Want A Great Team? Run Better Huddles

Are you fully engaged in your team meetings?


Don Yaeger, author, public and former Sports Illustrated editor, speaks and writes often on the topic of What Makes Great Teams Great? In this video, he covers one of the most important actions you can take to develop your team – run better huddles Relating this to the corporate world, Don says, “When you run better meetings, you have more time to be out creating opportunities for your team. Running better huddles is actually a strategic advantage for great teams in sports and in business.”

How do you run better huddles? The first step is to require everyone in the meeting to be all in -- 100 percent present. No one checking their email or on their smartphones. Don explains that in those moments, people can miss critical information and cause the team to lose an opportunity (as in the story he relates in this video). It’s also key for leaders to show that they have the discipline to resist distractions during meetings.

And finally, Don shares the two questions that need to be asked and answered at the end of every effective meeting. Discover what they are, along with the rest of Don’s insights for running better huddles and building great teams. You’ll find more of Don’s videos and stories of “the great ones” on his Leadercast speaker channel @ http://www.leadercast.com/author/don-yaeger/

So one of the habits of great teams is that they actually run better huddles than their opponents. They recognize that if you can run a great huddle, it could be a strategic advantage. Your opponent has to run a huddle as well. They have to run meetings just like you do. But if you run better meetings, you have more time to be out creating sales, creating opportunities for your team. Running better huddles is, actually, a strategic advantage for great teams in sports and in business. One of the examples where this really became graphically clear to me was a story some of your viewers might remember. There was a basketball national championship game a number of years ago between the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina.Michigan had this collection of talented young players called the "Fab Five." They were five young guys that came out of high school together, decided to go to the same college, and they were going to take over the world. Their best player was a guy by the name of Chris Webber.In their sophomore season, they're playing in the national championship game, and Chris Webber gets the ball and he actually gets kind of trapped against the sideline. The team needs a basket in order to tie the game, and Chris Webber actually calls timeout. Now, the team had no timeouts. They had no timeouts left.In that case, when you have no timeouts left and you call one, it's a technical foul, and the other team gets free throws. Michigan lost the national championships because Chris Webber called this timeout.The head coach at Michigan, Steve Fisher, when he called his last timeout, he looked each player in the eye and he said, "We have no timeouts left," and every player acknowledged it, including Chris Webber. But standing outside the huddle was the third string point guard, a guy who wasn't going to play any game and had no chance of being on the roster. He actually was waving at people in the crowd, doing things. He wasn't listening as the coach was imparting this very important knowledge. His teammate gets trapped along the sidelines, and this player yells, "Call timeout." So Chris Webber does, and as a result, the team loses the national championship. The big lesson in this, from some coaches who have shared this with me, is that there you are. He's technically a part of the team, but he wasn't engaged in the huddle. How often do we have huddles or meetings in our office in which we have disengaged people checking their email or looking at Facebook while their sitting there? In those moments, important information could be being offered up. Information like, "We have no timeouts left." But if you're not listening, you could be the one screaming the wrong thing at your teammate when the chips are on the table and everything is down. That's one of the great concerns here is that great huddles require full engagement. In fact, I would tell you that there are three really important lessons in a great huddle. One is that you have to be fully present or fully absent. If you're not going be part of the huddle, get out of the room. If you're there and you're actually checking your email, "That's more important to you? Go do it in your cubicle. You don't need to do it in this meeting." The second is that all great huddles start on time and end on time. If you begin a habit where every meeting, and I've worked in organizations where everybody knew the meeting was going to start 7 to 10 minutes late, so guess what happens. We all show up 7 to 10 minutes late. If you begin a habit, like in sports, every great huddle has to start on time and end on time. Then finally, every huddle ends with two quick questions. One, did we accomplish what we came here to do? Does everybody understand what the game plan is as we leave the huddle? Second, how are we going to make sure we hold each other accountable to deliver on the game plan? Do you know exactly what your responsibility is out of that game plan? What route are you going to run? Where are you going to dribble the ball to? Be sports and tactical, but from a business perspective, don't let a huddle leave until it's well understood who's going to do what and how are they going to be held accountable for it.

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a nationally acclaimed inspirational speaker and author of 24 books, nine of which have become New York Times best-sellers. He is currently a Forbes contributing writer and a former associate editor for Sports Illustrate...

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