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Build Your A-Team!
Being a son of the 80’s, yeah I admitted it, I remember watching the A-Team. This ragtag bunch of action heroes who could always pull together to get the job done even under the most unfavorable conditions. The theme song, the crazy plans, the mohawk, the A-Team. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an A-Team we could depend on, not to break someone out of a nursing home or defuse a bomb, but to help us reach our goals?
There is an African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together.” If you’re trying to accomplish the impossible you’re going to need some help along the way. Success is a team sport! Consider any great, notable, or successful person and you will see someone who has an “A-Team” working with them.
Some people learned early on that in order to achieve big goals they needed to have the right people on their team. For too many of us, we have adopted “the rugged individualist” approach to success and struggled because of it, because success is really a team sport.
If success is a team sport, then it matters who you have on your team. Whether you’re an entrepreneur trying to launch a business or a manager trying to meet a deadline, your team matters. Let’s put together a list of traits your A-Team member should have.
Top 5 Character Traits of A-Team members
What qualifies a person for your A-Team? As far as technical qualifications, only you can answer that. But when it comes to character and work ethic there are some elements that are non-negotiable. I hear people make excuses for people on their teams: “he’s really not that bad”, or “she’s just a little rough around the edges.”
When you find yourself consistently explaining bad behavior by some of your team members you know this isn’t an A-Team caliber person. You should look for people that are:
Positive tops the list because let’s be honest, no one really likes to be around negative people for too long. A positive person can find one or two solid reasons an idea can work while a negative person can produce 1000 reasons why something won’t work. In general positive people tend to make better teammates. Someone who’s looking for the bright side is far less likely to bring drama and discord into the team. That’s a good thing.
2. Doers not Talkers
There is a Negro Spiritual that says “ev’rybody talkin ’bout heav’n ain’t going there.” The same thing goes for success. There are a lot of people talking about their goals but not moving toward them; talking about success but not trying to achieve it. While it is incredibly important to discuss goals and to dream about success the more worthy aspiration is to go after those goals and work hard to realize your success.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Well Done, is better than well said.” I’ve had discussions with people who wanted to justify just talking and never doing, but I couldn’t go disagree with them more. You need action heroes on your A-Team. People you can trust to get the job done with little to no supervision. Surround yourself with people who can get the job done.
3. High standard of integrity
This is another non-negotiable. Why stress yourself out by involving people that you can’t trust? There are some things that can be coached and improved and there are some things that you either have or you don’t. Integrity is one of those things.
Why bring people into your team that you wouldn’t bring into your home? Life is just a bit too short to deal with unethical people if you can avoid it. A-Team members will be above board and they will encourage others to be honest as well.
I dealt with how trust impacts leadership here.
4. Skilled where you aren’t
One of the major reasons for the team is that you don’t have every skill necessary to achieve your objectives and goals. If you could do it all, why would you need a team? Isn’t that why Batman goes solo? (RIP Robin) So you will bring in people who are strong where you are weak.
You want to align yourself with people whose skill sets cover your blind spots. When this happens there will be a wonderful symbiotic relationship. Your strengths will then offset their weaknesses just as theirs do yours. Big picture people need detail oriented team mates just like high energy people need more methodical team mates.
5. Striving for Excellence
This may been implied, but I want to make sure it is explicit: “A-Team” members strive for excellence. They’re not looking for perfection, there grounded enough to know that nobody is perfect, but they throw themselves entirely into their tasks. You know people like this, people who raise the bar on their performance and make those around them better. People who seem to always do more than is asked for in less time than is given. They don’t settle for substandard results but have a way of coaxing excellence out of everyone around them.
BONUS: Balanced Lives
These people know when to go home for the night. They are dedicated to their families and/or have lives outside of work. These are people who know success isn’t just calculated by what they have but by the lives they have impacted and the depth of their friendships. These are people who won't miss a soccer game but still meet their deadlines. Having this balance makes them more valuable to the team.
These are some of the primary traits I look for when building my “A-Teams”. You want to find positive people who work and don’t just talk. You need people who have high personal standards of integrity and bring skills to the table that elevate the entire team. Lastly, you need people who are not willing to settle for less than excellence and lead balanced lives. The question is do they exist or are they just mythical creatures of the business world?
You might enjoy succeeding at work without failing at home for more discussion on work/life balance.
Don't settle for less than excellence.
These are my top five quality traits for A-Team players, what are yours?
Until next time,
Make today count!