Recently, I was asked,  “What are the essential ingredients that make a successful team?”   Whether it was the word “ingredients” or the fact that my stomach was growling, the analogy to making the perfect dish seemed obvious.

Start Strong’s Recipe for a 5 Star Team:

Talent = meat. This is our main course. The lack of talent is like the absence of meat in the main dish. (I don’t know how you vegetarians do it!) Just as you need a full helping of chops, and the better the quality the better the dish—so it goes for the raw talent of individual team members and leaders.

Leadership = starch.  This is the side dish. Full parts of organic, wholesome and healthy leadership are in order.  Get those leaders who walk the talk, partner, not over-power their teams and understand what a dose of humility and integrity looks like. And, honestly—who doesn’t LOVE starch (especially if you’ve been on a low-carb diet)!

Training = salt.  Sprinkle throughout.  Training isn’t only for the first few days. Season your team like you would a good piece of meat, early and often, tasting as you go to see if the flavors are blending and working well together.

Engagement = braising. You need time to prepare the perfect meat main dish. A slow, low cook ensures flavors meld, the meat is savory and juices reduce. Team engagement is the same. It takes time. When you try to rush it, the result is disappointing.

Team building = garnish.  Like the parsley on top, this brings an element of surprise, interest and some intentionality. Omitting this detail, the dish can look just like any other piece of meat on a plate. The presentation (after all that effort and hard work) completes the entrée.  Not all garnishes are created equal, so think about what you need from your team building exercises.

Just as all recipes have a unique element to them, so do teams. However, I’ve never been disappointed in a team that I invested my energy in picking just the right talent, researching and implementing the right training programs and being purposeful about how we interact and engage with each other. Bon Appetit!