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Leadership Lesson #1: Get the Right People on the Team

Leadership Lesson #1 | by George Virtue, CPA, CA, Managing Partner

Get the Right People on the Team

Over the years, I have worked with various businesses, sports teams and community Boards. Some were incredibly effective while others just did not seem to be able to achieve much of anything at all. I have been a member of a partnership that was dysfunctional and I have been, and still am, a member of a partnership that works together as a highly productive team. I have helped curling teams develop their strategic plan and I have seen some succeed and others fall flat. And I have been privileged to lead Boards that made a significant impact in our community.

So what have I learned from these experiences?  What is that secret ingredient that makes a great team?  Simply put, if you want to have a great team, you need to start with the right people.

Two of my favorite leadership books have influenced my thinking in this area. Jim Collins in Good to Great suggests that you need to get the “right people on the bus” before you decide where the bus is going. Equally important, and perhaps more challenging, is to get the wrong people “off the bus”. David Maister in True Professionalism talks about the power of Dynamos and the negative impact on personal and team performance when team members start to become Cruisers.

The right people are passionate and committed; they are people that want to excel and are willing to do what it takes to succeed; they are accountable and are willing to hold others accountable; they are Dynamos, not Cruisers or Losers.

Organizations often blame their lack of success on poor strategy, tough competition or bad luck. Yet, in my experience a poorly constructed team is often at the core of this underperformance. I am always amazed how many “losers” are retained on teams because it would be uncomfortable to address the conflict of trying to change.

So this lesson is really pretty simple. If you have the luxury of starting from scratch, invest an excessive amount of time in recruiting the best team that you can before you start. Choose team members that share your vision and your passion, choose team members that you can count on to put the team first. Do not settle for “good enough”. Build an exceptional team and success will follow.

If you are leading a team that is struggling to achieve results, don’t blame the economy - think about whether you have the right people on the team and whether you have some “wrong” people on the team. And then do something about it!  Invest in training and development, coach for success, inspire your team … and be prepared to make tough decisions to get the wrong people “off the bus”.


Click here for a downloadble PDF of Leadership Lesson #1: Get the Right People on the Team

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