Luux KING, PH.D.


Consider team building not as a feel-good, touchy-feely kind of issue, but as a way of differentiating yourself from your competition.

There was a study done a few years ago at the Sloan School of Management at MIT by Dean Lester Thurow. In this study, Thurow asked American CEOs who they thought was the second most important person in their company. The answer, routinely, was the chief financial officer. Thurow then went to Japan and asked the same question. The most common answer was the v.p. for human resources.

These are two very different ways of looking at your company, seeing where your resources are, and how you are going to use them strategically. The point is not to take on a V.P. for human resources if you do not have one. But, bring the activities that go into that function higher on your priority list as CEO of your company. In this way, you can do some interesting things in terms of competing and winning.


Two men were on a backpacking trip in the wilderness when they came upon the proverbial big Black Bear. One of the men threw his backpack down and started rummaging through it trying to find his running shoes. The other man exclaims, “What are you doing? You cannot possibly out-run that bear.” The man with his Nikes on replied, “That is true, but I do not have to out-run the bear – just you.”

The bear story really sets up this entire presentation. The notion of team building has become a little lofty and out of hand. Do not be concerned with building the best team ever known to humankind, but with putting together a group of people, getting them very focused and setting some industry standards. Working with your team, you can outrun the other guy. This presentation is designed to give you some tools with which to accomplish this.


The mission for this presentation is: “To have you commit to a process which will develop a focused, committed team of quality people who work together with intensity and creativity.”

Mark Twain said in a letter to a friend, “I would have written you a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.” If you spend any time on mission statements, you know how long it takes to get

Renew a deeper awareness of the value of work teams, by calling on the your experiences with work teams.

Profile what it was that made those teams special and create the characteristics of winning teams.

Use that profile to look at your current team and see what the strengths and limitations of that team are.

Assess your readiness to move in to a team-based approach to leadership.


Think about the issues going on in your company. For example, communication problems, introducing someone new into the company, or realignment problems. Come up with a short phrase describing a specific concern, opportunity or problem facing you and your team.


The following are the needs King has heard over the years in listening to TEC members and other CEOs:

• More time

• More money

• Increased quality

• Better morale

• More management depth

• Greater delegation

• Better planning

• Improved communication

• Personal challenge

INCREASED CREATIVITY: Share the burden of coming up with creative solutions with the other people on your management team.

In this very competitive world, the reality is that you are not smart enough to run your company alone. Take those people who have technical backgrounds and make them members of your problem-solving strategic planning team.

Let your people know that it is no longer good enough just to be a solid technical contributor to qualify as a member of your leadership team. They must come up with first-class solutions to the issues that you are facing. You should be concerned if you have not learned something significant from the key people on your team in the last six to nine months. You want people who are going to be teaching you something, as well as you teaching them. You do not want to be the source of all the knowledge on marketing, finance, engineering, distribution, warehousing, etc.

PERSONAL CHALLENGE: You also need people who are willing and able to step up, challenge and disagree with you on major issues. For this to happen, you have to be willing to create the environment where a messenger can deliver a message that disagrees with you without being shot.

MANAGEMENT DEPTH: In small and medium-sized companies, there is generally a man or woman at the top who is bright and capable. There are one or two “lieutenants” assisting them who are also very bright and capable – beyond that, there is a tremendous fall off of talent.

Think of your company on three levels:

1. You

2. The people who report to you (vice presidents, directors etc..)

3. Those who report to your v.p.’s (supervisors, directors, managers)

Make a real commitment over the next six months to a year to complete your staff of quality performers. That alone can make a major difference in both your company and your personal life. You need good people spread throughout your entire organization, not just one or two quality people toward the top.

Someone once said that everyone cannot be above average. That is true – you want the people who are not above average working for your competitors and the ones who are, working for you!

like because of the lack of talent in your organization: If you attempt to delegate, the work ends of coming back up to you.

MONEY AND TIME: Many of you are putting in 60-80 hours a week and it still does not feel like enough time to get the job done.


Considering these universal needs, what are the benefits that teams can produce?

Teams can produce quality, productivity, innovation and creativity by lowering costs, taking out all of the levels of supervision and allowing greater flexibility.

The most important thing teams can do is attract and retain quality people. Once you get that real sense of team in place, people will fight to work for your company because it capitalizes on the fundamental human need to be a part of something larger than ourselves. This is why families, tribes and communities are so important to us. You can draw on that need in a work setting as well, to great benefit to you and the company.

These benefits match up pretty well with the common CEO concerns. If this is the case, why aren’t there more teams in place?


You possess several characteristics that can get in the way of building teams:

IMPATIENCE: Your strong sense of urgency gets in the way of building a team because it is an investment which takes some time. Building teams is time-

consuming because it is really about changing a culture.

STRONG NEED FOR CONTROL: If all of the decisions in your company have to be made within five centimeters of your chest, it is a real barrier to building a team, because you have to delegate authority as well as responsibility.

LACK OF DELEGATION SKILLS: You may have never been taught these skills. If you want to better understand delegation, substitute another word for it – teaching. Delegation is not saying ‘take this project and get it done and I do not want to hear about it until it is done.’ That is first-class abdication.

creating road marks along the way so they will Know how they are acing. It also entails debriefing the employee when the project is over, talking about what worked and what didn’t and maybe giving some emotional support until they build their confidence. This is first-class delegation or teaching. This approach is very different from a command and control approach to leadership.

DISLIKE OF THE TEACHER ROLE: Teaching and coaching employees may not be your strong point.

GOOD AT TASK MANAGEMENT, POOR AT PROCESS MANAGEMENT: If given a list of the 12 things that are very important for your company, you could probably get them done in very little time. However, if you were in a small group setting such as a TEC group and were asked what was going on? Who is involved in the agenda? Who has ownership? Who is likely to be involved in implementation? etc…, it may not come so easily for you.

MORE COMFORTABLE WITH LOGIC THAN EMOTION: You do not have to be a junior psychologist to build teams. You do have to be willing and able to wade into emotions, especially positive emotions such as pride, satisfaction and commitment.

A RELUCTANCE TO INVEST IN HUMAN RESOURCES INSTEAD OF PLANT AND EQUIPMENT RESOURCES: There is something very human about us that makes it much easier for us to buy a nice, shiny piece of equipment, plug it in and watch it turn out some widgets than it is to pay for a training company, recruiter or consulting company to come in and work with our people. You need to break through that road block and commit to developing your people.

One strategy to make that commitment happen is to put a line item in your budget and call it “people development,” “team building,” or “human resources.” Every time you review your budget, look at that line and see how you are doing. Earmark perhaps one to three percent of your total payroll cost to this item – whatever makes sense for your industry. Come up with a strategic plan in terms of where you could spend these resources to make a real difference relative to the competition to help you out-run the guy who is not out-running the bear. If you do not spend anything in this area, you are not saving money, it is like deferred maintenance, which is not a great idea. Fight that reluctance to invest in your people.

If you scored high on the list of personal barriers – welcome home, this is where you belong. This is a description of the entrepreneurial, leadership personality. The impatience, strong need for control and other characteristics are the things that got you where you are.

If you took the laid back, take it easy approach, you probably wouldn’t have made it this far. In fact, six out of seven businesses do not make it through the first seven years.


Harry Truman said he wanted a one-handed economist because every one he talked to gave him a two-handed message: “On the one hand you can do this. On the other hand, you can do this.” King’s two-handed message is: “On the one hand, congratulations, you made it this far. On the other hand, there is much further to go.” You have done the hard part in terms of identifying a market for your products or services. Now, you must expand on your success by learning to work through people.

The difference between TEC members and those who run very big companies is that they learn to work through people. Once you learn to work through people and there is a real acceptance of your products and services in the marketplace, you can leverage that skill and continue to grow. As long as all of the decisions have to be made by those who you can get your arms around, there are limits to how much your business will progress.


What is the best work team that you have ever been a member of? This may be a team you were a part of 15 or 20 years ago or last year. Make it a for-profit business team, not a sports, charity or military team. What was the mission of the team? What makes it unique? If you recall, who were the people on that team?

Diversity is very important when putting together a team. We sometimes get almost phobic about having conflict in our companies, but a certain amount of conflict is desirable in organizations. It is difficult to have first-class creativity if you do not have some real conflict, i.e. people challenging you.

It is common among business people that a highly successful team is a powerful emotional experience bringing people together as a part of something larger than themselves, working toward a common goal.

If you have grown kids going out into the work force today, to the extent you can influence it, get them to be a member of a highly-productive, performing team. This kind of experience early in their career is worth at least, if not more than, a high-quality, private university education, because it will fundamentally define who they are and what they are capable of doing.


Some of the key themes the members brought to light in recalling their team experiences were ‘challenge,’ “focus,” and confidence.

Focus: If nothing else, go back and get your people to do even more than they are doing. Increasing sales four percent next year probably will not cut it. Look for something that re-defines industry standards. Leaders are people who set standards, by definition. Challenge your people, look for things that others are doing differently and then develop your focus – what it is, specifically, you are going to do and by when.

Another key theme brought up by the members is “fun.” Being on a winning team is a lot of fun. Typically a really good team experience includes long hours where team members really push the limit and there is a sense of pride, excitement and the challenge of redefining who they are and who their teammates are. One of the things that we overlook is how serious play is to adults as well as children.

These are the kinds of teams that make a difference and are remembered 25 years later. Use this profile to assess your current team.


1. Diagram your current organizational chart, including all of your direct reports.

2. Next, do a global rating (from 1-10) of each members’ effectiveness; including their technical contribution, team playing ability, communication skills and WIT (whatever it takes) factor. The people who were on the most effective teams that you recalled, were tens.

3. Do a global rating of the team as a whole (1-10).

4. List the strengths and weaknesses of your team.

5. As you go through this process, if something comes to mind that you would like to do to improve your team – make a note of it.


The members form breakout groups to compare notes.

Share the ratings of your overall team, the strengths and weaknesses of your team and any ideas you have to improve your team.

The ratings are used to identify three levels of performers on your team:

1. Excellent performers (9 or 10)

2. Good performers (7 or 8)

3. Mediocre or below performers (6 and below)

It is not the number that is important, but the level at which you see your member performing.

A member brings up the concern that it is difficult to rate a person since they may be strong in one area and not in another.

Really excellent people are very good in many areas, certainly there are some things they do not do well but when it comes to their job, these things may not be relevant.

A member shares a situation where, in comparing one of his employees to one of his competitors, he was reminded that he may not be that great, but in terms of the competition, he looked pretty good! King reiterates the story of the bear, where the important thing was not out-running the bear, but the other guy.

If you get idealistic, then you are going to fail, but if you stay realistic about your competitors and what they are doing, there are some tremendous opportunities available, and it starts with your people.

EXCELLENT PERFORMERS: If you have people who fall into the excellent category, sit down with them one-to-one as soon as possible and tell them, specifically, what they are doing that makes such a major difference for your company. For example, when we were about to lose that major contract with a key customer and you went out there and pitched camp and didn’t leave until you got the signature on the contract, that made a major difference for us.” Praise them for both their individual efforts and their team efforts. However, stay away from global feedback, i.e. you are really a good person.”

All too often, the people who do a lot of good work get more work as their reward. Ihat is not necessarily bad, if there are also other forms of recognition for what they are doing.

Let excellent people know that you appreciate their efforts personally as well as professionally. Let them know that their contribution allows you to take some time off without being afraid that the organization is going to fall apart in your absence. Put yourself in their shoes and realize that when people have earned this type of recognition, they need to receive it.

GOOD PERFORMERS: Do the same with them in terms of recognition on a one-to-one basis. Additionally, let them know what they can do to become an excellent performer in your company. Although you may know your people socially and they may have been with you for a long time, do not let these relationships get in the way of giving them specific input about what they can do to become an even better performer for the company.

MEDIOCRE PERFORMERS: Sit down with each of these people and create a written plan for the next 90 days for them to significantly and dramatically improve their performance. Commit to meeting with each person on a weekly basis for a short five to ten minute ‘huddle. If the mediocre and below people do not report directly to you, then the person who is their immediate supervisor should carry out this process.


Start with the key group of people who report to you because this gives tremendous insight into your company.

Commit to coaching those who are not in the excellent’ category and ask them what you can do to help them.

Meet with them consistently for short five to ten minute meetings.

If you do this, one of three things can happen:

1. One of the best rewards of leadership is to turn around a mediocre employee and make them a solid contributor. This happens probably 30% of the time. it is amazing what kind of perceptions people carry around about what you expect of them. This type of concerted communication will take all of the ambiguity and lack of clarity out of the system and they will know what you expect of them and how they are doing. The only uncertain variables will be ability and commitment.

2. The person can decide that this job is not for them. Sometimes a job is just not a fit. People change and this type of coaching and review will bring, that to the forefront.

3. If neither of these two things happen, then you have to make the tough decision to begin the process of replacing that person. Replace them at your discretion when it is best for the company.

Toleration of mediocrity by the CEO is one of the most common problems which has held companies back, though sometimes for the best of reasons: loyalty, seniority, longevity, etc.

One member brought up the issue that in today’s society it is difficult to legally fire someone. King asserts that if you give them a 90-day written plan and outline the expectations, meeting with them consistently, you can legitimately let them go if they do not meet the agreed-upon expectations. The real risk is not in firing someone, but in tolerating mediocrity. Give them every chance, but keep your expectations structured and very clear.

As you tolerate the mediocrity, you lose face as a leader from the rest of the people you are leading. They are waiting for you to make the call. If you do let someone go, let them save face, handle it in a professional way without engaging your emotions.

In the mission statement for this presentation, “quality” people is underlined. This is key because often consultants go into companies attempting to team build with incompetent, quasi-motivated people and it does not work. A lot of cynicism is created in such an atmosphere. Get quality people who are really committed and then there are a lot of things you can do to build a team.


Write down the answer to the following question and take on the discipline to stop and ask yourself this question every month:

What are the most important things that I got done this past month? Then go to your daytimer and look at the relationship between where the time went and these most important items.

The battle we are all fighting is the battle of the sense of the urgent versus the sense of the important. This is an idea that comes from Peter Drucker’s early book, “The Effective Executive.” He calls this idea “time auditing.” We all know the value of financial auditing to see where the company’s money is going. At least as important as the finances, is how the time of the CEO is spent and with what or whom. Take on the discipline to regularly review how you are doing on fighting the sense of the urgent.

2. Contact with major customers or clients.

3. Development of new products or service lines.

4. Developing your people in all the ways that you can: management by walking around, formal training sessions, riding to see clients together, etc.

5. Watching cash. The first rule of the entrepreneur is never run out of cash – as long as you have cash, you have a business. Without cash, it gets ugly early.

6. Managing the balance sheet. Look at the other part of the financial statement, not just profit and loss. One of the great ways to compete is with agood balance sheet.

7. Continued professional development. Let your people know all the things you do to develop yourself, i.e. reading books, listening to tapes, going to trade seminars, participating in TEC.

Compare this list of seven items to the list of tasks you completed. These seven activities all contribute to the long-term well-being of the company and that is the real role of the CEO. In a lot of small and medium-sized companies, someone is carrying the title of CEO, but that role is being neglected, if done at all. When you look at how your time is really spent, it is more in the day-to-day, operational side of the business. In truth, many are acting as a CFO or COO. Find the time to be the CEO.

This seven-item list of activities can be done in 20 hours a week or less. It is not your role as CEO that is demanding all of the time that you are putting in. There are people who are CEOs of more than one company and do it successfully. The only way that this can possibly be done is by having a first-class operations team in place to take care of the day-to-day activities of the business.


Spend some time during your one-to-ones creating a specific vision of what your company would look like and what you would be doing if it really were team-based and team-led. Think of what it would look like when you walked in the office in the morning. Who would be there? What would they be doing? Where would your office be? What kind of noises would you hear? What would it smell and feel like? Develop a very specific vision of your company one, two or three years down the road.

You are high achievers. When you set your mind in motion with a very specific goal to move toward, the chances of your getting there are very good. If you leave it at the level of “someday I’d like to get there,” your chances are almost zero. Do not phrase it as something you want to move away from, as entrepreneurs are not very good at moving away from things – you are much better at moving towards something that has some real excitement to it.


1. Get the right people: Let the excellent and good people know what they are doing right.

2. Do something about the mediocre people: Do the assessment of your team again a year from now with the expectation that you can say that your team is a nine or a ten.

3. Take your people and commit to a team-centered strategic planning session: Unless you are a very good player/coach, get an outside facilitator to help you. The key words are not “strategic planning,” they are “team-centered.” Get your people together and let them show you how smart they are. Your key role is to hold back and let others speak first in this session – they know how smart you are, give them a chance to express themselves and listen.

One of the things you want to create in this session is a strategic vision. What is this company going to look like in three years? What are the products and services you are going to be delivering? What is the customer profile that you want to sell to? What is the internal culture of the company going to look like? What are your sales level and profit margin goals?

Misplanning process is very important – no tnis ir flowing else necause tnis is tne rirst leg in the three-legged stool in building an entrepreneurial team – creating a strategic vision of the company, together. It draws on one of the few well-known principles of psychology, which is that people tend to be involved in implementing what they are involved in creating. You want the members of your team to have the same sense of ownership that you do.

4. Review the plan quarterly: This sounds straightforward, but most people do not do it. We tend to complete more goals than we think we do. There is something about the way we perceive the world, what we remember is not what we did, but what we didn’t do.

Get away for two to four hours on a quarterly basis and discuss the following: What goals have we completed?

• What goals are in progress?

• What goals are no longer relevant?

What goals have not been completed and what needs to be done to complete them?

The order of these questions is very important. This discussion is positive, purposeful and will create a sense of confidence in your people that they can set goals and complete them. If you do not review the plan, you are setting up a condition of cynicism by spending too much time on the vision and not enough time on the momentum. What teams really need is plenty of both vision and momentum. If you do this, in a year and a half to three years, your culture will be very different. The planning and review process will just be a living part of that culture and how people operate.

5. Coach your key executives: This plan gives you a blueprint to coach your key executives as to what they need to do to be successful and make their contribution to the company.

6. Complete a team review of each team members’ strengths and weaknesses: Take this performance appraisal process out from behind the closed doors of your office and give it to the team as a whole. Have people do written assessments of themselves and everyone else on the team and get together to review them. In the appendix of the handout, there are 15 steps of how to go about this in a positive way.

A member mentions a situation where he put off the strategic planning process until he had the team in place that he wanted. The planning process taught him more about the team process than he ever learned during the day to day operations. In retrospect, he would have taken the team he inherited and started the strategic planning process right away because, as it was, it took him 18 months to get rid of all the “dead wood.”

Had he involved these people in the strategic planning process, he feels the “purging” process would have been cut in half because he would have seen their weaknesses or they would have self-selected if they had seen where the company was going. Additionally, some of these people may not have been “dead wood” after all, had they been given the opportunity to contribute and apply their creativity to the planning process.

7. Don’t create places to hide in your company: Certainly not on the management team or executive team. If you get your team together and allow everyone equal time to talk, some of the three’s and four’s will clearly stand out. In this way, people self-select and decide that maybe they cannot keep up the pace necessary to succeed. On the other hand, the creativity that comes out in these sessions is amazing.

8. Develop a performance-based measurement system: Ask yourself the following questions:

• What do your people think they are being paid for?

• And, how closely related is that to your “critical success factors?”

• Do your people understand that it is the success of the company that provides their paycheck? That it is not being on good terms with you, their longevity, loyalty or effort?

Look for risk-takers. People who would be willing to take 70% of their base compensation that they could get in the open market, in exchange for an opportunity to earn 50% to 100% or more of that base compensation for a really great year by the company. In other words, have people working with you that get paid the same way you do.

Creating co-entrepreneurs is the second leg on the three-legged stool. This takes the whole area of team building out of the clouds and makes it very real and very material to them, so that when the team wins it really matters, financially, to them. Look at your compensation systems, bring it to the group and talk about them. Do not change your compensation until you think it through completely. Be like a good pool player and think several shots ahead, because there are many things tied to the compensation system other than the amount of dollars that people take home, i.e. their sense of self-worth. Make sure you getting what you are paying for in your compensation system.

9. celebrate wins: you do not celebrate enough. When you rent out the ballroom and get out the tuxedos at the end of a great year, that is wonderful, but celebrations of successes need to take place more often. Small and inexpensive celebrations that take more creativity than money, send the message within your company that ‘we are winning.” You have things going on in your business every month, every week or maybe even every day that are cause for celebration.

For example, one of King’s TEC members had a shipment going out to an important customer which, had it gone out, would have been a real embarrassment to the company. The warehouse workers were on their toes and saved the shipment. The customer never knew about it, it saved the company money and, more importantly, saved it from embarrassment. This type of occurrence is cause for celebration. Small celebrations done frequently can send a huge message in to your company.

It is unbelievable how your behavior can be overly-interpreted. If you come in to work with a frown on your face from fighting morning traffic, the next thing you know, employees are in the restrooms saying “Oh, we’re going to have another layoff!” That is the down side of having your behavior overly- interpreted, but think of the up-side. Your enthusiasm and sense of excitement is very contagious and it radiates outward to your employees.

10. Champion team philosophy and practice as the CEO: This is your stump speech. Draw on your enthusiasm and be ready and willing on a moment’s notice, to jump up and tell your people what a great place to work this is, your vision and the kind of people needed to get there and the benefits that will come to those people as you reach your goals. This should be a short, three to five minute speech, repeated often. Communication experts contend that in order for a message to be heard, it must be heard at least seven times.

This is really just internal selling. You should use the same energy and conviction in your internal selling as if you had a chance to call on the biggest customer you have ever had. Your people need your energy.

A member had a unique opportunity at his holiday party where the spouses were in attendance. He gave crystal star ornaments to each of the spouses to get the message across that each employee, as well as their spouse, is considered a star performer in the organization.

This is a good time to “enroll” the spouses in your business’ mission. Your people almost expect it. Communication research shows that 85% of the effectiveness of your speech is how you say it – not what you say. Use conviction and passion to get your message across.

King uses another example of how important simple, creative gestures are in the story or an associate who asked the women in his customer service department how they would like to be recognized. They met and decided that they wanted a gold ribbon presented to them by the CEO which they got to keep during the month after they had been recognized. Your biggest reinforcer is not the dollar, it is your time.

If you are going to recognize people, make sure you do it broadly. Depending on your situation, singling out people for recognition can be divisive. An exception is when it is clear to everyone that a certain person deserves recognition.

11. Build middle management teams by replicating steps 3-10 with key executives: Have your team members do the same process with the people who report to them and the teams they are trying to lead. They can do this in a half-day retreat, and plan for not three years as your key executives do, but for one year, where everyone is involved in creating the vision for their department. Hold your key executives responsible for building their team and help them to be a leader, not just a technical person.

A member had his direct reports develop departmental mission statements. Each of his direct reports expressed, with a lot of passion and enthusiasm, where they wanted to take the business, then went back to their departments and got their team involved in perfecting the mission. This was a tremendous motivator for the employees.

Developing these quality team members is the key to your 20-hour work week previously discussed.

12. Support a culture of learning and creativity: It is very difficult to demand creativity. What you can do is support and nurture it. Create a brown bag seminar series where you ask your people to bring their lunch and give them an extra 15 minutes to listen to a speaker which you have provided, i.e. a vendor introducing a new product into your company, a video tape on leadership, supervision, etc. or even the fire department to do CPR training. The content does not matter, what does is getting your people together and challenging their existing ideas. Do not confuse your learning styles and environments with those people who work for you. You travel the world, read books, listen to tapes, etc… your production-level people probably do not do this.

One member reported utilizing the brown bag idea once a month and getting 25% turnout from the total work force. Another member commented that besides the obvious benefits to morale, the brown bag program he has implemented is all self-managed.

King adds the example of one of the companies he worked with where the departments took turns hosting other departments. For example, the sales department presented a program on their job responsibilities to the loan servicing department. The amount of information that came out of this session was amazing.

One member utilized this type of program to orient new employees by having each department explain their responsibilities in a skit. Not only was valuable information exchanged, but the humorous approach aided in breaking down barriers between departments. Four years later, the employees still talk about it.

What drives this model for building a winning team is communication. Look at your Communication in your one-to-one situations.


What are the three most important things in your company that you measure on a consistent basis– other than sales and profits?

If you were to ask your people this same question above, would you get the same answer from them that you wrote down?

To the extent that you answered yes to that question, you have focus. If you said no, that is something you may want to reexamine. Ask this question in your strategic planning retreat and give your team an appropriate amount of time to come up with an answer.

The strategic planning experts refer to these as ‘critical success factors’ – the few factors that are absolutely critical to your success. Referring back to Mark Twain – it is easy to come up with 99 factors important for our success – the real chullerige is to come up with just a few.

This is where healthy conflict is important – you want good, honest disagreement here so you can work the issues from all sides, and then come up with a few key factors that everyone can agree upon and commit to.


Complete the questionnaire on pages 12 and 13 in the handout on how you structure your one-to-one communication with your managers. This is time over and above the times you meet at the coffee pot or when you stop in each other’s offices for five minutes. This is time dedicated to do first-class problem-solving and both short and long-term opportunity identification.

What benefit do you and the company get out of doing one to ones with managers?

One of the most complimentary things you can do with your team is to set a time to meet with a direct report in his office and arrive there at the appointed time. This says so much about how important they are to you. If something comes up you do not take them off of your calendar. Obviously, sometimes you will have to alter your plans, but make it as rare as possible. Structure your one-to-one meetings and spend time talking not only about today’s issues, but also about future opportunities. Teach your people to think strategically.

Commit to re-doing this exercise and scoring 40 or more in six months. It will make a major difference in your company, how you run it and your relationship with your key people. This is particularly important if you manage technical people. You must have time to talk about talking, otherwise all of the time will be spent talking about technology.


You are well aware of most of these steps, it is just a matter of doing them consistently.

1. Designated time for beginning and ending.

2. Prepared agenda.

3. Clearly stated desired outcomes.

4. Individual written assignments given prior to the meeting.

5. Only people who can contribute to the solution(s) are present.

6. Everyone present contributes multiple times.

7. All decisions are publicly recorded and distributed.

8. Prior decisions and actions taken are reviewed with particular attention to successes.

9. Meeting leadership is rotated. Everyone on the team takes their turn leading the meeting. It is not your meeting it is “our” meeting.

10. The CEO speaks last.

11. The speed of the meeting is increased. This is the most important. Our meetings go too slowly out of a false sense of social politeness. Encourage everyone in the meeting to address an issue and then move on.

12. The meeting is critiqued for outcome and process.

MEETING EXERCISE: Think of an issue in your company that you would be willing to discuss with your TE,C group in a brainstorming session, i.e. a new product you are introducing, a possible merger, major receivable you are having, problems collecting, etc.


1. A real life issue from a team member is chosen.

2. A description of the issue is presented.

3. Only questions are asked to diagnose the issue.

4. Only statements are made for recommendations, solutions and concerns.

5. A summary of what was heard is made by the team member.

6. The team is asked to repeat or amplify anything in the summary.

7. The team member is asked to publicly commit to a plan of action relative to the issue.

At this point, the members put their issues in a sentence or phrase to share with the group. The group then works these issues in breakout groups of two to four members, choosing “reporters” to share insights, solutions, and concerns.

The main idea is to have the person with the issue be quiet for a period of time and not to rebut all of the suggestions.


1. Assessment:

Look at yourself and your role: What is your vision for the company? What do you spend your time doing?

The team: Make your commitment to have only good and excellent people and acknowledge their contributions. Create a 90-day plan for those mediocre people.

2. Strategic planning retreat and team vision: Get people together to construct the vision.

3. Quarterly review of the plan: It sounds simple, but it is very important and often overlooked.

4. Coaching (use of one-to-ones): Re-take the scale and score 40 or more. Let this be a reflection of how you are coaching your people.

5. Development of middle management teams by your executives: Fill Out the pyramid and charge your people with the responsibility of building their own teams and model such behavior for them.

6. Team-based evaluation: Take it out from behind your office and share with your team.

7. Measurement systems (Critical success factors): Find the five to seven factors that are critical to your business.

8. Compensation systems (Co-entrepreneurs): Relate your measurement factors to your compensation systems. Give people real bonuses and make them co-entrepreneurs – have them take some risk with you.

9, Celebrations (small and frequent): Find inexpensive ways to celebrate frequently and creatively.

10. Championing of teamwork by CEO (stump speech): Give this frequently and enthusiastically.

11. Culture of learning and creativity (Your company as learning center): Use ideas such as the brown-hag seminar series to turn your company into a learning center.

12. high energy (High involvement meetings): Make your meetings high energy, high involvement, problem-solving opportunities, not just places to disseminate information.

13. The third leg on the entrepreneurial team stool: Social psychologiss who have studied the process called the life boat phenomenon, say that people who survive a life-threatening experience remember it for the rest of their lives. This can be literally getting off a sinking ship and on to a life boat or it can be lots of other experiences, i.e. floods, surviving combat, earthquakes, etc. These are very difficult economic times that you are attempting to navigate through as CEO of your company. Employees in companies like yours want the best job of leadership that they can get from their CEO. Much of what they have is riding on your company.

When you make the decision of who will be on your team, pull those people together and let them know that they are a part of something larger than themselves and that together, you are going to get to the other side safely.

This third leg of the entrepreneurial stool is the spiritual leg. People carry around fear, panic, anxiety and alienation with them on a daily basis. One of the things that families, communities, tribes and teams can do is to combat that fear and negativity by knowing that they have someone beside them who is going to be there. For your people who have earned that, let them know that they have your support.


Take the psychological and emotional part of creating the vision, tie in the financial opportunities aspect for the co-entrepreneurs, and combine it with the third part – the team spirit, and you can progress and attain some very challenging goals.

If someone asks one of your people, ten or 20 years from now, about the best team they were ever a member of, they will describe your team, if you practice these team building strategies. That is a very powerful gift to give someone, because winning team experiences are so valuable to all of us.


TEC – Entrepreneurial Team Building for Strategic Success – Larry King