Oftentimes we are assigned a team; but sometimes, we are blessed enough to draft our own team. Regardless, we’ve all asked ourselves: “Do I have the right team?” Or the question I think we’re really asking is: “Am I on a winning team?”
I like to believe that I can work with anyone. The more diverse the team — especially from a background perspective — the better. When I think about what it means to be on the right team versus the wrong team, I typically consider how the team members work with others and together, rather than focusing on their individual skill sets.
Currently, I’m re-reading Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It’s an awesome reminder of the key ingredients needed for a winning team: trust, constructive debate, commitment on group decisions, ability to hold each other accountable, and the desire to focus on team success over personal status and ego.
You may notice that none of these are about systems expertise or content knowledge. Yes, those things are important, but for many initiatives, expertise is the price of admission.
If you want to see a team go up in flames, let there be a pervasive lack of trust or a team of individuals only focused on how they can shine on their own — that’s a guarantee for disaster.
So, how do you get your team off to the right start so that you are not derailed by dysfunction? Talk about it. Talk about the type of culture that you want the team to have. Solicit feedback from the team members. Be explicit about your expectations. If you find that there is a team member that cannot work within the established rules, quickly determine if it makes sense to replace them.
The most impactful tool you have on a project is the synergy of the team. Do not allow it to be derailed.
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