Break the rules, set some standards

Coach K speaks at the Empower conference in Chicago.

Coach K speaks at the Empower conference in Chicago.

I was at the Empower conference presented by CareerBuilder this week and had the amazing pleasure of hearing Coach Mike Krzyzewski, also known as Coach K, speak about the importance of obtaining great talent. Now, let’s get one thing out of the way – as some of you may know, I’m a very proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison so there’s no doubt I was rooting for the Badgers to take the men’s basketball championship this year. And, that’s exactly what it looked like was going to happen until Duke made a jaw-dropping comeback.

I’ve always been a Coach K fan even though I’m a Badger at heart but I became an even bigger fan after hearing him speak.

Ownership: You don’t work for something; you are something. – Coach K

He talked to us about how he recruited the best players to Duke, reminding us that hiring for character is just as important as hiring for talent or skill. One of the most important lessons I took away from Coach K’s presentation is that strong teams don’t have rules; they have standards that they agree to. Some of the standards that Coach K has set with his teams include:

  • No excuses.
  • Always be on time.
  • Always be honest and tell each other the truth.

This got me thinking about my own team and field of work and what type of standards I would set with my teams. So, I talked to them. Leading a training team, here are some standards I feel are important:

  • No excuses; always be on time; always be honest and tell each other the truth. Why wouldn’t I steal those from Coach K?
  • We don’t always have to be the best but we should always try to be. We strive to be even better every day.
  • Never stop thinking. If we stop thinking, we stop creating, innovating and improving.
  • Share our ideas and our knowledge. No one likes an information hog.
  • Be proactive about learning. Don’t wait for someone to teach us something but rather, seek opportunities to learn.
  • Hold each other accountable. Don’t be afraid to call each other out. It makes us better.

Developing standards for a team allows everyone to be on the same page, work towards a common goal and be accountable to each other. What standards would you add to this list for your team?

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