What teams need

In a few weeks I’ll be launching a new project that’s far different from anything I’ve done to date. To be completely honest, it might not work. But that’s the risk you take when you’re daring to be great.

So far, the process has been fun and rewarding because of the team that’s assembled to get this baby off the ground. Even though we’ve not yet pressed “go,” everyone has filled roles and worked diligently to give us the best start possible.

Teams are fascinating to me.

I’ve been a member of many teams through the years, both in sports and in business. I don’t claim to be an expert in startup-team-building (yet), but I’ve learned a few things while leading teams in successful product launches, marketing campaigns and even a National Championship. Of course, I’ve also been the lead on ventures that failed too. Looking back now, those experiences provided the most education.

Teams that win do so for various reasons, be it talent, culture, coaching, work ethic, etc. However, I’ve observed teams need to possess the following three elements to win:

1. Everyone needs a wingman

Successful teams from every arena have an experienced veteran who brings out the best in his/her teammates. Like Goose to Maverick, Sam to Frodo, Bean to Ender or Chewy to Solo, wingmen(or wingwomen) stand in the gap and always have your back. They’re smart, skilled and above all, loyal. They’re able to transfer confidence to the team and to you when it’s needed most.

2. Create a “have fun and win” atmosphere

Atmosphere is an invisible force that lifts or crushes a team. In my experience, it’s always better to keep it “serious-fun”. This means we take our work seriously, but not ourselves. This promotes personal responsibility and having fun. If the atmosphere is right, a team will achieve peak performance.

3. Unity

Inspiration, energy and collective responsibility are just a few of the byproducts of unity. A team acting as one is always more powerful than a group of individuals. Of the three elements mentioned here, this one is the most important. If unity is present, the other two take care of themselves. Think about a fist. Five fingers held tightly together are stronger and more effective than five fingers stretched out separately.

Every team is different.

All this said, one thing to remember is all teams are different. There is no cookie-cutter approach to team building that will work 100% of the time. However, these three “needs” were met in every winning team I’ve played on or worked with.

As I move forward with the team assembled for my new project, it is exciting to see things start to shape up. There’s a wingman or two, we’re having fun and are unified around a purpose.

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