Create Better Teams


As I write in my book, “The Art of Principled Entrepreneurship”, work is a uniquely human activity. And when we do it right, we not only make more but we become more. This is true not only for us individually, but also for us as a team. When a team is “complementary”, that is to say, everyone is talented where someone else has a “non-talent”, then things become miraculous. This is when things click and 1+1 suddenly becomes three, four, or even five! 

Investing in the human person is the only opportunity for us to make an investment with the possibility for infinite returns. When we invest in teams, the results can be astonishing. I wish for everyone to experience a well functioning, “complementary” team at least once. It is like magic. 

Here are a few ideas that can help us create an opportunity for such a team to form:

  1. Start to introduce the terms “Talent” and “Non-Talent.” If we want to create complementary teams, we need to match strengths with weaknesses. However, those terms are not conducive to teamwork. Talking about talents and non-talents allows us to objectively talk about where we can help one another. 
  2. Be the first to use these terms and define your talents and non-talents with your team. I like to do this at various points/events depending on the company I’m in. It’s easiest if we introduce this language during the interview process. It can also be used to replace the review process, in team meetings, or during one-on-one conversations. The key is for the person with seniority to model it first and display vulnerability with it. 
  3. Go ahead and define your talents and non-talents. Start a list and then ask around. You’ll be surprised at the self-learning this will cause. When asking for feedback, I usually start with my family, then move onto friends and the teams of which I am a part.
  4. Once you have introduced the concept and everyone has a good understanding of everyone’s talents and non-talents, start to put groups together based on these insights. Think of it like “circling the wagons” where everyone has an area of focus that adds up to total security, or like a sports team where every position is occupied by the best possible player for it. Then when you interview for new team members, you will know quickly who fits the team and who doesn’t. 

After you implement these three ideas, sit back and watch the miracle happen. This is a process that focuses on each individual team member and then the whole. Because of that, there is no “one” answer to how this works and not a “single” constellation that works. It’s not a science. It’s the ART of Principled Entrepreneurship. When a team is made up of folks who get to focus on their strengths and are “shielded” by others in their weaknesses, you get scalability and create enduring value! 

Thanks for reading – I look forward to your feedback!