People say it’s all about the team. You will hear that often. Many leaders focus on getting the best talent, but the quality of each individual doesn't automatically translate to the quality of the whole team. There is a difference between having a team of all-stars and having an all-star team. There are many success factors for creating an all-star team who can consistently execute. But I believe the two most important are having team members with diverse perspectives and the ability to effectively collaborate.
Teams are constantly faced with challenging problems to solve. The key is not just solving them but getting to the best solutions. That’s why having people on the team who bring different experiences, perspectives, and approaches usually yield better outcomes. They analyze the issue differently. Studies featured by McKinsey and Co, Harvard Business Review and Forbes, all highlight this importance.
Yet, if the team assembled can’t effectively collaborate, they won’t be effective. In AMERICAN ICON by Bryce G. Hoffman, it wasn’t until Alan Mulally, who was brought in as CEO to save the Ford Motor Company, created a collaborative environment in the senior executive ranks, that he believed he could save the company. Trust, accountability and psychological safety, which is an environment where coworkers are comfortable giving frank feedback, making mistakes and taking interpersonal risks, are all necessary for collaboration. The problems at Ford were just too big to resolve if the team wasn’t working together.
When I was CEO of MetricStream, the only reason we survived the 2008 financial crisis was the strength and collaboration of our team. We had very little financial capital, so the speed of selling, delivering and collecting from our customers was critical. We had no time for friction between organizations to slow us down. Leaders had to trust that requests and priorities coming from other teams were real and critical. Problem-solving likewise had to be quick. We were racing against the clock….and we made it.
You can’t wait until the crisis to build the right team, teamwork, and collaborative environment. As a leader, it needs to be a constant focus.
*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.
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