How to Build a Successful Team

The methods to flood your office with applicants for a job opening are endless. Unfortunately, as many of us know from experience, finding the right employee is not as easy.

In this article, we will cover a fundamental process everyone should complete within their organization to improve success in attracting, recognizing, and acquiring the right members for their team.   

Core Values

Many people, including my former self, hear “core values” and feel a bit too touchy-feely for our liking, but stick with us for what is a crucial step for acquiring the right team and moving them in one direction.

Author and business owner Patrick Lencioni provides great insight on the subject of Core Values in his book “The Ideal Team Player”. We will discuss more on the overall concepts he presents, but in general, his core values provide a shortcut for finding employees with the basic makeup to be ideal team players. They also clarify weakness in your current team to allow development of your organization.

Shared core values in a potential new-hire or employee should be valued over technical skill. In most technical jobs there are multiple ways to complete the work and these can be taught, but if someone is too out of line on your groups values it can be impossible to make them a true team member, and trust us this is a formula for unhappiness for this individual, your team, and you as a manager.

Be clear about what your organization stands for, and watch your organization mesh, the cream rise to the top, and the unhappy individuals weed themselves out.

Here are the core values with some short explanation as presented in Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Ideal Team Player”. Your values can be different, but this is a crucial starting point for any organization:

Core Values –

  • Humble – “Don’t think less of yourself but think of yourself less” – C.S. Lewis
    • Unhumble - Primarily looking for the overtly arrogant person on your team. They will drain the energy and progression from an organization wanting to direct resources, attention, energy...etc toward themselves.
    • Too Humble - The person who thinks their ideas are not very good or doubt their talent. The other extreme will also cause problems with a teams ability to succeed.
    • Apart from the other two virtues (below) humility stands alone. You really can’t work to improve any team member that isn’t humble.
  • Hungry – Hungry people almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder. They are self-motivated and diligent.
    • This is the hardest to instill in people later in life.
    • Downside – If the individual is too “hungry” they will really want to run their own company/team. They will constantly need to be the top person, and will not be able to settle for being a member of a team that experiences success as a whole.
    • Hungry without humility is a dangerous thing
  • Smart – "Smart" simply references an individual’s emotional IQ and common sense about people.
    • The person can be extremely talented and technically gifted, but will not use this skill nearly as effective if they are not emotionally smart enough to notice their actions are off-putting to a team.
    • It’s not touchy-feely. It’s really more about being adept at understanding people
    • Know how to listen and complete work in such a way that allows others on a team to understand and buy into what is being accomplished.
    • An individual can be VERY talented and just not understand/notice their actions regularly frustrate the rest of the team. They can make messes on your team without realizing it.

If you are hiring, be strong on explaining these values and expectations. More importantly, truly internalize your values to allow your questions to sort the weakest value out of each interviewee.

If you are looking to improve your existing team, have each members rate which value is their weakest. Agree that when you see this individual failing in this value you will constructively call them on it. This will produce one of two results, the individual will either improve (and be happier for it) or they will eventually come to the conclusion they do not fit your culture and will weed themselves out. The individual who chooses the latter was not good for your team to begin with. Even if they were a strong individual performer, your team will benefit from their absence.


So although the thought of core values may be more warm and fuzzy than you like, realize if your company continues hiring strictly for technical aspects of a job and not the person, you will promote a fragmented team.

Extrude new hires and current employees through your organization's core values. The technical aspects of a job can be taught, but if they are not the right people to begin with, long-term results are likely to be disappointing for that employee and your organization.

Action Steps

  1. Decide and write out no more than THREE core values for your organization.
  2. Over the coming weeks, take your team through the core values. Ask them to rate themselves on which value is their weakest. Agree you will constructively keep them accountable to the values AND DO IT.
  3. When hiring your next employee, have these values internalized to the point your questions/conversations can recognize individuals who will blend well with your company. 

Once you get a core group, they become self-policing on the expectation of the individuals in that group. Start assembling a real team today and witness the difference not only performance but the morale of your entire organization.

Blessings In Your Endeavors,

Ruben Watson  

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