Can any one person be an expert at team building, communication and positive thinking? Must you have all three of these abilities or does one make you an expert of the other two? I’ve read many books on each subject and have attended intensive training seminars on all three and I’ve come to a clear conclusion.

What one thing do team building, communication and positive thinking have in common? Is team building simply getting a group of people together and showing them how to work as a team, as well as showing them the benefits of working as a unit? Is communication simply teaching people how to converse clearly so others understand exactly what is said? Is positive thinking something you teach a group of people to do each day?

Team building

How do you get your group of highly competitive, confident and talented people to work as a team?

LeRoy Edward Kienitz served in the United States Army’s 104th Signal Company in Europe during World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism.

His job was to deliver important messages from the front line to the back line. He traveled from front to back any way he could. He drove through machine gun fire, mortars and bombs to get important messages back to headquarters and was very ingenious and successful in doing so. You’ve probably heard of the Battle of the Bulge? This area in Europe was where LeRoy drove around in his jeep delivering messages while being shot at.

When the Battle of the Bulge was over, American and British casualties were 82,987 and Germany had 84,834. Did the Americans and British beat the Germans because of better teamwork? Did LeRoy and the important messages he delivered have much to do with the win?

After the war, LeRoy returned to Minnesota and married a pretty girl named Charlotte Lagerquist. They fell madly in love, had two kids and then LeRoy started his own business. He opened a gas station and offered auto repair and towing. LeRoy developed a reputation for his integrity and honesty and was well known and respected in the community. LeRoy and Charlotte raised their children, operated their business over the years and then retired. They recently celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary.

What does this story have to do with team building? LeRoy was the kind of guy who could play on anyone’s team and be a team player. He was a team player in the Army, in his community and with his family. LeRoy wanted everyone to win. He didn’t have a plan or scheme to get rich or to take over the town. He really wanted everyone to win.

What happens when you work, live or just hang out with someone who really has your best interests at heart? What happens to you when you have a supervisor who really wants you to succeed? What happens when you realize the person you live with or work with really does have your best interests in mind? It’s an amazing thing but what happens is that you build trust!

I’ve heard people say, “I trust everyone until they give me reason not to trust them.” A child will trust just about anyone. Once that child becomes an adult he or she learns that their trust must be earned. Trust is a work in progress. You can build it one day and tear it down another. Unless you consistently build trust, you cannot build a team.

Maybe LeRoy was a team player in the Army because his life and the lives of so many others were at stake. Maybe, LeRoy was a team player in his community and to his family because he was just a nice guy. Personally, I think LeRoy was a team player because he sincerely wanted people to win and he trusted people and was trusted to his dying day.


Let’s bring clarity to our communication. When we say something to another person we say it in hopes they will understand. When we want to communicate our ideas, opinions or love for that matter, we use all sorts of words that may or may not get our point across.

When the leader of a family, business or country communicates goals to others, there must be buy-in, which you get through trust. Goals are great, however, people don’t really buy into another person’s goals unless they trust that person.

Trust results in great communication. If you don’t have trust, you don’t have communication. A couple can get marriage counseling to work out a problem but if you don’t trust your spouse you won’t work out the problem. The real problem is trust.

In business it’s strange but you can hire all kinds of people who will tell you what you want to hear. You can hire people you can control. You can also hire someone who will tell you there’s a communication problem within upper management. The question is, “Why is there a communication problem?” Communication gets better and better as people trust each other.

Positive Thinking

How do we get our people to have a “can-do” attitude? How do we get people to believe that anything is possible? Personally, I believe positive thinking is a key behavior in attaining success in our personal and professional lives.

The question to ask is, “Why do people working for me think negatively? Why don’t they have a ‘can-do’ attitude? Why do they seem so negative about change, about opportunities and the future?”

LeRoy risked his life delivering accurate information to his commanding officers from the battle lines. What if LeRoy decided it was too dangerous for him to drive back and forth from the battle lines delivering messages? What if LeRoy decided to make up some fake messages so he could stay where it was safe? What would happen if the commanding officers didn’t get the right information?

Accurate information is critical to making good decisions. Accurate information is critical to positive thinking. It’s difficult for a commander to think positively if he doesn’t get accurate information. It’s also difficult for the troops to think positively if they don’t see the commander make a positive decision.

Negative and inaccurate information greatly influences an owner or commanders vision, yet forces them to make a decision based on negative inaccurate information. The key is to confirm positive or negative information on your own even if it means confrontation.

Positive thinking is not just a couple of words. Positive thinking is a way of life, or the way a business is run. However, to create an atmosphere where positive thinking is widespread it must be practiced and instilled. The way positive thinking is instilled in others is through trust.

If someone talks about being a positive thinker, but is truly a critical, self-serving, judgmental manager, most likely the people he or she works with won’t become positive because they don’t trust their manager. Trust creates people who have positive, can do attitudes.

Team Building, Communication, Positive Thinking

There are experts who teach team building, communication and positive thinking for a living and some of them make big bucks. However, there are very few experts who can teach you to trust and be trustworthy.

How many people can you really trust with your life, career or business? Quickly name those people! The first couple of names that pop into your head are probably people you can trust. If you have to think about it for more than a minute, the names are probably people who either tell you what you want to hear or people you can control.

Trust results in team building, communication and positive thinking. You can’t have the three without the one and there aren’t any experts we can pay to create trust.

LeRoy was a real expert in the subject of trust and earned the Bronze Star for heroism. If trust is truly the key, why are we not all experts like LeRoy.

Remember: Teamwork begins with a fair contract.