A client recently posed the question, “Do great leaders pick their teams or do they raise the game of the team they have?” In reality, it’s a bit of both. I’ll use the analogy of a sports team to illustrate this point.
Let’s say you’re hired as the coach of a team. Well, the team already exists, and it is doubtful that the General Manager is going to allow you to release the entire team and assemble a new one from the ground up. What is more likely is that you will be tasked with assessing the talent already on the team — learning each player’s strengths, motivations, aspirations, and values. Armed with this information, you will be able to begin to understand how to leverage each individual for the benefit of the collective.
Might there be some players who don’t buy into your vision for the team or fit into the composite you’re creating? Sure. And, as a leader who is new to the team, it is important to take the time to ensure that the players understand your vision and expectations. In some cases, it may be that the player simply needs training to be able to meet your expectations. Or, perhaps, they would be more successful if moved to a different position. And, in some cases, there are those with whom you’ll need to part ways.
The act of hiring then becomes one of filling in the gaps you’ve identified. What are the skills, talents, and behaviors that will complement the composite you’ve created? In other words, you’re not just hiring a positional player, you’re hiring someone who is able to bring these missing pieces to the table and work with the existing team to achieve greater collective success.
Whether you are responsible for a team, department, division, or organization, leading requires you to craft a team that will be able to enact your vision. This means getting to know, and getting creative with, the talent you’ve already got and hiring individuals to fill the holes you’ve identified in the roster.