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Standards vs. Rules

This year at the Chick-fil-A LeaderCast, Coach Krzyzewski from Duke University made a presentation about his approach to leading some of the world’s best athletes – the US Olympic Team. If you don’t know about Coach “K,” he has more wins than any coach in Division 1 college basketball history.

Coach K told us about his first meeting with the team comprised of the following NBA superstars: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and more. Talk about a challenging team to lead! The question was never about talent; the question was whether they could learn to play together. This is a challenge many leaders face on a daily basis: Long on talent – short on team.
In their first meeting, he decided not to talk about offense and defense. Instead, he built the agenda around how the team was going to “live together.” The concept is one the coach learned as a cadet at West Point. Many of you will recognize this as a team norms exercise. Here’s how it played out for the Olympic team.
The coach told the team, “We’re not going to have any rules – we’re going to have standards.”  His belief is that people don’t own rules, but they will own standards.
He started the conversation by offering two standards:
Look each other in the eyes when you talk to them.
Always tell the truth.
He then explained why he felt these were important concepts – when combined, they build trust. He asked the team if they could support these two standards. They said yes. Then he opened the floor to see what others would like to add.
Jason Kidd was the first to speak. He suggested the team should be on time. He said to be late shows a lack of respect for your teammates. Everyone agreed – and throughout their time together, no one was ever late!
As the conversation continued, standards such as Be Aggressive and Be Smart surfaced. The team embraced these ideas as well. Then, Coach K offered another one: Never have a bad practice. They agreed.
Dwayne Wade was next, “We need to have each others’ back.” The team felt this was a good idea.
Kobe Bryant added, “Play great defense and rebound.” He was saying he was going to play good defense. The next day, in the team’s first practice, he never took a shot. He wanted to set an example.
As the meeting was about to adjourn, Lebron James was the last player to speak. He said, “No excuses. No complaining – we’re going to win the gold medal.”
The coach closed the meeting by affirming the work of the team. “If we embrace these standards, on August 24th we’ll get our gold medal.” And, they did.[GLS_Shield]
What standards has your team established?
 
 

Leave a comment



David Sparks

7 years ago

Love the idea of standards and not rules. It’s really challenged my perspective, especially as a parent.

Nathan Magnuson

7 years ago

I’m a Kansas fan, but loved this talk! “Two is better than one because two does it as one.”

John Reinagel

7 years ago

I really like how Coach laid the foundation with trust and then let the team build on it. What a great way to set the tone while creating ownership. Great article!

mark

7 years ago

Thanks, John for taking time to comment. I agree, what the coach did was huge for the team. Please call on me if I can serve you or your team in the future. Mark

Darren

7 years ago

Simply powerful! thank you for sharing. Such a simple process/discussion tool with such powerful results. Great leaders always build strong ownership. Good reminder, thank you.

mark

7 years ago

Darren, thanks for joining the conversation! Please call on me if I can serve you in the future. Mark

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