Teams are what drives success. Startups, rock bands and sport teams: each one has the potential to rise or fall based on the group of people who share the same passion and goals and are working together to achieve success.
I have had the fortune to be a part of several teams in both my professional and personal life, but only when I had a chance to be a part of a team building process did I finally understand the meaning of having a team where each member contributes their knowledge, personality and skills for the benefit of the whole. Here are some key factors that, in my opinion, make for a great team:
1. Make sure your team members are smarter than you.
One of the most important things I realized while being a member of a team is that when I have the opportunity to build my own team, I will always reach out to people who I think are smarter than me. I always believed that in order to be the best, I need to learn from those who are better than me and make them my partners—my team. By surrounding yourselves with people who are smarter than you in areas you are less familiar with, you will ensure that your team will always move forward to achieve their goals. Even more importantly, it will allow the members of the team to learn from one another, improve their own skills and become better, and this is something every team needs.
2. Everyone should be a leader.
I’m a great believer in decentralization of responsibilities. I used to think that hierarchy was a vital part of creating an organization, but I was wrong. Hierarchy, especially in small organizations, can suppress your team’s creativity and freedom to think and act.
Think of the great Chicago Bulls: they had Michael Jordan, but what would have happened if the only guy who could make a decision on the court was Jordan himself? The Bulls and Jordan were the best because every team member had the freedom to bring his thoughts and skills to the table, allowing the team to win and succeed. Make sure that you hire only those who would be interested in taking on responsibilities, and be ready to let them lead.
3. Brainstorm often.
Brainstorming is a great way to set goals, road maps and have a discussion on just about anything. Use brainstorming as a platform to hear new ideas and allow your team members to find creative solutions to everyday challenges you may encounter along the way.
Brainstorming will allow your team members to express their thoughts and flourish. This will help them to be better at what they do, but also to take on more responsibilities.
4. A team doesn’t need a Yes man.
Honesty is vital to a well-performing team. A team that strive to be the best cannot afford having someone who is not honest, and honesty begins with expressing your real opinion, all the time.
A Yes man is someone who will always agree with you, and the last thing a team needs is someone who is always saying, “Yes”. When one of your team members is always agreeing with what you say, it either means they are smarter than you (because they are confirming something you thought of) or less smart than you, and in order to build a fully functional team you need someone who will think differently and will show you different paths to achieve your goals. When building your team, make sure you are creating a culture where each and every one of the team members will feel comfortable to express their own, unique thoughts.
5. Treat your team members as if they were your family.
This, for me, is the most important rule in building a team. You and your partners are working together in order to set and achieve your goals, and that means you need to trust and respect each other as if you were brothers and sisters. By adding people you trust to your team, you’re allowing yourself to move forward with every decision you make and be confident about it. Trust and respect your partners, let them feel a part of the family and help each other to improve and develop your skills all the time; that’s the only way all of you will rise to the occasion, and win.