If you want to build an empowered team that collaborates seamlessly, you can’t just throw people together and hope for the best. It requires intention, effort, and commitment to principles that leading experts like Patrick Lencioni, John G. Miller, and Ken Blanchard have honed.
In this post, I’ll share the techniques that have helped thousands of business owners like yourself hire effectively, align team strengths, foster accountability, and empower your team to accomplish more together than you ever could as individuals.
Hire for Cultural Fit to Build Your Dream Team
In their book Who, Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a systematic approach to hiring they call Topgrading. Key elements include:
Avoiding "voodoo hiring" mistakes like over-relying on resumes, credentials, and unstructured interviews.
Creating scorecards that outline the must-have outcomes needed for each role. Candidates are scored quantitatively against this role profile.
Assessing competencies for "A players" like efficiency, honesty/integrity, persistence, proactivity, attention to detail, etc.
Conducting chronological interviews to deeply probe past job performance and behaviors.
Thoroughly checking references rather than just accepting resumes at face value.
Having a clear, executable, and repeatable hiring process - the Topgrading Interview Roadmap.
This structured, metrics-driven approach minimizes bias and identifies candidates who will excel in and fit the role, not just those who interview well. Implementing Topgrading can help managers avoid hiring mistakes and build stronger, more cohesive teams.
Discover Your Team’s Working Genius
At this point, you are probably familiar with assessments and maybe even tired of them. Well, I want to introduce one more that you may not be familiar with and why it’s better than Meyer’s Briggs, DISC, Enneagram, Strength’s Finders, etc, for work. It’s called The 6 Types of Working Genius. Working Genius takes a more well-rounded, work-specific approach encompassing natural talents, learned skills, and motivations. It aims to identify the optimal intersection and alignment of these factors to assign complementary team roles. While the other models provide helpful self-awareness, Patrick Lencioni argues they don't focus enough on applying findings to build cohesive teams, which is the ultimate goal of Working Genius.
The 6 Types of Working Genius are:
Each member of your team will have two of these genius types show up as their specific Working Genius, Working Competency, and Working Frustration.
Here are three easy steps to get started with Working Genius.
Have your team take the Working Genius assessment.
Help team members understand their genius unique pairings and frustrations.
As much as you can, align roles to maximize strengths and avoid areas of frustration.
Once roles are aligned to members’ Working Genius, teams can collaborate seamlessly with employees in positions that leverage their strengths. Lencioni emphasizes that many organizational problems arise when managers ignore working genius and put people into roles not suited to how they are innately wired. Taking the time to properly assess and arrange team members based on their genius profiles is crucial for building a dream team.
Promote Personal Accountability by Asking “What Can I Do?”
John G. Miller’s popular book QBQ: The Question Behind the Question teaches that when things go wrong, asking, “Who’s fault is this?” or “Why doesn’t our team have more help?” leads to blame, complaining, and paralysis.
The most empowering questions have a different focus - “What can I do right now to improve this situation?” This kind of mentality promotes personal responsibility rather than finger-pointing. Here are some ways to implement it:
Lead by example. When problems arise, ask, “What can I do to resolve this faster?” rather than blaming your boss, vendors, or circumstance. Employees follow your cue.
In one-on-ones, ask about lessons learned from failures, not just successes. Guide teammates to assess their own contributions without shaming them.
Celebrate collective wins, and accept collective losses. Don’t single out individuals unless you are praising their exemplary initiative.
Set metrics for team accountability like customer satisfaction or sales targets. If the team succeeds or falls short together, they will take ownership of collective results.
Research shows companies with a strong culture of accountability are more likely to exceed revenue targets. But enacting QBQ requires patience. Employees may initially resist taking ownership. Lead the culture shift by modeling accountability yourself.
Empower Your Team Through Servant Leadership
Ken Blanchard famously said, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” This perfectly sums up servant leadership. Rather than dictating tactics, servant leaders set the destination and empower their team to choose the path. They coach, facilitate, and clear obstacles.
Some tips for leading like a servant:
Clarify goals and responsibilities, but don’t micromanage how they execute projects.
Offer encouragement and praise. Critique in private.
Develop team capabilities through mentoring and training opportunities.
Ask for input when considering changes. Employees support what they help shape.
Be the culture you want by modeling integrity, accountability, and positivity daily.
By embracing Blanchard's servant leadership mentality of empowering teams, facilitating their work, and leading by example, managers can foster an environment where employees feel trusted, engaged, and motivated to do their best work collectively.
Putting It All Together
Building a winning team culture takes intention and commitment, but the payoff is immense. By hiring for cultural fit, aligning team members’ strengths, promoting personal accountability over blame, and leading through service and empowerment, you can foster a team that collaborates seamlessly. Teammates will complement each other, take ownership of results, and feel trusted to execute the company's vision. The outcome is a team that taps into its full potential and achieves exponentially more together than any individual could alone. If you commit to these proven culture-building principles, you can assemble your very own dream team.
Which of these team culture principles resonated most with you? I challenge you to pick one tip to implement in the next month. Please share your experiences and any questions you have with our team.