"Given the choice, you should invest in an A Team even if they have a B Idea. Because an A Team will adapt and find a way to make that idea a success." Last week, Jeff and I attended StartUp, ScaleUp--an educational and networking event in Cleveland hosted by JumpStart Inc. to inspire entrepreneurs and small business owners. The message above came through loud and clear and I couldn't agree more!
As an HR professional, I've spent a lot of time and energy working with leaders to hire and develop talent at companies like Eaton Corporation and Swagelok. Time after time, I've seen that the best performance comes from teams where the leader is committed to building an "A Team". In my experience, there are a few things that distinguish these teams from others.
"A Teams" are built on a foundation of trust. Members of these teams show mutual respect and a willingness to listen to ideas that are different from their own. These are key ingredients to the team dynamic because they let each person openly share their best ideas when they challenge the status quo. "A Teams" are also open and honest about their goals, what is going well and what needs to change. This transparency lets the team move faster with better information. While respect and honesty may sound very basic, demonstrating these behaviors consistently can be difficult--especially in competitive environments. When leaders are role models for these behaviors, the reward is a team where people can truly do their best work.
"A Teams" actively learn from what they encounter and adjust course as they move forward. Regardless of industry or organization, change is the only constant for many of us. What works today, won't work tomorrow. So teams that are willing and able to turn on a dime are most likely to be successful over time. Each member actively learns and the team has a culture where learning is readily shared. Leaders treat failure as an opportunity to learn and are willing to let go of ideas/projects that aren't working.
"A Teams" don't happen by accident, they are nurtured by leaders. These individuals may be in positions of formal power or they may work behind the scenes to bring the team together. Either way, these leaders are humble enough that they are not threatened by people who are better than them. They willingly put the goals of the group ahead of their own personal ambitions. They give feedback that is both honest and constructive. These leaders are the glue that holds "A Teams" together and keep them moving in a shared direction.
While they do take effort to develop, high-performing teams are fun to watch and even more fun to be a part of. If you have the chance, always bet on the "A Team".
(Closing thought...apologies to those of you who clicked on this blog post hoping for something involving heavy gold chains, mohawks and Mr. T. Stay tuned though, you never know what's coming next. And...I love it when a plan comes together.)
Photo by: Brodie Vissers