A great idea, without a great team, isn’t enough to build a successful company. The most successful entrepreneurs build a team of talented people and lead them in ways that allow the team to shine.
There are important things entrepreneurs should do to help a team to succeed: empower people to make decisions, encourage people to solve problems and not worry about revenue projections and profits, don’t micro-manage, celebrate success, remove bureaucracy.
But what makes a team great?
There’s a wonderful story about an anthropologist who proposed a game to children in an African tribe. He put sweet fruits in a basket near a tree and told the kids that whoever ran to the basket first would get all the fruit.
When the anthropologist yelled “Go!”, the children held each other’s hands and ran to the basket as a group. Then they shared the candy with each other.
The anthropologist was surprised. He asked the children why they ran together, when any one of them could have won and taken all the sweet fruits for themselves.
A young girl answered simply: “Ubuntu. How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?”
UBUNTU in the Xhosa culture means “I am because we are”. Desmond Tutu explains:
Africans have a thing called ubuntu. It is about the essence of being human, it is part of the gift that Africa will give the world. It embraces hospitality, caring about others, being willing to go the extra mile for the sake of another. We believe that a person is a person through other persons, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanize you, I inexorably dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. Therefore you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging.
Back to the question I posed above: what makes a team great?
The most important thing a leader can and should do is to encourage real teamwork. It’s impossible for people to come together as a team unless you clearly show them why it’s important to do so and set an expectation from the start. Successful teams don’t just happen by fiat – they’re nurtured. Encourage teamwork through feedback, recognition, conversation, you reward systems, and in any other way you can. Happiness is helping.
My team at crowdSPRING is much stronger – and can accomplish far more – when each person puts the success of the team ahead of their own personal gain.
Create a culture of ubuntu and you’ll empower your teams to succeed beyond your wildest dreams. When people put the good of the team ahead of their own personal gain, great things can happen.