What Kind Of Team Do I Want Around Me? (Lesson 4)

You’ve worked hard on who you can trust and have potentially had some tough conversations, and perhaps even made a tough call or two. You now have the right people (the character side) in the right roles (the competence side).

Now your most important task is to build a high-performing team. The individual members have character and competence. Now the team needs chemistry.

Let me be clear here. A high-performing team is not a group of the highest performing individuals.

In the sporting world, one of the greatest individual contributors of all-time would have to be Michael Jordan. But it wasn’t until coach Phil Jackson took the reins of the Chicago Bulls that they started winning championships. Through the 1980s Jordan amassed MVP Awards and personal achievements, yet a championship eluded him.

Jordan was known for not spending much time with his team, opting instead to hang out with his personal entourage. He was also known for not having faith in his teammates, which was part of the reason he played like a lone superstar. His teammates felt like they were the side-show to the Michael Jordan show.

Phil Jackson knew that something had to change, and so led Jordan down a path of “surrendering the me to the we.” To Jordan’s credit, he embraced the journey and started using his superior skill and determination to invest in his teammates, especially the younger players. He made a commitment to the team’s success, not just his own.

This inner transformation of Jordan unlocked one of the NBA’s great success stories: winning their first world championship in 1991 and going on to win another five before the decade was out.

One of Jordan’s better-known quotes is, “If you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

No matter how good your individual team members are, they’ll never truly win unless they become a high-performing team.


You need to understand the existing alliances at the senior level as part of working out who you can trust. Now, to build a high-performing team, these personal alliances MUST be dismantled, and then rebuilt. The only alliances that can survive are to the good of the whole organisation, and the success of the whole team. This is the beginning of the process of building team cohesion. Now we’re focusing on the chemistry.

By chemistry, I mean the way the individual elements combine and interact to create a result.

If you have been promoted to CEO from within the organisation, some of your challenge may well be the need to dismantle some of your own long-held alliances. If you don’t, you are furnishing your own “doghouse” by sowing seeds of politics (the bad kind) and favouritism, which only undermines the very trust that you need in order to succeed, and puts some potential explosives in your team chemistry. A shift in role requires a shift in relationships.