Strategy

1st August 2019

“How to build an ‘A’ Team”

The Seven Attributes of The CEO

#5

The fifth of the seven attributes of the CEO is an obvious one. So obvious in fact that you may call it a statement of the obvious, but the fact that it is obvious doesn’t make it any less important or any less elusive.

The fifth attribute is the ability to build an ‘A’ Team. ‘Well of course’ I hear you say, we know that. Yes you do, but can you do it? I have found it takes a rare combination of skills, that few possess and only a very very few ever try to develop. And remember all of the attributes that I am listing are eminently learnable.

In my book, the ability to build an ‘A’ Team is about finding and keeping the right people, and also about developing them so that they grow so the business can grow.

Core Values

An ‘A’ player is someone who not only performs at a consistently high level, but one who does so in accordance with the firm’s core values. So an ‘A’ Player is more than just a consistently high performer but one who ‘gets’ what we, as a company, are all about; who believes the same things that we do are important and who lives those values insistently, persistently and consistently. Clearly in order to decide we have to understand what our core values are.

More than that, a team is always more than the sum of its parts, so we need to be aware of how people operate together and as the CEO we need to be the person that holds this all together and enables true teamwork to happen.

Understanding Teamwork

So as CEO we also need to understand teamwork, how it happens and how it grows. We need to understand what will foster teamwork and what will kill it and we need to nurture it like a mother nurtures her offspring, for nothing will multiply human effort and ability like effective teamwork will.

The great CEO will be able to develop a team into a high performing team, which is where the real benefits of teamwork start to accrue. And suddenly it doesn’t seem so simple and straightforward now, does it.

When I think of all the teams I have been a part of, very few have been ‘A’ Teams. The great football manager Alex Ferguson and the great basketball coach are all the more remarkable for there ability to produce truly great sports teams season after season for a considerable time. There have been many good managers who could, from time to time produce a great team, but these two are in a different class when you think about their consistency over time. But this does indicate that there are patterns at work and learning what makes, develops and keeps a great team great would be a sound investment of any aspiring CEO’s time.

Above all, a modern business is a team game. Great leaders are made, not born so I urge you to learn the skills you need to be part of a great team and to develop a great team.