It’s all about the team work

18th August 2016

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Last night I watched the UK Women’s Olympic hockey team defeat a feisty and belligerent New Zealand outfit – a win based, not on individual brilliance, but on a stout yet defiant exhibition of teamwork. A number of them were carried off during the game for literally ‘taking one for the team’ in the form of a hockey ball or an opponent’s knee to the face. Earlier on in the summer I was equally impressed by the so-called lesser footballing nations of Iceland and Wales defeating bigger and richer teams with bloody minded defences, not-a-little skill and an overwhelming team ethic.

Business and sporting comparisons have provided a deep well of anecdotal material for many years. There is a very good reason for this and that is that the best and most successful sporting and business organisations (large and small) have the best teams, management and coaches. One of the main criticisms of the Wales football team, prior to Euro 16, was that is was a one man team – the comprehensive defeat of the Belgians in the quarter finals soon put paid to that fallacy. Gareth Bale barely touched the ball during the match despite playing a significant part.

So what as all this to do with running and scaling your own early stage organisation. Simply this – you just cannot do it on your own! Every successful CEO that I have worked with has shared the load somehow. No business man or woman is an island and the ability to recruit and build successful teams has been a cornerstone of their success. Unless you have a rounded management team your chances of success will be very limited and your personal pressure cooker will reach explode before you know it.

So, what should you look for in your management team? All businesses work in a similar way – they make something and they sell it (hopefully for a profit) – so you need to get yourself experienced directors/managers who have had senior experience in the domain in which you operate e.g. if you are in cyber security do not recruit an NED who has only had experience of the retail space – however successful they might have been. In the short and medium term it will save you much in blood,sweat and tears to get the right person on the job. Secondly get team members that can add real value – there are plenty of seasoned ‘day-raters’ out there who will be only too happy to dispense wisdom for substantial fees. Please resist the urge to recruit management team members on the strength of a CV that is outmoded and out-dated (however impressive) – if they cannot add regular value to your business just politely decline. Lastly and quintessentially your management should represent your own values of honesty and integrity. They should have impeccable standards and values, which will only reflect positively onto your business. Take your time in recruiting your team even when you think you there is none – it’s much easier to be diligent whilst you are enlisting than to correct a mistake once you have made it.

No me in team