As the founder of what is turning out to be a “fast growth startup” ClicksAndLeads.com, I sometimes stop and wonder how great teams – the ones that developed innovative products and services, came into being. More to the point, when recruiting, how do you bring great talents together, making sure they work together as one, without stepping on each other’s egos?
As a restless entrepreneur myself, who is never able to fully commit to someone else’s project, I’m amazed how some companies retain the same core managers over years, no temptations to jump into another boat or to go find fame and success as an independent entrepreneur.
And that’s when I realised that there must be some invisible ties that keep people together in a team, in the same way a happy family stays together. Not got much experience of that either, so I feel a bit on the back foot all round!
Going more in depth with my analysis, I may have found what these ties are, and how you can cultivate them, too.
1. Know Your Leadership Style
Every leader has something special – you just need to recognise your “leader’s superpower” and then find the people who best respond to your style and brand of special skills. Once you know exactly what makes you a leader, you’ll need to find people that are drawn to the same leadership style as you display.
For instance, if you are informal and like working virtually, you will not resonate well with people coming out of, and needing, the support of a corporate culture. My advice is to make sure you find people with whom you can make a beautiful choir, not a group of soloists where each one sings their disparate parts.
I know quite a lot more about myself nowadays due to having done quite a bit of therapy earlier in my life, being an avid reader of books like “Driven” and “Willpower”, and also having done a fair few Skills and Personality tests – like Roger Hamilton’s “Wealth Dynamics” test (fastest route to the money) and the Kolbe A test (how you like to take action).
A great book on Leadership, and how that applies to leading and melding together the natural “tribes” that form in organisations – both horizontally and vertically – is “Great Boss Dead Boss”, by Ray Immelman. It starts off a bit strange, but settles down after the first few pages into a practical and engaging read for anyone thrust into a leadership position, or struggling to pull a team together.
2. Know Your Team
Thinking back over all your past colleagues, who made a good strategist? Who loved talking blue sky? Who was great at creating systems “E-Myth Revisited” style (but never followed them for long!). And who was a stellar salesperson? If you do not have an answer on the spot, then you do not really know those people, and it’s essential that you know your team’s core strengths.
What happens if you recruit and then delegate the wrong responsibilities to the wrong people? Aaron Ross, author of “Traction”, calls it getting the “right people in the right seat”, avoiding the “right people in the wrong seat”, and getting rid of the “wrong people in any seat”.
3. Set the Right Roles for the Right People
When everybody does what they’re best at, exercising their core strengths and not trying to compensate for their weaknesses, everyone is happy and the team is strong. Therefore, your role as leader is all about identifying the precise “superpower” talent of each team member and letting him or her shine in the right role. At the same time, treat your team as a puzzle. Each piece fits in with others around it. Similarly, each member of your team needs to interact and work with the others, share duties and responsibilities, and shout when something isn’t working.
4. Give Feedback…On Time
You are not sparing anyone’s feelings if you do not share your praise, concerns, and regular feedback with your team. Equally, it should be a safe space for them to do the same with you AND their colleagues. The book “Traction”, by Aaron Ross, shares some useful templates for agendas to use in the right kind of regular meetings, be it daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Go to the website and download them – or simply buy the book and discover some great ways to create the right culture in your startup.
There is no point in ending up making a sweeping retrospective of mistimed decisions and errors at the point when you inform a team member that you have to let them go. Maybe, if feedback had been more forthcoming and transparent, both ways, that person could then have corrected the errors, changed their behaviour, and/ or become more results-oriented if there had been a good system.
In his excellent book “E-Myth Revisited”, Michael Gerber says that “everyone does the best they can, in the absence of a good system” and I really believe that is true.
And now, because it’s great to save the best for last…
5. Share Every Success with Your Team
It’s not enough to pat them on the shoulder and tell them “good job”. Find out what would be a meaningful celebration for each of them.
Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth Manager” has some thought provoking insights into what really motivates people. It might be that you take them out for a celebratory dinner, or give them a bonus or a present that actually means something to them; and give each of them due credit as the success happens. Let them feel that they really are a core part of the breakthrough you have all just achieved.
It is a short lived moment, before the daily business grind starts again. But we all live for these moments, because they make all our efforts worthwhile.