Professional sports leagues create special event games called All Star Games. They create teams of the best players from their leagues to play a game, show off their talents and sell tickets.
One way or another (by votes of media, players or fans), the players are selected and the game is played. The total assembled talent is always incredible. The resulting team performance however is sometimes a bit underwhelming.
On the surface, one would think that the best player at every position would create the best total team result; but this isn’t always the case. Talent, of course, does matter, but it isn’t the only factor in a team’s success.
Since you are still reading, you might be thinking, what does this really have to do with me, I can’t even pick all of my team to start with? I recognize that it is relatively rare that we get to select our entire team – we take a role and there is an intact team for us to work with. The ideas I am going to share below will still help you with your intact team, but even when this is the case, you will, over time, be adding people to your team.
So how do you create your All-Star Team? Here are six suggestions.
Have clear roles. Make sure you know what roles and tasks need to be done (and even the roles you expect you will need in the future). Make those crystal clear for you and for the entire team. Once people truly understand the roles, they are in a better position to fill them, and even learn new ones.
Have clear skill descriptions. Once the roles are defined, make a skill list. What are the skills you need on your team? What are the skills required for specific roles? Once this is clear between you and your team, you will know what talent you need to add in the future, and which skills to develop and train among the current team.
Find a cultural fit. Some players fit great in one team or system, and not so well in another. Keep your organizational culture in mind when looking to add to your team. Yes, you need skills to fill a role, but you also need someone who can succeed in your environment and your operating style (and your leadership style too).
Consider intangibles. When adding a team member, engage as many current team members as possible in the process. Talent and experience matters, but so do the intangibles. Ask your team what their impressions are and take their voice into account in the selection process. Remember that the “little things” are, in the end, seldom little.
Get everyone on the same page. Make sure all team members (new and existing) are clear on the goals of the team and the larger organization. When people understand and agree with the goals, they are better able to move in the proper direction. It is far better to have above-average players working together than superstars all heading in their own direction.
Remember the relationships. People on your team don’t have to be best friends, but they have to forge working relationships. As a leader, you have a responsibility to provide the time, space, and perhaps even expectation that working relationships matter. There is more to a winning team than strong relationships, but when positive relationships exist, higher productivity will likely ensue.
Your all-star team may not have a superstar at every position, but nurtured correctly, your team can get all-star performance.
And isn’t that the goal anyway?