The Two Mindsets of Winning Teams – Are You Fundable #4

The Two Mindsets of Winning Teams - Are You Fundable #4

Are you fundable - winning teamIn the last segment of this series, I counseled you, the vision-master founder of an innovation company (or the execution master looking for a home) to see the value in forming a two-headed “hydra” with a trusted co-founder. In this segment, I’d like to help you actually find that person, by identifying the traits necessary to fulfill the role.

It would be easy if people were obviously comprised of either the vision-master or the execution-master traits and skill sets. Unfortunately, most people are more nuanced and thus not always so easily categorized.  Each person is a complex mix of traits that may not clearly match the traits of either the vision-master or the execution master. Still, as I mentioned in my book “Born to Star,” in a broad sense there are two mindsets that often come together to form powerful management teams:

  1. Long term, optimistic, big picture, inspirational leadership, strategic planner
  2. Short term, cover-your-ass, detailed, get-it-done leadership, tactical planner

Therefore, I strongly suggest that you use an appropriate work-style assessment tool to assess yourself and your teammates to determine if there is a full balance of traits on your team and whether your C-Level team has the two mindsets listed above.  I recommend either the Harrison Assessment or the Entrepreneur Navigator, the former is more detailed, the latter simpler, but sufficient. Both have long-proven histories in the business assessments.  Best yet, use them both.

I avoid psychological and personality assessment tools such as DISC and Myers-Briggs, as they miss patterns of thought and behavior that are specific to business; patterns that may have developed over time during a professional’s career experience and were not present in childhood.  What’s important is to use some work-style assessment tool(s) that will help you achieve a balance of complementary leadership and thinking styles.

So, what are you looking for?

Well, if you’re the vision-master, you’re looking for the following traits that would make for a terrific execution-master partner. If you’re an execution-master, you’re seeking to find a vision-master to complement that has the following traits:

  • The vision-masteris the generator of ideas and the execution-master is the implementer of those ideas;
  • The vision-masteris the strategist and the execution-master is the tactician;
  • The vision-master asks where are we going and the execution-master asks how are we getting there?
  • The vision-masterasks “why?” and the execution-master asks “how?”
  • The vision-master is the disruptor and the execution-master is the stabilizer and defender of what works

This is not to say that a vision-master has no implementation skills or ability to think tactically, nor does it mean that execution-masters have no ability to generate new ideas or utilize strategic thinking. In general, though, we are each best suited to primarily play one role or the other within a business team at any one time.

Even if you can play both roles well, it’s almost impossible to play both roles well AT THE SAME TIME.  It’s all about the way you think all day long. It is your dominant thinking style.

  • When you are vision-master, you wake up in the morning and start thinking about what your company will be like as the future unfolds, and what new ideas you can add to make the future even brighter or disrupt the status quo. You invent an improvement.
  • When you are an execution-master, when you wake up in the morning you start thinking about what can go wrong, or how you’re going to get through the month or the quarter. You stop a disaster.

The assessments suggested above will help you find these specific qualities in yourself and others and thus find, not such your “better half,” but your perfect half. Together, you’ll make a difficult-to-defeat hydra.

You know from the previous posts in this blog series that evolutionary processes within the human species and cultural norms within human societies worked to create a proclivity in which (again generally speaking) men tended to develop more of the traits that are found in vision-masters and women tended to develop more of the traits of the execution-master.

Again, this is generally speaking!

One problem that women in leadership positions face is the social pressure to act and think like men, to succeed in a man’s world.  Doing so limits their ability to contribute a unique perspective to a company’s leadership team – say as a top execution-master.  Sallie Krawchek, LinkedIn influencer and CEO/founder of Ellevest and previously CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and U.S. Trust, points out that thinking and behaving like men doesn’t help business women and doesn’t help the companies they work for. Paraphrasing her, “Women, don’t behave like a man; we have enough of them already.”

In her article, Why are We Still Telling Women to Act like Men at Work, Sallie tears into the myth of women succeeding by acting like men.  She implores female leaders to stop ignoring what they could bring uniquely to the workplace and to start acting and thinking like women do naturally.  Of course, this advice does not apply to every woman.  In general, however, I agree, because I want to see more women AND businesses succeed.

An additional point I’ve not made elsewhere is key to getting funded:  When presenting you and your team to investors, go into great depth about your team characteristics and values, both shared and complementary, otherwise the investors may not think to ask. Once they hear about the details of your team composition, they will surely be impressed. Be sure to emphasize the balance of complementary leadership styles and thinking styles on your team, as indicated by the work-style assessment tests. This is information that they don’t normally hear and stand out.

In addition, emphasize the many shared desirable traits on your team, such as those listed above in this post.  Further, make sure you emphasize social, political and/or spiritual values that your team shares, as this may create a common bond with your investors.

Smart investors, the ones you want, will be impressed and intrigued by your attention to team attributes that go far beyond “track record” and “experience.”  In fact, this kind of presentation will tend to compensate for any relative deficiencies in your team’s track record and experience. Again, it’s the presence of these different traits within your team that counts, not necessarily the gender make-up. But if you are a female senior executive and you naturally express the execution-master qualities, seek a team or a position within your current team that lets you express those traits. They’re needed! The same is true if you are a male that naturally expresses the vision-master traits. And, vice-versa for both genders. Getting people of both genders into their best natural roles, where they express their best skills and talents, makes your overall team strongest.

Takeaway:  If you are an innovative founder, a vision-master, whether you’re a man or woman, you are well served by bringing an execution-master onto your team as early as possible by enrolling them in your vision, long before you can afford high salaries.  Execution-masters are very often women or men with an alternative orientation, thus expanding diversity at the top of growing companies. Assessment tools can help identify the mindsets and traits needed on your team, to see what’s missing, and to identify the missing traits in a new executive team hire. The strongest teams are those where all key persons are in positions that best express their natural skills and talents, regardless of gender.