True leaders build teams of people who feel stimulated, safe, and rewarded. They inspire in ways that lead to individual and collective growth. With teams across the world separated like never before, held together by a patchwork of virtual meetings and conference calls, now is as good a time as any to attempt to understand what makes a team work well together.
Here's how 12 founders, industry titans, CEOs, and other execs approach building a highly functioning team.
Indra Nooyi, former chair and CEO, PepsiCo
Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different.
Andrew Cuomo, governor of the state of New York
People getting under your skin is a luxury. I don't operate on that level now. This is about what I have to do for New York [during the pandemic], and whoever can help me do that, I will work with. Whoever is contrary to that, I will oppose--period.
Louis J. Erickson Jr., co-founder and COO, Bit-Wizards
We have a policy: No individual mistake, no matter how bone-headed, will lead to the loss of a job. That way people can feel free to venture out, be daring, learn from their mistakes.
Alisa Marie Beyer, serial entrepreneur; CEO, Spa Girl Cocktails
If you can laugh together, you can work together. I also find that cash helps.
Paul Deraval, CEO, NinjaCat
We have no closed-door meetings except for personal ones. Every leadership meeting is recorded and shared. Each employee knows what our bank balance is and has access to everyone's salaries. People can handle it. If team members feel trusted, and you're completely honest and transparent with them, it keeps them invested in the mission.
Joanne Calabrese, CEO, Soko
I read somewhere that "business is a living organism"--its whole intention is to grow. The same applies to people mentally. Moving people into different or expanded roles allows them to develop new skills. It's incredible to see how motivated people become when they're faced with a new challenge.
Peter F. Drucker, management consultant, educator, author
Leadership is not a magnetic personality--that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not "making friends and influencing people"--that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.
Pat Lencioni, author and speaker; co-founder and president, Table Group
Three rules to live by: First, know your team. If people feel anonymous, they're not motivated. Take an interest in them. Second, constantly remind them why their work matters--that the work they do impacts someone else's world, whether it's a customer, another employee, a vendor. Third, give people a way to self-assess, whether it's a metric or something less tangible. Team members need a way to know they're doing well.
Steve Jobs, co-founder and former chairman and CEO, Apple; former chairman, Pixar
My model for business is the Beatles--four guys who kept each other's kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts.
Laszlo Bock, CEO and co-founder, Humu; author, Work Rules!; former SVP of people operations, Google
"Does your manager trust you?" is a profound question. If you believe people are fundamentally good, and if your organization is able to hire well, there is nothing to fear from giving your people freedom.
Orrin Woodward, author, speaker, management expert
A goal is planned conflict against the status quo. By helping teammates develop believable and achievable goals, and the corresponding rewards for achieving them, the leader can inspire his teammates without micromanaging.
Dwan White, head of global marketing, House of Cheatham
Learn the team's reward language. You'd be surprised how much it's not about money. People are looking for respect. They're looking to learn something new, to have a sense of ownership and some skin in the game, and to do what they do best.