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Building a good team is both science and art. You need to know the science behind the qualities it takes for individuals to perform roles. And you need to master the art of blending those individuals into an ever-moving, evolving and growing entity: a team.
Some people will say it’s all about getting the best people. I'm here to tell you that just getting the best people does not build a team. In fact, it will destroy a team unless those people are the best at specific roles. I've been lucky enough to observe many different teams and be part of many different teams. Some have failed, some have succeeded.
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I believe all successful teams have four key elements. The teams that don't have at least these four elements are at a disadvantage. They have a hard time excelling and often fail to reach their potential or fail completely. Fill these four key roles and your team will have a chance at being great.
1.The general warrior.
You can't just show up from Harvard and be the general warrior. I've had bosses like that and they are awful. They might be smart, but they don't have the experience to lead and inspire. The general warrior has been there. They understand what their troops are doing because they’ve experienced it. They have been in the trenches, killed with their bare hands and will do it again if duty calls. They have worked on projects all night, made sales calls and developed innovative ideas to solve problems. They have overcome challenges, faced unsolvable issues and found a way to continue. The general warrior has a certain quality that inspires people to follow them to the ends of the earth. They believe in themselves and their team, and that belief infects them all. When this general warrior says you can do something that is impossible, you believe them. You can have a good team without a general warrior, but you will not have a great team.
2.The coronel grunt.
Every general needs a second in command to drive the battle plan forward. The coronel grunt leads their men and women forward, executing the plan and devastating their enemies. The general needs the ability to observe the execution of his plan, study it and make adjustments as necessary. Without a capable second-in-command to help him with execution, the job can be overwhelming even to the most capable of leaders. The coronel grunt might be the vice president of sales who is on the ground working with the team and getting feedback from the field. They might be the chief operating officer who executes the details of daily operations and knows what is working or not. The second-in-command will see things the general has missed and step in to help lead. The coronel grunt is an invaluable and trusted confidant. They give the general someone to lean on when needed.
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3.The determined sergeant.
The determined sergeant holds the crew together. When the general is out of ideas and the coronel grunt shuts down, the determined sergeant will ensure the team stays strong. This is the person who works harder than anyone else. They maximize their talent and impact on the team. Everyone else looks to them when the going gets tough because they are the person who is going to fight harder than everyone else. They work long hours, stay positive and have the ability to lift everyone up. They are beloved because they are not just in it for themselves; they are in it for the team. The determined sergeant might be a strong middle manager, an office manager or just that person everyone in the office likes. But they are the glue and the backbone that holds the team together when everything is going wrong.
4.The devoted soldier.
Every army needs soldiers. You need soldiers who are open to learning and put their cynicism aside to truly believe in something. You need to find people who fit your office culture. You also need to build an office culture that fits the people who make your team successful. Find people who are willing to not just work for you, but who are also willing to open up and believe in you, your team and the company. Find people who are willing to learn and grow. Find people who are not too cynical to believe in creating something great. Find people who believe that their efforts matter. Find people that work hard not because you tell them to, but because they want to be the best.
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You can build a good company without all of these types working for you. You might have a very successful company regardless of who you have in these roles. Dysfunctional teams and companies have gone on to make lots of money. However, if you want to fully realize your potential, go as far as you can and do things no one expected you to do, you’re going to need a great team. And while there are other roles than these that come into play, these four roles are the foundation and can make the difference between good and great.