A Special Incentive for Rapid Teamwork Pre-Orders

I am excited to announce that my next book, Rapid Teamwork, will officially launch on September 21st, 2015. For the many fans and followers and friends that I have had the pleasure of connecting with over the last few years, I wanted to offer you the opportunity to pre-order the book and receive a couple of great gifts for doing so. Rapid Teamwork tells the story of Greg Sharpe, a manager that readers can easily relate to. Greg’s team has been underachieving and struggling with a few issues.  What he and his executive team experience during an unusual rafting retreat is a lesson on how to become a more productive team quickly – creating a stronger, more unified workforce. And if you Pre-Order before SEPTEMBER 1st, and share a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, I would like to thank you by sharing a FREE copy of two of my other team leaderhip e-books.   Simply email me when your review is live to get these two special incentives: 1 – A copy of the 15 Day Team Challenge (a $9.99 value!) 2 – A copy of the eBook Sustaining Results (a $4.99 value!)   Rapid Teamwork is an entertaining story where you will discover the five ingredients that all GREAT teams have in common, and will take away tools and ideas to apply those same positive traits to their team culture and transform your stressed employees into truly invested owners. By applying the insights that Rapid Teamwork shares, you will:    – gain clarity about the specific steps for building a GREAT team    – discover the most neglected area of team leadership    –...

Keys to Retaining Your Team’s Top Talent

Today’s guest post is by Mike Figliuolo, co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (you can get your copy by clicking here).  (You can learn more about Mike and the book at the end of the post.) Here’s Mike: Erin joined your team about a year ago. She came in with many other candidates for a job opening and she impressed you in the interview. She was far and away the best candidate. You knew you would be lucky to get her to join your team. Since her first day of work, she has lived up to the high expectations she set in her interviews. She took over ownership for an important process on your team, and has not only mastered it quickly but she’s demonstrated the initiative to improve it. She reduced the time it takes to deliver her service while improving her output’s quality. Since she reduced the time she needs to complete the main job you hired her to do, she’s been identifying new projects she can take on to help the team. Erin is the first to offer to fill in when someone else is out of the office, as she views that as a great opportunity to learn about other business areas. You feed off of her enthusiasm and enjoy working with her. If everyone on your team was like Erin, you would have the most amazing team in the company. Erin is a joy to lead, but she presents you with a big leadership challenge. Her talent makes you realize she could move on to...

How to Motivate Your Team with Numbers

I was reminded of an important technique you can use to motivate your team while talking with my son about the basketball camp he attended this week. One of the things that makes him a good player is intrinsic motivation – he practices on his own because he just enjoys getting better.  He doesn’t do it because dad offers him milkshakes or other extrinsic rewards. Now, there is NOTHING WRONG with sharing rewards and celebrating individual or team performances… what gets rewarded often gets repeated… but if the external reward is the only motivation, study after study has shown that the effect will soon wear off and provide only diminishing returns. As many managers and leaders have learned, if you only focus on numbers and results you need, you often lose your people… but if you focus on your people, you often get the numbers and results you need! The motivational technique I am sharing today is something that applies to basketball, to business, to education, to medicine, and to virtually any industry where people can be inspired to give more effort and focus to their jobs. It is terrific to have high-performers who are intrinsically motivated… but there is an idea that will not only inspire your thoroughbreds to push themselves, but will also help to stimulate your average Joes and Jills to push themselves! You can motivate your team with numbers. At my son’s basketball camp, the staff had identified 6-8 different drills that were important to player improvement – and had the kids working on the drills for a set amount of time. Whether it was...

Assigned Seats Are Even More Effective Outside of Schools

Teachers have used assigned seats for decades to arrange and organize students in their classrooms, because it was convenient.  In my classroom, I used to assign seats and would switch up those assignments at different points during the year to allow students to interact and build relationships with people that they otherwise likely wouldn’t have talked with. But leaders in any field should find a way to assign seats to their people at meetings and events – and not just for organizational efficiency. Assigned seats can be a powerful positive catalyst for building relationships and creating cohesiveness among coworkers!  They provide a simple and fun way to build trust and awareness in your team. I used to pair up athletes with different partners to encourage competition – they would push teammates they weren’t as friendly with to go harder. And that was helpful. But one of the unintended but noticeable consequences of paring up different athletes for drills was that they talked to each other.  First only a little. Then a little more. So by the end of our season, they were more skilled, yes – but they were also far more aware of and friendly with each other. And it is the same way for coworkers as it is for athletes… When you have a lunch, or a meeting, they will naturally sit next to people they ALREADY know and are comfortable with – but THAT doesn’t help you build relationships across departments or between strangers. Connections are the most powerful thing you can build within a company – because you NEED your people to recognize and appreciate...

How to Build Accountability With a Team Character Draft

With the NFL draft approaching, millions of people are getting excited about the addition of talent to their team rosters.  Most people can see and appreciate talent – but great leaders know that talent alone is never sufficient.  Talent without character and trust – traits of great teammates – will always underachieve. So how do you build an appreciation of character and emphasize the importance of great teammates, while also creating a culture of accountability among your athletes? Well, even for a veteran coach that sounds like a tall order… but it really is possible. Early in your next season, after you have chosen you teams, I suggest that you take time off the field or away from the court to have a team character draft. This “draft” requires that you, as a coach, chose two players from your team that best represent the core values you want to emphasize – maturity, attitude, responsibility, etc. These two players MUST be your two most “high character” kids, and seniority or skill level should play no part in this selection. These two athletes will be your “Draft Captains” and THEY will be tasked with selecting teammates much like they might in a scrimmage game. Instead of picking their team based on skill, height or strength, though – they will choose the best available people based purely on “character”. Once every player is chosen in your team character draft, you as the coach will keep up with who is on which team – and will hold the teammates accountable for the actions of their members. Throughout your season, you will be able...

8 ways to get your team to listen (when you don’t have a whistle)

The truth is that whistles aren’t necessary. As a young coach, I thought I needed a whistle to get my players’ attention and ensure they were listening to me. Turns out, a few years into my coaching career I learned that it wasn’t the whistle that truly earned their attention.  Sure, it was disruptive and caused them to stop and look at me for a moment – but it wasn’t the reason they listened to me.  I eventually began to coach without a whistle – and my teams responded to my voice… but not just because I was their coach.  They listened because I built trust and was concerned with helping them succeed. Your people won’t REALLY be invested in listening to you because of your whistle or your title. Whistles and titles are only a crutch for inexperienced leaders, and they don’t inspire lasting attention or loyalty. If you want to earn their ears and ensure that what you have to say is really being heard and valued, there are 8 ways you can get your team to listen:   1 Stop dancing around the issue – be clear and get right to your point.  People appreciate directness.   2 Talk with them, not at them – don’t turn them away by being an angry preacher who just yells   3 Deliver it in a relevant way – say it so they know how it affects them and their values   4 Know what you are talking about – be informed and experienced enough to gain their confidence   5 Demonstrate your resolve – let your actions prove...

Would YOU do this for me?

Hello Managers and Team Leaders!  You have something I want… I just finished my most recent book, Rapid Teamwork (more info to come on that this summer!), and I am excited about beginning work on the next writing project to help people like you be more effective in leading their teams. What I want is your help with identifying which of the topics would be most beneficial to serving you and your current situation. So – I am asking a favor.  Would you take 2-3 minutes (that’s all, I promise!) to answer a TWO question online survey that will help me to focus on delivering content that is relevant and applicable to YOU?   That’s it – and here is a link to the survey – you’ll be done in a flash!   Thanks a bunch for your help with this…  I look forward to collecting the data and helping you enjoy more success leading your team!    As always, if ever I can be a resource for you, just let me know –  ...

Five Greatest Qualities of an Effective Event Facilitator

If you are searching for an effective event facilitator to help with any group productivity meeting, there are a number of things you should consider. A strong facilitator will discuss goals with the meeting planner and have a thorough understanding of the meeting’s purpose prior to his or her arrival.  It is vital that the facilitator understands expectations… He or she will also be skilled enough to create a feeling of safety and trust in order to foster more honest and productive communication throughout the event, and establish effective ground rules for productive feedback during the event. But as much as each of those items can impact your event, they are not the MOST important or the greatest qualities of an effective event facilitator. If you want to ensure the success of your leadership development or team building event, there are five specific things that an outstanding facilitator will do: 1 – Find ways to include all members Many team building facilitators will use the term “challenge by choice,” which means that participants can choose to include themselves or simply observe.  That is important, but even when people choose to observe early on in a program, a successful facilitator will find ways to involve them as well – either by asking for their input as an observer to provide insights on the activity, or by providing activities that are so enjoyable and relevant that people who at first hesitate to join the group eventually jump in and with both feet.  2 – Stimulate creativity and improved awareness People have two fears when it comes to group dynamics – the...

9 Spartan Race Lessons on Leadership and Teamwork

A few weeks ago I experienced my first Spartan Sprint. The “Sprint” is a 4-5 mile obstacle course race created by Joe De Sena, an entrepreneur and extreme endurance race enthusiast.  In 2012, Outside magazine designated it the “Best Obstacle Race,” and hundreds of thousands of people have participated in Spartan race events around the world. I figured it would be a fun experience for my family and I to share. So on the Saturday morning of the race, my wife and I, along with our three children (ages 16, 14, and 11) hopped in our SUV and made our way to the race site, prepared with a change of clothes and several towels.  We had seen pictures of mud-covered participants and had an idea what to expect, but the idea of something – and the experience itself – are truly two very different things. We arrived at the registration tent and got our bib envelopes – and it was my wife who noticed the red, bolded message that stated “There is a real possibility YOU MAY DIE …” Hundreds of participants gathered at the starting line every fifteen minutes to be sent out onto the course.  Eventually our Spartan Race time arrived, and we stood in a large group, nodded and shared a “good morning” or apprehensive comment with those around us, and when the horn went off we started to run. The course weaved through woods and hills and lots of Georgia red clay, while providing nearly 20 obstacles to navigate along the way. There were walls to climb that ranged from 5-8 feet high. There were...

“What Impresses a Coach” – A Letter to Athletes on Toughness

A LETTER TO ATHLETES ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TOUGHNESS:   “Dear Player: I am glad you have worked to build skills, and skills will serve you well when you are on the floor competing against other talented athletes… but it is not skill alone that separates successful achievers from the mediocre masses. The greatest divider of players in basketball, or in business, is toughness. If you were an office manager, it would be nice to have people with terrific skills – but if you had an employee who was very skilled and experienced, but who also whined and complained or was negative or didn’t work hard consistently, that employee would hold back your team’s success. Skills alone will impress very few people, actually. Smart leaders and teammates want someone who has the character and discipline and persistence to fight through difficulties and obstacles and unexpected delays and still find a way to get it done. And resilience is nothing more than saying to yourself in the midst of adversity that “I can handle it… I will figure it out.” There are very few problems in life that will not crumble under the pressure of your persistence and determination to overcome them.  Having skills is important, and is required to excel in any area – but it is not the thing that most impresses me. What impresses me is toughness and playing hard through adversity What impresses me is taking responsibility for mistakes instead of making excuses What impresses me is grit and resilience and perseverance What impresses me is talking loud and playing hard and encouraging teammates What impresses...