expect the truth, and stay true to your word. The trust lost after just one broken promise or little white lie could take months or even years to rebuild.

3.  Be transparent. Share information consistently, openly and in a timely manner, even if you can’t expose every last detail.

4.  Spend time in the trenches. Think Undercover Boss for this one. Frontline employees sometimes feel disconnected from the bigger picture, yet they are usually your subject matter experts and have incredibly valuable insights into your customers and solutions. Acknowledge and involve them as trusted partners to the organization’s success.

5.  Empower your team members. Demonstrate the trust you have in them to take an idea and run with it, and they will likely reciprocate that same level of trust back to you. No one likes being micro-managed.

6.  Give the credit to the team. Never take sole credit for something that went well – it’s never the result of just one person. Give credit where credit is due. Read the Core Chat post on 3 Ways to Make Recognition Meaningful.

How do you build trust amongst your team? Please share your thoughts and ideas below. Because after all,

We’re not a team because we work together. We’re a team because we trust each other ~ via @ValaAfshar #tchat

Be sure to subscribe to Core Chat and continue to follow the Leadercast series as I recap some of the key take-aways from this inspirational event!