“Good teams know no titles when it comes to new ideas” – Coach Mike Krzyzewski #CNX15


Today was the first day of #CNX15 and it kicked off with a great opening keynote – Coach Mike Krzyzewski. As a new manager I was really excited to hear from arguably one of the most inspirational leaders of our time about the importance of team work. Coack K has 40 years of experience as a Basketball Coach and has worked with the greats including Michael Jordan. Under his leadership, his teams have gone on to win National Championships, World Championships and the Olympics!

One of things that I find myself concerned with these days is ensuring my team work well together and develop, not only as a team, but individually. What was so inspirational about Coach K was that he spoke about the lessons he learnt from his leaders and his team. One of the greatest lesson he learnt as a leader came from Michael Jordan. It was he who saw everyone in his team as important. As Coach K explained it, Jordan saw a horizontal totem pole, instead of the traditional vertical totem pole. In terms of business organisations – “Good teams know no titles when it comes to new ideas.” For a great team to develop, each team member needs to feel important. Businesses are formed with a vertical hierarchy (or totem pole). See it – but don’t function in that way when it comes to people or ideas.

When it comes to developing yourself and your team, there are 4 qualities that GREAT leaders and GREAT teams possess:

1. Adaptability
2. Ownership
3. Emotion
4. Trust

Adaptability – this is self explanatory in some respects. However, not easy to implement. In marketing, we on a daily basis have to understand and implement different channels, juggle the objectives of different stakeholders and keep on top of an industry that is constantly changing. Adapting to everything is by no means easy, but is the sign of a great marketer.

Ownership – idea of each team member owning their responsibility within the team, whether it be their tasks or in how they interact with other team members. In basketball, this manifests as a mission: “playing for us.” In business, we need the same mantra. Coach K achieved a sense of ownership by asking the team themselves to set the standards. Instead of rules, there were team standards. And the whole team stuck to those standards religiously! The team respected each other.

Emotion – or feeling. How do you develop emotion? For the USA Olympic team, Coach K achieved this by creating a sense of pride in representing their country and their countrymen. For my business, I hope to see this achieved by the successful delivery of our events. In my brief experience, the marketers who have inspired me most seem to live and breathe their products (not in a work-is-taking-over-my-life way!) Coach K stressed the importance of imagination. As a team, you need to visualise the goal, imagine the successful result and work together to achieve this.

Trust – team cannot function without trust. You have to have faith that when you take the offensive, your team is backing you up! It’s the same in business. When you have an idea, or you are working on a task – you need to have faith that your teammates are there to support you.

To develop these 4 qualities is not easy. Coach K spoke today about how important it is to never stop learning or seeking inspiration and networking. This is important not only to develop as a leader but to develop team.

Thanks to Coach K and the #CNX15 team!


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