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Most football coaches know how to build strong teams. In Bo's Lasting Lessons, legendary University of Michigan Wolverines coach Bo Schembechler teamed up just before his death late in 2006 with writer John Bacon to offer advice to managers, including these steps for building your team.

It starts with recruitment

Hire people who actually want to work for you. Mr. Schembechler never hired anybody who sent him résumés, because he didn't want to get stuck with people eager to leave their jobs (and, therefore, likely to leave him a few years later). Instead, he tried to hire people he already knew, having seen them in action in various venues. On that score, he says one of the best ways to hire is from within your own organization, since you know the individuals and when they get promoted others will work harder to gain the same advantage.

Maximize the brain trust

Get the most out of your staff. Mr. Schembechler could be a control freak, but at the same time he did his best to always hear the honest opinions of his staff before making his decisions. Make sure your people are getting the best ideas out on the table.

Character players

Talent can blind us. Character counts for more. Many times, he passed up hotshots for players he thought were better people, and who performed more effectively on and off the field. "When you recruit for character, you sleep a lot better, too," he advised.

Motivate the middle men

You have to do everything possible to motivate your middle tier of talent. "It's your job, as the leader, to make those people do more than they thought they could - maybe more than you thought they could - and put them in the best possible position to help the team," he wrote.

Cultivate bench strength

Develop leaders a tier or two below you, so they can lead the tier below them. If you don't, you spend too much time policing the small things yourself and create an "us versus them" environment in the process.

Scuttle the star system

If you hire some stars, it's easy to let them run the show - and that's a big mistake. If they think they come before the team, you simply will not be successful in the long run. Mr. Schembechler found this out from experience: Beating teams with lots of stars who were out of control. Make sure you keep your top people in line.

A fighting chance for all

Every team has a lower tier of players or staff. With that group, the key is to just give them an honest chance to show you how good they can be. Don't write them off prematurely. You'll be amazed at what they can do for you.

Role players

Give everyone a role, and make it important: In that vein, give everyone on your team a clear, specific role to play, and show them how that role is vital to the success of the organization. If not, the job becomes little more than a chance to get a paycheque.

Sack with extreme prejudice

If you must fire, fire fast: If you discover dishonesty or disloyalty in the ranks, act quickly and move on.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Unlike football teams, you may not face the final seconds of the clock ticking down in a game. But just as football squads have to prepare endlessly for those situations, make sure that your team is well prepared for critical presentations and other important activities. If you're going to maximize your performance in high-pressured situations, you need to be organized long before the moment of truth arrives.

 

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