Editor’s note: Managing human beings is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever face, especially as your team grows. We spoke with six founders about what works (and what doesn't).
How people think about winning is a good indication of how they'll perform on a team. Those with a win-lose mindset can do a lot of damage. Teams also need to be diverse. USA Network was an early exemplar of diversity at the very top--I was a woman CEO in an industry completely dominated by men. But in the 1980s, Reuben Mark, who was then CEO of Colgate-Palmolive, said that just because a leader embodies diversity, that doesn't mean the rest of the company values it. I realized my department heads were hiring people virtually identical to them. I made recruiting employees from different backgrounds a goal tied to compensation.
Sometimes it's best to let teams create themselves. After we launched the Sci Fi Channel (now Syfy), I proposed in 1994 that we experiment with a virtual sci-fi convention. I sent a request for volunteers through department heads and ended up with a cross-functional team of 10. A woman from marketing surprised me by emerging as team leader; others brought enthusiasm and skills I hadn't known about. That model works especially well for innovation efforts, when people volunteer because they are passionate, and your best contributors aren't obvious because you don't know what will be needed.
But don't idealize teams. There will be competition, and that can be good, so long as people aren't pitted against one another. Also, remember that collective decision making may not always be possible. Ultimately, the leader decides, and everyone climbs on board.