Let me tell you, it is so damn hard to find a team that fits your vision and your project’s mission and that is as committed as you are. This was my biggest struggle when I was trying to found L-move, a startup now helping innovators to find the right team for their projects and giving people the chance to fully express their potential.
But can you see what the problem was?
The problem was Me ̶ that’s correct ̶ the problem was the sense of propriety I had about my idea. I learnt this by being more open about my project; my MBA classmates helped me to eliminate its weaknesses and extend its range of strengths and now they are more than my fellow students, they are my business partners ̶ the co-founders. If you want a team that will help your dream come true, be ready to work on their beliefs and on behalf of their needs, not yours, be ready to blame yourself for any single mistake, delay, and, more importantly, forget about “your” idea, it’s not yours anymore.
People get excited when they daydream, drawing the most beautiful business canvas, experiencing all this explosion of creativity and feeling smarter than others. If you are extremely committed you will last some months before you start facing the reality that is screaming out from your Google calendar, from your laptop monitor at 6 pm, at 1am, at 7am: I CANNOT DO IT ALONE.
The beautiful fairytales about Musk, Jobs, Gates, Buffet, Einstein, Bezos and Zuckerberg, where they did everything with their own two hands would be a great script for a film or book, or a great excuse to convince yourself that you can do it without putting yourself at the mercy of criticism ̶ but that’s about it.
So ask yourself ̶ do you want Yourself to succeed or the Mission that was encapsulated in your daydream? If the answer to this question is the former, stop reading now ̶ if it is the latter and you are looking for partners, please:
- Share your “Why”: people want to hear what is the purpose of your idea, they want to understand if they feel exactly like you do, feel the same needs, whether the same reasoning moves them. If you share your “Why”, you are not likely to share the solution to the problem but a mutual adjustment mechanism might be put in place, and it will help you and your team to converge on a common path.
- Understand that “It is not Yours anymore”: if you want to create engagement and commitment, forget that you ever had an idea, now your baby has multiple mums and dads; at the beginning he is going to be confused but later he will understand the benefits of having both roots and wings.
- Give everyone a Voice: if you are the leader of the project you must ensure that each member has an equal voice. Some team members, especially those who have joined more recently, will feel less engaged at the beginning since they do not know the team. Encourage them to share their ideas but most importantly, if you want to give them a voice, shut up and listen.
- Individualize motivation: do not forget about the Four Drive Model. What wakes you up and gets you going in the morning is going to have a different meaning for your peers, therefore try to understand the main drivers of the your team’s motivation. The D-4 model states that there are four main drivers that motivate those around you:
- Drive to Acquire & Achieve: companies tend to use this driver to motivate their employees but you are a startup, so it will extremely difficult to use the same levers (i.e. base pay, incentives, etc.). Working for equity can be a driver but remember, professionals do not start a business or decide to get involved in one for this exclusive reason ̶ as leader you need to offer a lot more.
- Drive to Bond & Belong: your team members and partners will need to feel that they are part of a team, that they belong to something. You will need to be coach, captain and bench warmer.
- Drive to Challenge & Comprehend: your team needs to be challenged, stimulated. There is one main reason: it wants to grow. Professionals exchanging their free time and opportunity cost to work with you, with the project, need to feel that they are growing ̶ so give them important tasks, new fields to develop within the project. Sometimes they will want to work on tasks of which they have no experience (e.g. an engineer that wants to deal with marketing operations). Don’t be afraid to give them a chance, otherwise you will never be surprised, otherwise your team will never express its full potential.
- Drive to Define & Defend: it is crucially important to understand the beliefs of your team members. First of all, of course, if you don’t share the same “why”, it is going to be difficult to build a long-lasting relationship; secondly, your institution must clarify the purpose, the importance, of your team members if you want them to be fully engaged.
Now it is time to practice, it is time to fail.
To conclude, I can honestly say that I am finding enormous fulfilment in building L-move community, thus helping more more others to build the best team for their new business ventures and to express their full potential and would thoroughly recommend others to follow in my footsteps along the entrepreneurial pathway.