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The Gold Standard
by Mike Krzyzewski with Jamie K. Spatola

Building A World Class Team

Because I have been a coach for the majority of my life, I am often asked, "How do you build a team?" This book is my response to that question. My proudest times as a coach are those when I recognize that a group of players has become a team, a whole that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. From the summer of 2006 through the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, I had the opportunity to work with a group whose parts were some of the most talented basketball players in the game. And I had the privilege of being their coach as this amazing team came together to bring the gold medal back to the United States. In serving as the National Coach for USA Basketball over this three-year period, I was lucky enough to have the most gratifying experience of my career. It was an experience that I believe illustrates what teambuilding is all about.

You do not select a team, you select a group of people and then work together to develop into a team. In other words, teams don't instantaneously become, they evolve. To do so, you need time, goals and competition.

When I say time, I don't simply mean the amount of days, hours or weeks that you spend with one another, though this quantity of time is vitally important. I really mean the way that you spend that time. I mean the quality of it, the focus. When you are given the responsibility of building a team, you must make time for certain things. Time to form relationships. Time to establish standards. Time to get motivated. In the same vein, there are certain things for which there is no time. no time for excuses. No time for surprises. No time for inner turmoil. Leaders are responsible for ensuring that you spend both the necessary quantity and quality of time to get the job done and for making certain that no time is wasted.

Competition is also vital to success in teambuilding. In some cases, competition may be the very reason you have a team. But regardless of your goal, the competition your team will encounter must inform your decisions as a leader. you must develop a comprehensive understanding of who and what you're facing. Your training and preparation are then based on this understanding.

Throughout the course of your team's lifespan, competition also serves as an opportunity for self-assessment. How you team functions under the pressure of competition can help the leader judge the effectiveness of your training, determine the direction you need to take, and discover what changes and improvements must be made. You train, you go to combat, and then you retrain--it's how you ensure that you are evolving the right way.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI has been the basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils for twenty-seven years, winning three NCAA championships and twelve national Coach of the Year awards. He is revered and respected by sports fans and business leaders everywhere. Coach K lives with his family in Durham, North Carolina.

JAMIE K. SPATOLA is a graduate of Duke University, where she majored in English. She is also one of Coach K's daughters.

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