The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #5 - Impact

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #5 - Impact

The Healthy High Performance Teams Program

KEY POINTS:

1. Impact is about making a difference, offering an outcome that matters. 

2. Healthy high-performance teams understand how their work contributes to larger organizational goals.

3. As you work to power up every team you’re on, be sure to help everyone involved understand their impact, their place in the system, and their power to make a difference on something bigger than themselves. 

We’ve arrived at the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to healthy high-performance teams. That piece is impact, which is all about the results of your work. Impact is about making a difference, offering an outcome that matters.

Teams need to understand how their work contributes to larger organizational goals. It’s incredibly inspiring to be able to see in advance where the part (project) fits into the whole (mission of the organization). And it’s personally motivating to take steps that have an impact on a cause larger than the self. It’s similar to aligning your daily habits and choices with your dreams. That’s living with impact.

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When I think of Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, I think of impact. Gord was always very private, but he was very public about his diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. And he decided to do a final tour with the Hip all across the country. In the encore of the final concert, he really unleashed his emotions. He went right into his pain, right into his suffering, and expressed it all on stage. He went to a place he’s never been before in order to capture the entire country’s attention, with 13 million people watching that final concert on television.

But it wasn’t all about him or the music or the band. He wanted to say something in that stadium at the final concert with Prime Minister Trudeau in attendance and a huge audience across the country. He wanted people to tune in and pay attention for a reason. Standing on the stage between encores, he talked about our painful history as a nation that we need to address. He talked about the genocide we’ve perpetuated on our First Nations and Indigenous people. He wanted the country to understand the consequences of the past, and he laid the responsibility of addressing it at the feet of the Prime Minister, who nodded in that moment. Then he went on to finish the concert. You can see on Gord’s face how much it mattered him to finish his life as a musician in this way.

To have an impact on something that matters is a powerful motivator in life and on teams. As you work to power up every team you’re on, be sure to help everyone involved understand their impact, their place in the system, their power to make a difference.

Here, again, are the fab five elements of a healthy high-performance team: clarity, psychological safety, dependability, meaning and impact.

Remember the finding of Google’s Project Aristotle: it’s not who you have on a team, it’s how the team functions. It’s the team’s “communal health,” not its talent, credentials or experience. It’s how they view their task and one another. Those five elements can be alive and well on any team. If they are, great things are possible.

Finally, keep in mind that the five elements build mental health. If they drive us at work and in our personal lives, we’ll have more joy and greater psychological and emotional wellbeing. Our teams win, and so do we.

It has been a pleasure spending this time with you. I’ve enjoyed your questions and comments and stories about your journey. I’ve heard a lot about your dreams and your challenges, and I’m lucky to have learned so much from you. Thank you for participating and striving and sharing.

Remember you can send me your questions any time at coach@thewellsgroup.co or check out the contact page on the website.

I wish you the very best on your journey!

Dr. Greg Wells

Today's 1% Gain: Identify your Potential Impact

THIS FINAL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE OF HOW TO CREATE HEALTHY HIGH-PERFORMANCE TEAMS IS BEING AWARE OF THE IMPACT THAT SUCCESS WILL HAVE. THIS IMPACT CAN BE ON YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR TEAMMATES, YOUR CLIENTS, YOUR STUDENTS, THE COUNTRY, OR EVEN THE WORLD.

I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT MY MISSION IN MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE IS TO HELP 1 BILLION PEOPLE BE HEALTHIER AND TO REACH THEIR POTENTIAL. IN MY FAMILY LIFE I SEEK TO HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF MY CHILDREN. 

KNOWING WHAT THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF YOUR TEAM WORK IS CAN BE POWERFULLY MOTIVATING FOR THE MEMBERS OF YOUR TEAM. MORE IMPORTANTLY IT CAN MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY AND CONTENT DESPITE THE CHALLENGES THAT OFTEN ACCOMPANY TRYING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.

KNOWING WHAT YOUR DESIRED IMPACT IS CAN ALSO HELP YOU KEEP GOING DESPITE OBSTACLES AND FAILURES. 

SO WHAT IS THE IMPACT THAT YOU SEEK TO MAKE IN THE WORLD? MAKE SURE THAT YOU GET THIS WRITTEN DOWN AND SHARE IT AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #4 - Meaning

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #4 - Meaning

The Healthy High Performance Teams Program

KEY POINTS:

1. Meaning is understanding not what you’re doing but why you’re doing it.

2. Motivation is much more powerful when it comes from the inside (why do you care about what you do, what are you passionate about, what is the significance), versus outside motivation (rewards, fame, money).  

We’re on the fourth element of building a healthy high-performance team. We’ve arrived at meaning.

What is meaning? It’s not what you’re doing but why you’re doing it: not what your job is, for example, but what drives you. A teacher might ask herself, why do I work as an educator of young people?

Of course, a healthy high-performance team needs to understand the “what” of their work. It’s the task, problem or issue. But the why is much more powerful: it’s the meaning of the work, the larger purpose. What is the significance? How does it fit into the bigger picture? Why does it matter at all?

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Most important of all, what is driving each member of the team? Is it the hope of a bonus, a promotion, some sort of reward? It’s an important question, because one thing we have learned about motivation is that when it comes from the outside (rewards), it is far less powerful and far more likely to die off than when it comes from the inside (a deep desire to do one’s best, to advance a cause).

Here’s a story to illustrate how powerful meaning and “why” can be.

Michael Phelps is the most successful Olympian of all time. Yet in 2014, he ended up in a very dark place. He was photographed smoking marijuana, acquired two driving under the influence charges, and had a series of bad relationships. He was very troubled, despite having 14 gold medals and unlimited money. He ended up checking himself into rehab and had thoughts of suicide.

Gold medals are amazing achievements, but they are also external rewards. They don’t fill the meaning gap.

While in rehab, a friend asked him a simple but surprising question: “Is that the best that you can do?” Imagine asking the most successful Olympian ever, really, is that all you’ve got? But Michael listened. And he realized, he wasn’t even close to his best. Not because he needed more wins, though he would indeed earn more. But because he was living “what” (earning medals) and not “why” (his meaning and passion).

He changed his diet. He committed to physical therapy. He added yoga, stretching, massage and functional training to his swimming. He repaired a number of relationships. And possibly the clearest illustration of his shift: he stopped reading things like ESPN magazine and started reading biographies of people like Mahatma Ghandi and Steve Jobs. Talk about two individuals driven by inner purpose!

Michael’s overall shift was away from money and medals (external rewards) and toward meaning (trying his hardest, doing his best, rediscovering his love of training). By the Rio Olympics in 2016, he was truly happy.

That’s the power of why. And it lies at the heart of healthy high-performance teams. A great team is driven by some deeper than praise or trophies: it is fueled by meaning. External rewards are fine, but they are not the meaning of our lives.

Today's 1% Gain: Know Your Why

GOOGLE’S PROJECT ARISTOTLE REVEALED THAT HIGH-PERFORMING TEAMS WERE CLEAR ON THE FACT THAT THEIR PROJECTS HAD MEANING AND WERE DESIGNED TO ACCOMPLISH VERY SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OR TO CREATE NEW OPPORTUNITIES.

JUST THINK ABOUT THE TEAM THAT CREATED GOOGLE VOICE - A PIECE OF FREE SOFTWARE THAT ALLOWS YOU TO TALK, FOR FREE, TO ANYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD. THAT PROJECT WAS NOT ABOUT CREATING SOFTWARE, IT WAS ABOUT CONNECTING PEOPLE.

SO WHY ARE YOU DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR TEAM? WHY ARE YOU WORKING ON A PROJECT? OR TRAINING FOR AN EVENT? OR PRACTICING A NEW PIECE OF MUSIC?

KNOWING YOUR WHY AND BEING AWARE OF THE REAL MEANING OF THE WORK THAT YOU’RE DOING IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL TO ENSURING THAT YOU REACH YOUR POTENTIAL.

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #3 - Dependability

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #3 - Dependability

The Healthy High Performance Teams Program

KEY POINTS:

1. Dependability is being able to rely on others to complete their tasks well.

2. A dependable team is highly productive. Promises are kept, people follow through, things get done, and trust is built.  

3. The first step is to switch from time management to priority management. If every team member understands the priorities of the project, they are going to stay on track, which means the whole team stays on track.

The third element of a healthy high-performance team is dependability. This is a pretty straight-forward concept: it means being able to rely on others to complete their tasks well. We all have a pretty good sense of what “dependable” means – with our bosses, co-workers, spouses, and even with elements of the world, like public transportation or a favourite coffee shop.

Dependability matters because it draws on and leads to so many other individual and team factors. For example, a dependable team member is building positive relationships as a by-product of being responsible and reliable. That person’s word is their bond, which boosts morale and confidence all around. And of course, a dependable person – and team – is highly productive. Promises are kept, people follow through, things get done.

Most important, dependability builds trust. People who can be depended on are people who can be trusted. Faith in each other and in the mission is strong.

During parts of our climb up Mount Chimbarazo in Ecuador, the whole group was roped together. There were times, especially at night, when we had to completely depend on one another. The image of climbers tied together is perfect for a dependable team. With such a strong sense of responsibility and connection, you’re not going to let anyone down. If you did, the team could fall off a cliff! In our case, it felt amazing to be tied to everyone else. It was empowering. It’s also empowering for other kinds of teams.

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How can you ensure that you and your teams are dependable?

My strong suggestion is that you pivot from time management to priority management. If your team works from a sense of priority, it is going to be highly reliable when it comes to reaching stages and benchmarks. If every team member understands the priorities of the project, they are going to stay on track, which means the whole team stays on track.

I shifted to priority management awhile ago in my life. Long story short: after I ended up in the cardiac ward of a hospital with a heart infection, I reset my priorities: health first, then family, then work.

At the outset of a project, align everyone’s priorities around what is mission-critical. Cut out anything that isn’t essential. As a result, you’ll see dependability rise. People naturally become more reliable when they are engaged in mission-critical activities rather than distracting minutiae.

When my health became mission-critical as my first priority, I was able to complete an Ironman a year after my heart infection knocked me out. Right now, my priority is building great relationships with my family. I spend time with my wife and kids from dinner through to bedtime. I do it every day. That mission-critical focus has made me highly dependable and has been great for the health and strength of my family. The same happens on work teams.

On your teams, spend time at the outset of a project and then periodically afterward asking, what is mission critical? What are the right priorities? You will find that the dependability of each member and the whole team skyrockets.

Today's 1% Gain: Priority Management and the Mission Critical Question

THE KEY TO DEPENDABILITY IS ACTUALLY DOING WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO DO. IN A TEAM CONTEXT IT IS HAVING THE CONFIDENCE THAT PEOPLE ON YOUR TEAM WILL GET THEIR JOBS DONE. DESPITE HOW OBVIOUS THIS SOUNDS, IT IS NOT A GIVEN THAT PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO FINISH WHAT THEY COMMIT TO. I BELIEVE THAT IS THE RESULT OF SO MANY OF US BEING INUNDATED WITH URGENT REQUESTS TO DO TASKS THAT MAKE US BUSY CAUSE US TO GET SIDE-TRACKED FROM DOING OUR IMPORTANT WORK THAT WILL ADVANCE OUR WORK AND / OR OUR LIVES. THERE ARE 2 CRITICAL ACTIONS THAT CAN HELP YOU BE DEPENDABLE AND TO ENSURE THAT YOUR TEAMMATES ARE DEPENDABLE AS WELL.

THE FIRST IS TO DO PRIORITY MANAGEMENT NOT TIME MANAGEMENT. MOST PEOPLE MANAGE THEIR CALENDARS AND NOT THEIR PRIORITIES. WHEN YOU ARE CLEAR ON YOUR PRIORITIES AND THEN YOU ASSIGN TIME TO GET YOUR MOST IMPORTANT THINGS DONE EACH DAY (RATHER THAN THE OTHER WAY AROUND) YOU SET THE STAGE FOR ACHIEVEMENT AND DEPENDABILITY.

THE SECOND WAY TO IMPROVE DEPENDABILITY IS TO ASK A VERY POWERFUL QUESTION AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH DAY / MEETING / BLOCK OF WORK. THE QUESTION IS “IS THIS MISSION CRITICAL?” THAT SIMPLE QUESTION WILL GIVE YOU AND YOUR TEAMMATES PERSPECTIVE THAT YOU NEED TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO DO. 

MOST OF US HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO AND NOT ENOUGH TIME. THEREFORE, WE OFTEN CANNOT GET EVERYTHING DONE. THIS CAUSES A LOT OF STRESS AND ANXIETY, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOUR TEAMMATES ARE DEPENDING ON YOU. PRIORITY MANAGEMENT AND THE MISSION CRITICAL QUESTION ARE TWO WAYS THAT YOU CAN ENSURE THAT YOU ARE GETTING YOUR LIFE MOST IMPORTANT WORK DONE DESPITE THE CHALLENGES AND DEMANDS THAT YOU’RE FACED WITH ON A DAILY BASIS.

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #2 - Psychological Safety

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #2 - Psychological Safety

The Healthy High Performance Teams Program

KEY POINTS:

1. Psychological safety is when people feel that there are no negative consequences for risk-taking, such as being viewed as ignorant, incompetent, or disruptive. They also feel they will not be embarrassed or punished for making a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.

2. Here are two questions that help co-workers, students, or your family members feel that the environment is a psychologically safe place: What went well? Where do I need support?

When it comes to building healthy, high-performance teams, the Google study identified psychological safety as most important to team success.

If you’ve ever been in a perfectionist work environment or on a less than great team, you may have experienced things like this: people getting shot down for having wacky ideas, or being criticized for not having the right answer, or being afraid to speak up because someone might roll their eyes or snicker.

I would call that a psychologically unsafe situation! People feel under attack and protect themselves by clamming up or playing it safe. Kids do this in classrooms all the time – maybe you did too, when you were a student. No surprise that careful contributions – lacking in original insight or creative whimsy – lead to uninspired learning or weak solutions.

Let’s define psychological safety so you can start to integrate it into your teamwork:

·       A person’s perception that there are no negative consequences for risk-taking, such as being viewed as ignorant, incompetent or disruptive

·       Teammates feel they will not be embarrassed or punished for making a mistake, asking a question or offering a new idea

I think Saturday Night Live is a perfect example of psychological safety. Actors come together during the week to generate new ideas, and they pitch them constantly – basically, competing with one another to get their ideas on the air. Obviously, only a few get picked and make it to Saturday night. Once the final skits have been selected, the highly competitive atmosphere switches to a highly cooperative one. Everyone comes together to work on them. Both in the competition stage and in the cooperation stage, there is a high level of support. Just because you want your idea to win doesn’t mean you’re trashing everyone else. And if your idea doesn’t win, you join someone else’s to make it the best it can be.

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On any team, you want members to feel free to offer new ideas without penalty, to stick their neck out. That’s a vulnerable position. The creative flow will shut off if disapproval results. People protect themselves from harm, whether emotional or physical. It’s a survival instinct, and we need to have it for situations that really risky. A great team isn’t that situation.

Psychological safety is what got Melissa McCarthy to her Sean Spicer impersonation. It’s one of the best SNL characters ever. In order to be so creative, the support has to be greater than the risks.

This is true for the workplace, for schools, even for families. Co-workers, students, even your own teenagers need to feel that the environment is a psychologically safe place. Here are two questions that help make that happen: What went well? Where do I need support?

Those two positive questions can lead to amazing outcomes. Try it in a team meeting or at the end of every work week and see what happens when you go around a table and everyone asks and answers these questions. Or do it with your family or your spouse. What went well this week? Where do I need support?

When we talk about these things in a safe environment, everyone wins. And every team gets better.

Today's 1% Gain: Daily Reflection

TO ENSURE THAT YOU ARE CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT AND CULTURE WHERE SUPPORT IS GREATER THAN RISK THERE IS AN EXERCISE THAT WORKS WONDERS. 

ASK YOUR TEAMMATES TWO QUESTIONS AT THE END OF EACH WEEK THAT YOU ARE WORKING TOGETHER ON A PROJECT. THE FIRST QUESTION IS “WHAT WENT WELL?” AND THE SECOND IS “ WHERE DO YOU NEED SUPPORT?”

I LEARNED THESE QUESTIONS FROM MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE ALEX CHARFEN (YOU CAN CHECK HIM OUT AT WWW.CHARFEN.COM). 

ADD THESE QUESTIONS TO YOUR MEETINGS AND ROUTINES AND YOU WILL CREATE A POWERFUL POSITIVE CULTURE IN YOUR TEAMS.

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #1 - Clarity

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #1 - Clarity

The Healthy High Performance Teams Program

KEY POINTS:

1. High-performance teams have clarity of vision and dream. A healthy high-performance team starts by asking, what’s the dream? What’s the vision?

2. Clarity involves three aspects: understanding job expectations, understanding how to fulfill those expectations, and understanding the consequences of job performance.

3. When team members can “see” what they need to do, how to do it, and be able to assess how well they’re doing it – that’s clarity.

Now that you know that each element of a healthy high-performance team is also a critical element in your (and my and everyone’s) overall mental health, let’s jump right into the first one: clarity.

Clarity basically involves three aspects: understanding job expectations, understanding how to fulfill those expectations, and understanding the consequences of job performance.

When you add it all up, high-performance teams have clarity of vision and dream. Those aspects above are the individual parts of that clarity.

Let me give you an example:

About 18 months ago, I was in a group of grad students, doctors and serious mountaineers who wanted to climb Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador. If you take into account the equatorial bulge, Chimborazo is actually two kilometers higher than Everest. We wanted to be closer to the stars than any other humans (those up on the International Space Station don’t count!).

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It’s a challenging climb: steep, dangerous in parts, and a very high altitude of over 6,000 metres at the peak. Plus, the climb begins at the memorial site of those who have failed. The psychology of starting from a graveyard is pretty bleak. Also, I developed some altitude sickness on the climb and experienced tunnel vision, dizziness and confusion. There were some tough times.

In the end, two of my grad students got onto the summit while we older people stopped just below, wanting to survive to return to our families!

We were all able to participate in that expedition because of our clear vision: we wanted to be the humans closest to the stars. We focused on that during extensive training and the climb. That clarity kept us focused. It got us up and it got us back.

Over time, exercising your clarity and focus appears to change a structure in the brain called the inferior frontal cortex, which is involved in decision making and the interpretation of information from the environment. It becomes strengthened when you focus repeatedly. The structure of your brain actually changes. And so, of course, does your ability to maintain focus.

Think of others with exceptional focus and vision, like Elon Musk. SpaceX is about making humanity a multi-planetary species. Tesla and SolarCity are about a carbon-free future. Those very clear visions drive those organizations forward rather than, for example, merely making a car. Or consider J.K. Rowling, a single mother living in poverty and struggling with depression. Her first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by 12 publishing houses, one of whom suggested she get a day job since she had little chance of making a living with children’s books. But she had a clear vision and stayed faithful to it.

A healthy high-performance team starts by asking, what’s the dream? What’s the vision? When team members can “see” what they need to do, how to do it, and be able to assess how well they’re doing it – that’s clarity. That’s the vision and the dream.

Today's 1% Gain: Clarity of Vision 

The foundation of great team performance is for leaders (you can always lead without a title - anyone on a team can and should be a leader) to be absolutely clear about what their vision is for the project that the team is seeking to complete or achieve. The vision can be a dream if it is big picture or a goal if the task is more concrete and time-limited. The outcome of the project should be articulated and stated. The vision should be stated verbally and in writing at every opportunity. 

Some examples include:

1. When we were climbing Chimborazo volcano in Ecuador our objective was to become the humans who were the closest to the stars.

2. Elon Musk is creating a carbon-free future through his companies Tesla and Solar City.

3. A school in Baltimore changed their school culture by using meditation instead of detention.

So what is your vision for your key project for this year? Let’s get that written down and test it out by saying aloud in meetings and presentations and writing it in blog posts or other communications.

There Are Teams…. And Then There Are Healthy High-Performance Teams

There Are Teams…. And Then There Are Healthy High-Performance Teams

The Healthy High Performance Teams Program

KEY POINTS:

1. A less functional team might make you feel low, doubtful of your own ability, and emotionally damaged.  A really great team delivers a boost of energy and confidence that lasts beyond the time you spend together.

2. How a team functions is far more important than who is on a team.

3. In this module, we'll look at "the fab five" secrets of building a high-performance team - in your workplace or even at home with your family.

It’s common knowledge that productivity increases when people collaborate well. That goes for businesses, schools, universities, even social groups like book clubs. High-functioning teams are good for profitability, student achievement and even fun get-togethers.

But what makes a terrific team? Is it putting the greatest minds together? Socializing outside of work? Grouping people by experience? Having the same level of education? Having a strong leader?

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Good teams might have some or all of those things. But so do bad teams. When you take the time to review the research, none of those factors explain what makes a great team great. So that’s what I’m going to do in this series – offer some answers so you can build healthy, high-performance teams.

But first, let me ask you this: when you think back over some of the less functional, less productive teams you’ve been on, what comes to mind? What was it like? How did it make you feel?

People report feeling pretty low, doubtful of their own ability, sometimes even emotionally damaged when they’ve been part of a low-functioning or failing team. On the other hand, a really great team delivers a boost of energy and confidence that lasts beyond the time you spend together.

Don’t confuse a bad team with a really tough situation or problem to solve. On one of the best teams I ever formed, we all experienced freezing conditions, physically gruelling 18-hour days and rough working conditions (as in, setting up an “office” on the side of a cliff using solar panels to run a satellite network). We were 12,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains. We were often cold, hungry, tired, sometimes even sick….and happy. And successful. The living was hard but the teamwork was fantastic. We were high when we got back from the expedition, not low.

We had quite a few things in common, including some fancy credentials and unusual expertise. But that wasn’t why we worked. It’s not enough to have “the best people” in order to have the best teams. There’s much more to it than that.

How much more? That’s what Google asked itself about five years ago when it embarked on Project Aristotle. Google studied hundreds of its own teams and discovered this: how a team functions is far more important than who is on a team. The team’s “communal health” matters the most. It’s not about how smart the members are – it’s about how they view their task and treat one another.

I’m going to share with you what that means. In the next five articles, I’ll draw on Project Aristotle and other research to help you build healthy, high-performance teams – in your workplace or even at home with your family.

I’ll be covering “the fab five” of healthy, high-performance teams: clarity, psychological safety, dependability, meaning and impact. And what’s really interesting is that all five areas are also critical for overall mental health. In other words, if you incorporate these five aspects into your teamwork, you’ll also be building your mental health (and that of your colleagues) for all parts of your life.

Today's 1% Gain: Recruit Your Dream Team

These are the 5 people that make you better and will help you reach your goals and dreams. I also think that you can help these people be better. Together you can achieve great things.

1. Who:                            

Why I need them on my team:

How can we help each other:

 

2. Who:                            

Why I need them on my team:

How can we help each other:

 

3. Who:                            

Why I need them on my team:

How can we help each other:

 

4. Who:                            

Why I need them on my team:

How can we help each other:

 

5. Who:                            

Why I need them on my team:

How can we help each other: 

Dive Deeper: What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

Check out this fascinating article from the New York Times about Project Aristotle - a research study conducted by Google that investigated the key elements that contribute to team success.