In my experience, teams are usually built around skills: “we need a finance person,” “let’s add more sales reps,” “where can I find a better leader?”
These approaches are not wrong, but they can be akin to buying a car based on the number of wheels it has, or purchasing the first pack of cheese you see in the grocery store! You will get a car, or some cheese, but it may not be the best fit for your needs. There are details within those ‘skills’ that matter a lot. On a team, the most important is the strengths that team members bring within their skills; such as passion to encourage, desire to raise standards, or attention to detail. These “soft” factors can help or hinder a team’s success far more than team members’ skills alone.
The wise leader will consider these areas when building, or growing, a team:
What are the existing strengths on the team? Are any under-developed or unused?
Can the team meet its goals with the current mix of strengths?
If skills are missing, and need to be added, what strengths are needed with those skills?
If we are adding a person or two, how will their strengths mesh with the rest of the team?
How do my strengths (as the leader) challenge, develop, and incorporate the strengths of my team as we pursue our goals?
The answers to these reflection questions take the leader a step beyond Valuing Differences and move the team further toward their goals.