When people come together to take on a challenge or accomplish a goal, they form a team. But when people who are willing to become their best selves come together, they forge a best team. A best team is one of the “five bests” (best self, best team, best partner, best investment, and best citizen) described in my newest book, Becoming the Best: Build a World-Class Organization Through Values-Based Leadership.
The journey that begins with becoming your best self continues as values-based individuals create a best team. Members of a best team are self-reflective, understand themselves, and embrace a sense of common purpose. They are committed to the overarching goals of the organization and understand how they contribute (as their best selves and as a best team) to the goal and objectives of the vales-based organization.
On best teams, everyone’s input is valued—even if there is disagreement. There is no benefit to giving in to someone who feels the need to have her way most of the time. Nor will a best team tolerate someone who is not being his best because he is more concerned with being right than discovering the right thing to do.
A critical component of the best team is a strong values-based team leader, who strives to be respected rather than worrying about being liked. The leader understands the critical importance of feedback. Giving open, honest, continuous, and transparent feedback is not simply a good thing to do; it is a moral responsibility to the best team and each of its members. People can only realize their potential when they understand their strengths and their weaknesses.
Best teams are critical at every stage of an organization. With startups, best teams of values-based individuals (who may be performing more than one function) are crucial at the launch of the enterprise and as it scales up in size. For more mature companies, best teams will help anchor values-based leadership. When a turnaround is necessary—correcting a culture that has devolved into dysfunction and in-fighting—the best strategy is to forge a best team across the company, with people who are able to collaborate, cooperate, and challenge each other to their highest levels of creativity and productivity.
One of the challenges of pulling together a best team is that even well-intentioned and hard-working people can focus too narrowly on their own tasks and activities. At times they cannot see how what they do relates to the greater whole of the organization, so they stay in their silos. They don’t see the forest because they get lost in the trees. Maybe they’ve seen a tree or two, but they don’t perceive any forest at all!
On a best team led by a values-based leader, every person sees the forest and understands his or her relationship to the clear, elevating goals of the organization. As each person’s view is expanded, a best team comes together with broader horizons and a deeper sense of purpose.