To build a great company, we need to understand how to build a great team because without them we will be hard-pressed to get beyond first stage growth.

The greatest leaders have always ascribed their success to their team. Listen to a few famous quotes from some well-known leaders:

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” 

—Michael Jordan

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

—Booker T. Washington

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

—Henry Ford

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

— Isaac Newton

It’s fascinating that when I consider all of the clients I have consulted and coached, without question, the most successful were those that took a significant amount of time encouraging their team and continuously asking for their customers’ advice. Our firm conducts organizational 360’s for many different types of clients. Without question, those with the highest effectiveness and performance scores have a highly focused team whose efforts are well-aligned and coordinated throughout their organization. Whereas those that operated in silos with little to no regard for the other teams in their organization nearly always score in the lowest two quartiles. 

We have observed that “Stars” on a team typically alienate team members and usually have far shorter tenures with the organization. A “Star” can quickly stir up trouble in the form of envy, resentment and outright resistance within the organization. This puts pressure on the leader who hired the star to referee the tension and no matter who wins — the star or the team — the organization is weakened. 

During the past 50 years, our world has celebrated industry leaders for their major contributions. This is natural that the pr-news cycle would accelerate and exaggerate their accomplishments because it makes great stories. But the truth of it is, without their team, no leader can build a truly successful company. Steve Jobs is acknowledged as a genius and I believe that to be true, but without all of the designers, programmers and managers, Apple never would have become what it is today. 

It’s just downright silly to think one person can build a multi-trillion dollar corporation. Truly great leaders understand this and therefore put enormous energy and resources into building up their team. This is what leads to organizational success, not just one person with a big idea.