How to Build a New Team

I consider myself an entrepreneurial leader – I love the blank slate of opportunity and the ability to create something new. This is something my wife has grown to love and hate. She knows that if I am bored I will probably come up with an idea of something that needs to be started. Whether it is a new process, a new organization or new team – I always have an excitement about starting something new.

I have been able to take part in creating a number of new teams over the years, and have watched many more launch out. In that time I’ve noticed that to create a new team there are 4 things a leader must do:

Define the Need – Start off by identifying why the team should exist. Describe the current gap between what is and what could be. New things are created when there is a void; what is the need that exists that is answered or solved by the creation of this new team? Defining the need helps answer the “why” question for the team.

Real-time example: We host a monthly event at 12Stone for people who want to learn more and get connected. A need we have identified is having more of a leadership presence at this event to connect with people one-on-one.

Clarify the Scope – A team cannot be all things to all people. As a leader you must clarify some of the parameters that guide your team. Where will your team focus its time and energy? What is going to be the unique footprint of your team? Part of the distinct nature of your team is that it exists in a time/place where there is fresh need.

Real-time example: Our goal is to have a team of people who serve at this monthly event by showing up early, sitting at tables with attendees as they engage in meaningful conversation. The scope for this team is about 2 hours each month.

Pick the Players – A new team is a collection of people who did not previously work in coordination with each other. Even if some have experiences together – there is newness in the purpose that brings them together on your team. Take time to think through whom you want on the team. Can anyone be a player, or will your team members be hand picked?

Real-time example: This is a hand picked group of people who we will ask to serve. Because of the low time commitment we have the ability to ask current volunteers and leaders who might have an interest in serving for an additional couple of hours a month.

Lead the Culture – A team takes shape and becomes distinctive around culture. The culture of a team is shaped by someone; either with intentionality by the leader or accidentally by the members of the team. Do not risk the success of the team by being unintentional with culture. As the leader you must define how the team will look, feel and serve.

Real-time example: As a part of inviting people to serve on this new team we are providing guidance around how they should talk and interact with guests at the event. We are painting a picture of what the experience should be for an attendee.

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