There’s no ‘I’ in Team!

 When we are interviewed, we are all asked about  teamwork and the part we play in it, but what about  building a team around us? I have an incredible team,  which I have built over the years. They have a fantastic  ability at making me look good as well as doing their job  outstandingly well. This has not happened out of luck,  but more out of design.




It is said that we recruit people in our own likeness and I recognised this from an early stage, so I tried to ensure that I didn’t do this when I recruited, instead I tried to ensure I recruited on the attributes that would be best to build the team around me.  This is when I discovered Belbin and his description of the different attributes certain types of individual can bring to a team, and began to surreptitiously tease out the typical behavioural and interpersonal strengths of the individuals who I might want to have working in the teams around me.  In small teams, it might be that individuals have several of these attributes, but it is extraordinary to see how the dynamics of the team work and how productive the team can be when you bring them together. The challenge is to identify the individual’s characteristics and how they could bring strength to your team. Personally, I look at the major role the team should be completing and then try to fit the individual characteristics within that team; the table below is an example.














However, this is all well and good, but without good leadership the teams will not be effective or efficient.  Whilst we may profess to being outstanding leaders, do we have any followers?  There are some simple rules that I believe we should abide by to motivate and build effective teams: 

  • Get to know your team – In my blog on emotional intelligence I discussed the theories of Goleman who states that managers who do not develop emotional intelligence have difficulty in building good relationships with peers, subordinates, superiors and clients.  He goes on to stress the importance of empathy and the awareness of the needs and feelings of others both individually and in groups, and being able to see things from their point of view.  Therefore, a key area to ensuring we build and motivate good teams is by the use of emotional intelligence.
  • Being self-aware – Are you a good leader/team player?  Are your styles and techniques as effective as you may think they are?  How well are the techniques, systems (and you) accepted by the team?  Maybe we need to take a close look at ourselves when we are trying to build an effective team and instead of blaming the team, is it us if it is failing?Feedback – Is your feedback proactive or reactive?  Do not wait for a problem to occur to give feedback; the art of good communication is to have a natural dialogue, which is constant.  My preference is for the feedback to be informal otherwise it is too structured and timetabled, which loses impact.  You should see proactive feedback as the team’s greatest enabler and remember it is two-way!

  • Roles and responsibilities – This does not mean ‘Job Description’!  The roles and responsibilities could be defined by the task in hand and can be driven by the Belbin attribute they have.  I find it best to ‘talent spot’, this may mean that an individual may be more suited to a different task than the one they are currently doing within the team.  It is your job, as the leader, to identify this and to build on individuals strengths.
  • Acknowledge – We all thrive on positive recognition, therefore in your feedback ensure you acknowledge and reward, even if they are ‘doing their job’.  Remember, when individuals are acknowledged their work gives them more satisfaction and their role has more purpose.
  • Celebrate success! - This goes beyond acknowledgment, it is about taking a step-back and reflecting on what has been accomplished and learned through the process.  Celebration is a short-lived activity, do not ignore it.  Take the time to live in the moment and remember who allowed you to cross the finish line.

Picking up on a quote from Babe Ruth, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”  Therefore, build your team, develop, invest and nurture them and they will reward you in spades!


By Russell Dalton - 07 August 2017