The 3 C’s of Great Teams

Jul 10th, 2017 | By | Category: Commentary

Jeff Hough

By Jeff Hough

Balance — there must always be balance. There is balance in art, nature and life. People can accomplish great things by themselves, but when the right individuals come together, true magic happens.

An old colleague sent me an article by Joshua Wolf Shenk detailing the creative genius of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Shenk says, “Despite the mythology around the idea of the lone genius, the famous partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney demonstrates the brilliance of creative pairs.”

In the business world, history tends to shine the spotlight of greatness on the individuals who conquered all and often neglects the supporting cast that made the achievement possible. The solo hero is a myth.

The sports world is filled with great success stories of remarkable individuals who experienced moderate success until paired with the right team. When combined with the right cast, magic happened and championships were won and immortality achieved.

The music world has dozens of stories of groups like the Beatles, who together, created timeless classics but failed to reach similar levels of individual success.

Balance creates the chemistry that cannot be achieved alone. It is the Ying-Yang of relationships that sparks the greatness which within each member of a team. There are certain dynamics of relationships that push the participants beyond what they are capable of individually. Three things are the essence of magic-making partnerships.

Competitiveness. In Shenk’s article, he makes the case that competition between Lennon and McCartney made the Beatles so good. He cites the example of John Lennon bringing the idea for the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” (an ode to one of his favorite places as a youth) to the rest of the group.

One week after they finished recording Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields,” Paul presented the idea for the song “Penny Lane” (an ode to a landmark near his home). According to Paul, this friendly competition drove the two to create new things in response to each other’s efforts. This competition fostered an environment that brought them closer together and created the oneness that helped them collaborate on a new level.

Collaboration. People often cite Steve Jobs as the mastermind behind Apple and all of its success. While Jobs was certainly a driving force, he benefited greatly from the genius of Steve Wozniak. Wozniak had a technical expertise that was ahead of his time.

Jobs had some technical expertise, but nowhere near Wozniak’s talent level. What Jobs had that Wozniak didn’t was the ability to understand consumer wants and envision products to satisfy them. Like Lennon and McCartney, they didn’t always agree, which strengthened their relationship and helped create the oneness that allowed them to change the world.

Complement. Great teams are created from complementary parts. Members of the team may have similar skills and abilities, but it is their differences that make them special. Lennon was disorganized while McCartney was meticulous; Wozniak was content being behind the scenes, while Jobs was the master showman. Each individual brought a vital piece to the team, filling in the gaps.

During the course of my professional career I have been fortunate enough to experience the magic that comes from successful partnerships. This article is the product of just such a partnership. I have a muse pushing me to be more creative, more insightful and to write better; I have a taskmaster who cleans up my gibberish and puts a polish on my prose. Without my team, this column would not be possible. I am not all I can be without them and they without me.

Like the beauty of being part of a dynamic duo, the sum of my team is greater than the individual parts. Amazing success is achieved through the combination of similar but unique talents working towards a shared vision. Ying joins Yang, balance is achieved and the world is moved.

Jeff Hough is a business author, blogger and speaker in Pocatello.

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