I recall listening raptly to a speech by a prominent senior female executive early in my career. One statement she made stuck with me over the years. “If you are going to spend time away from your kids, make sure it is doing something you love with people you care about.” I also heard a related comment later, “We spend much time selecting who we will date or marry. But we rarely dedicate time to choose who we work with, even though we often spend more time with them.”
I admit I generally was more focused on my role versus the team I was joining until the last decade. I was asked recently to describe the best team I had ever been on and what made it great. Each meeting participant was asked to do the same. As we went around the table, I heard common themes emerge. For me, my best team was one where I hired every member of the team. A number of years back, I was asked to take on a role which required crafting a strategy and building a team from scratch for a key effort.
What was it that makes that team special? I wanted to understand as an intellectual exercise. But I also want to know for the very practical reason that I wanted to recreate the magic of a synergistic group as I move to other roles. I was amazed at how much could be accomplished with joy in the process and the people. I came away with a list of traits I now seek when I choose those to spend time with when I am not with my beloved family:
Top Five Individual Qualities
First, they are irrational optimistic. They believe it can be done. In the face of obstacles, they persevere because they know the solution is out there.
Second, they are secure individuals who enjoy collaboration. They understand much more can be done together when credit is not an issue. They work to bring out the best in and learn from each other.
Third, they are a good balance of the analytical left brain and creative right brain. They can dig into the details and measure success. But they can also create a compelling vision that inspires, and sell it.
Fourth, they are hungry and impatient. They never think we are moving fast enough. They are owners, willing to do whatever it takes, with no ego involved.
Fifth, they embrace that what they are doing matters and want to make a positive impact. They look at their role as a type of calling rather than a job.
Top Five Team Qualifications:
First, the group is bonded and cheer each individual as well as team success. They share trust and support each other's priorities outside the office, especially ones related to family.
Second, the group allows everyone to work in the way that suits them; no judgment. They do it with consideration for what is ultimately best for each member and the whole.
Third, thegroup celebrates diversity and has a lot of it in all forms: male and female, ages, backgrounds, cultures, experience, views, abilities and strengths.
Fourth, a sense of joint ownership runs through the group. They embrace the ideal they only win as a team and any failure is shared. They have a single minded focus on achieving a common vision.
Fifth, the group knows how to have fun, and to enjoy the process and each other. They take pressure off as well as share the load and laughs frequently.
Thank you to this amazing team for teaching me some powerful lessons and for joining me on this journey. I hope some of us find ourselves on another team together down the road. Thank you to the teams since that have shared many of these qualities.
And I hope those reading, and my kids when it is their turn, get a chance to participate in this type of synergy in action.