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Team Turnaround: Conversation Guide



Team Culture Transformation: Four simple questions, one big change


Increase followership and loyalty with a conversation.


I watched him come to life. He was more expressive – eyes big. He was sitting taller. No wasted words or fillers. He was inspiring in his clarity and emphasis. I didn’t have to record this or write it down – his brevity and conciseness made it unforgettable. He had inspired himself with his responses, and it was obvious. I was inspired, too.

My conversation with a strategy leader that morning started with four simple questions:

What do you want to learn?

“How to get my team to act and think like leaders; how to be more inspiring to my peers”

What do you want to build?

“A real strategic plan”

What do you want to teach?

“Strategic planning to my peers”

What do you want to experience?

“CHANGE”

When a manager comes to us with a team motivation issue, we have him or her schedule 1:1 meetings with each team member to ask them those four simple questions. The manager then needs to listen to individual responses, document them, and schedule a follow-up meeting in a month to revisit his or her team responses. It is in that follow-up meeting where you see if the answers to the questions have changed and if progress has been made. This is when your team sees you differently. Very few managers are this committed to their peoples’ development.


This is a powerful tool when the manager sincerely uses it to help his or her team members be their best and avoid further negative effects on team performance and culture. To do so, the manager should keep in mind his or her true intentions behind each question:


1. What do you want to learn?

- What the team member interprets: “I can learn from this person and experience. I need stretch goals. I need new goals.”

- What you are really saying: “I will help you grow.”

2. What do you want to build?

- What the team member interprets: “I am expected to build things and bring value.”

- What you are really saying: “I believe you can build a legacy with me.”

3. What do you want to teach?

- What the team member interprets: “I need to be a stronger voice.”

- What you are really saying: “I want to learn from you. I will give you space to teach me.”

4. What do you want to experience?

- What the team member interprets: “I need to be the change I want to see.”

- What you are really saying: “Your visions and dreams matter to me.”

Schedule your conversations this week. I encourage you to try this with high performers and under-performers. It’s motivating and great for building a trusted relationship. It may be what makes the under-performer turnaround and the high performer stay by your side.

If you know you could benefit from customized coaching on your leadership communication skills, answer a few questions for a proposal here.

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