How Do You Build a Successful Team?

Though many of us resist the idea, greater things can be accomplished by teams than by individuals.  Often we feel it's easier to do it ourselves due to the effort it takes to ask for help or to instruct others.  We lose the feeling of our own importance spreading the work around. It takes effort and leadership to determine how best to accomplish our goals, and only by forming effective teams can exceptional goals be accomplished.

When forming our teams, most times they have been assembled by chance and not by a deliberate effort of selection. We select those already closest to us in our work environments or those who act and think like us or those with whom we are most comfortable working with. Instead, we should be selecting members with diverse strengths, strengths we don't possess ourselves, to maximize the team.

According to Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, in their book Strengths Based Leadership, the most effective teams are well rounded, possessing one of each of the following four leadership traits:

  1. Executors: force within the team to implement the actions required to accomplish goals
  2. Influencers: persuade team members and those outside the team to make decisions leading to successful outcomes
  3. Relationship Builders: focused to build confidence by encouragement and creating positivity
  4. Strategic Thinkers: focus and guide the team to the future vision

The Oakland A's manager Billy Beane faced major league teams, who outspent the A’s on individual talent by up to three times his available resources. With help, he deliberately assembled a team filled with overlooked, individual players. They each had a specific talent that when combined as a cohesive team produced grand results. Though sports analogies are usually the easiest to identify, we can apply these team building ideas to our own professions. Another successful sports leader had the same idea years before.

"The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team. As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven."
- Knute Rockne, Notre Dame Head Football Coach, 1918-1930.