In today’s insanely competitive and cluttered marketplace, we’re all striving to deliver more with fewer and fewer resources. And to win, we need to deliver more with perfection. Particularly in the luxury sector, perfection is expected and is merely our baseline. Authentic luxury is about extraordinary craftsmanship and provenance, so shouldn’t we apply those same tenants when curating our professional teams?
Presumably we all remember moments in our careers when we delivered something truly exceptional, innovative or disruptive. While naturally, we work assiduously to maintain this edge, those moments of sheer perfection are rare.
So what are the ingredients of those rare moments of brilliance? And how do we consistently replicate them?
In my experience, these moments typically have a singular common denominator – a high-functioning, passionate group of individuals with complementary skills that gel perfectly. A bit like the extraordinary writing teams delivering our favourite content right now. And most often, the smaller the group, the greater the achievement.
I’ve had the privilege of leading and being a part of a few extraordinarily brilliant teams over the past years. Disrupting the superyacht industry. Repositioning a heritage luxury hotel brand. And developing and implementing a marketing strategy and team from scratch in twelve months.
These three experiences were not only moments of brilliance but they were fun. And they all had the following 5 elements:
Balance Right & Left Brains
Properly balancing the lateralisation of brain function will ensure your team pushes its creative boundaries in a realistic, achievable way. Think about it as digital versus analogue. Left brain people are digital – they are logical, practical, analytical and time-oriented. Right-brained people are analogue – they are predominantly creative, intuitive, big-picture focused and space-oriented.
Your left-brain team members will ask the tough questions, think about the long-term and ensure the big ideas are feasible for implementation.
Your right-brain team members will generate the big ideas, push boundaries and think about the ‘wow’ factor.
Great teams need both sides of the brains – to push each other, but also to provide a natural check and balance system.
Assign a cognitively flexible team leader
Given you’ve just curated a balanced team of left and right brains, logic suggests that your team leader should be an individual that is highly integrated – someone equally skilled at both left and right brain tasks. This type of individual will be able to understand, empathise and encourage all members of the team – giving them equal exposure and consideration with the greater goal in mind.
You’ll know who these individuals are because they likely already play a leadership role within the organisation. They’re good at planning. They naturally see the big picture and will often offer a unique perspective. They adapt well. And they exhibit all of the personality traits below.
We all know the story behind Google’s “Googliness” personality tests, and while this is a little too cult-like for our world of luxury brands, there is strong evidence that personality traits matter when forming magical teams. And often, personality can be more important than technical skills in a team environment.
In the absence of doing personality tests, consider these five key traits when forming your high-performance teams:
- Interpersonal sensitivity
- Emotional stability
A balanced mix of people with these personality traits will ensure the team cooperates, shares information and functions as a single unit with a shared purpose.
Ignore job titles
It’s easy to get bogged down in job titles or hamstrung by complex corporate structure. But sometimes it’s worth pushing your own corporate boundaries to leverage the overall strengths of the organisation.
When curating internal project teams, treat the process as if you were hiring new employees. Ignore current titles, reporting lines or even departments and focus on recruiting the best talent for the project. In addition to creating a high-performing team that delivers on behalf of the entire organisation, your boldness will:
- Foster a culture of integration across disciplines / departments
- Promote knowledge transfer throughout the organisation
- Build mutually-beneficial relationships with your peers by sharing talent
- Inspire employees to strive to be considered for those ‘green beret’ projects
- Engage high-performing employees to achieve great things
Enhance with external talent
If you’re not able to adopt team members from other departments, or your current team is overloaded, consider sourcing project talent externally. For projects with a clearly defined critical path or a hard deadline to hit, the use of external freelancers can help you deliver on time while bringing a fresh, objective perspective to your team.
Employment data suggests that rising self-employment amongst highly skilled professionals accounts for almost half of all employment growth since the financial crisis. This means there are thousands of highly skilled professionals out there to parachute into your team without incurring HR costs or administration.