Why Getting the Right People is Key to Building a Kick-Ass Team


This post is part of a series on the 5 Keys to Building a Kick-Ass Team.

When the rubber meets the road, what kind of team can you trust to get you across the finish line? Think beyond the skill sets and backgrounds you need. That’s only part of the equation. What personality traits and work styles would make your team most effective? Do you want clones of yourself or people who will challenge you to think differently?

When I joined the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office to help drive performance management and process improvement across the City’s 14 departments and agencies, my first thought was about the people. I asked myself, “Who in my network could join me to create an amazing team?” I reached out to a former colleague from Bain & Company who had the analytical chops and get-things-done tenacity to drive big change. But, I also knew I didn’t want a team of folks just like me. I also wanted someone with completely different work experiences and different approaches to problem solving. So, I reached out to an old friend from college who knew the ins and outs of city government. He was especially skilled at combining his soft touch with a collaborative work style.

The three of us overhauled the City’s performance management program by creating sound operational and strategic metrics, automated processes for capturing data, and internal controls to ensure the accuracy of that data. That doesn’t mean we didn’t face challenges. Like when our proposal to conduct citywide audits (after uncovering numerous inaccuracies and methodological flaws in one high-profile department’s metrics) faced fierce internal opposition. Or, when resource constraints threatened to stretch those citywide audits well past the year-long timeline we’d initially projected.

With each challenge, the key to our success was our ability to problem-solve as a team of individuals who could see issues from starkly different vantage points, put our unique perspectives on the table, and collaborate on innovative solutions.


When building your team, make sure to ask these questions:

  • What skill sets and backgrounds do I need?
  • What personality traits and work styles would make my team most effective?
  • Do I want clones of myself or people who will challenge me to think differently?

What other questions do you ask when building a team? I’d love to read your comments below.

If you’re in the process of building a team and would like to talk more, feel free to connect and shoot me a message.