Leaders look at people differently

A leader is trying to build a team. As a result, they’re not looking for perfect people. They’re not trying to create perfect people. They’re trying to build a winning team. It doesn’t come down to what the individuals can do on their own, it comes down to what a group of individuals can do together.

Leaders overlook imperfections.

When you’re putting together a team you need people with specific skills to get the job done. Depending on the project, you may need people:

  • Who are great communicators
  • Who are creative
  • Who are problem solvers
  • Who have great people skills
  • Who have specific technical skills
  • Who have a large number of contacts
  • Who have great experience in this type of project
  • Who have great knowledge of the geography and culture

The list can be long or short depending on the type of project. Just like in sports, you’ll need a lot more variety of players with unique skills when you are building a winning football team than if you are competing in boxing.

The 1967 movie, The Dirty Dozen, brilliantly showed how it works. 

Lee Marvin played a Army Major tasked with the impossible mission of assassinating a large number of German officers at a specific compound.

The Army insisted he assemble his team from a prison containing nothing but convicted murderers. He put together his ultimately successful team by choosing a dozen that each had a specific skill they would need to succeed.

Art Williams explained the same concept to me in 1984.

I cover this conversation in my Youtube video, Art on The Rhine River. I was questioning him about how he evaluated the top leaders who had qualified for the cruise-each one the best of thousands. He gave me a lesson that day I’ve used ever since in team building. I realized that if I was going to do big things in business, I needed my own “dirty dozen.”

I stopped looking for perfect people.

I stopped trying to “perfect” people. I didn’t need perfect people. I needed people with strength. I needed people I could count on to do specific things. They didn’t have to be perfect, they just had to focus on the things they were good at, and together the team could do big things. I started looking for people’s strengths.

To build a winning team, look for people’s strengths and build your “own” dirty dozen. 

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