Super teams are made up of people who have similarity of spirit and diversity of strengths. Diversity of spirit is a recipe for disaster. So how can you build such a team? Let’s explore these themes.
1) You can focus on similarity of spirit.
Get the right people with the right attitude. Start by defining the spirit you want people in the team to demonstrate. Never compromise on spirit – otherwise you will pay a heavy price. One leader said:
“I want people: a) who take responsibility: b) who encourage other team members: c) who are customer focused. Once I hired a potentially brilliant person, but he behaved unprofessionally towards his colleagues. Despite giving him every opportunity to change his attitude, he continued to pursue his own agenda. It took months to repair the damage.”
You may want to involve your team in defining the culture. If so, invite them to tackle the exercise described below. They are to describe the spirit – the attitude and behaviour – they want people in the team to demonstrate. Ask people to give concrete examples about how each quality would be translated into action.
Attitude is non-negotiable, but you want characters, not clones. People will express the team principles in many different ways, but it must always be within certain parameters. Recruit for spirit, then focus on the next step.
2) You can focus on diversity of strengths.
Spirit provides the foundation, but you will need creativity to achieve success. Virginia Satir, a pioneering family therapist, found that healthy families demonstrated two characteristics.
First, they shared common values.
Second, they encouraged people to be different within certain parameters.
Sick families fought over their values and crushed differences. Great teams encourage people to use their talents.
If you managed ABBA, you would encourage Agneta and Frida to sing, Bjorn and Benny to write the songs, not the other way round. If you led a start-up business, you would urge the brilliant sales person to get out on the road to find more customers, not spend 20 hours a week programming computers. Try tackling the following exercise.
3) You can build a team with similarity of spirit and diversity of strengths.
Great teams get the right balance between consistency and creativity. Arnold Toynbee, the historian, believed this was also vital for societies that wished to survive.
They must balance common ethics and creative endeavour. They needed imagination to respond to challenges that threatened their extinction. Looking back at the fall of societies, he wrote:
“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder … Civilizations in decline are constantly characterised by a tendency towards standardization and uniformity.”
So how can you get the right balance in your team? This calls for recruiting team members who are able:
a) To consistently embody the principles you want people to follow.
b) To, when appropriate, express these principles in a creative way.
c) To do whatever is necessary to deliver the required concrete results.
Bearing this in mind, try completing the following sentence.