Many leaders have heard of a Mastermind or a Personal Support Team. Another beneficial team I recommend for leaders who want to excel is one I fondly call The Dream Team.
A dream team is a loose collection of advisors who help you get where you want to be as a leader. You turn to them because you know that on your path to success, they are further along than you. These might include people like
• leaders you admire
• leaders who have the positions you want to hold
• leaders who have the skills you want to have
• leaders who have achieved what you want to achieve.
You meet with them one by one to ask them questions, seek their guidance, and learn from their experience.
Think of your dream team like Fantasy Football team. You never actually assemble these people; in this respect they aren’t a functioning “team.” However, like a real dream team, every member of this group has been hand-selected because together, they represent the best of everything you need to be the leader you aspire to be.
To set up a dream team, you brainstorm all of the people who you think would be good members of a team whose sole purpose is to help you win at the “game” of achieving your vision. You take some time to analyze the different ways they might be able to help, make a plan for eliciting their support, and start meeting with them one by one to see what you can learn.
To create your Dream Team, use these six steps.
1. Choose the “game.”
“Choose the game” means get clear on specifically why you want a dream team. What do you want to learn from meeting with your dream team members? As always, the answer should be tied to your vision. The focus of the game is learning. On your dream team you’re the rookie, if only in this one area of your life.
2. Pick the “players.”
“Pick the players” means being thoughtful and strategic about who gets on the team. This is not the time to hang out with good buddies and old friends; it’s a time to branch out and build new relationships with people from whom you can truly learn. Among the group, it is helpful to have:
Advocates. Advocates champion you, encourage you, and contribute directly to your success, perhaps by introducing you to influential people or making you a part of their team.
Experts. Experts have information and knowledge you need to be successful. Instead of learning it all the hard way, experts help you jump to new levels of awareness by sharing their experience.
Inspirations. Inspirations are people whose accomplishments make you want to be better yourself. As you watch a person who inspires you – whether that person is your most courageous colleague, a person who has risen to the top of her field, or just someone whose approach to life you admire – you are moved to a higher level of contribution and achievement.
These roles will often cross. In fact, people who can play more than one role on your team are often your strongest supporters.
3. Set the “rules.”
The “rules” of your dream team game are how you want to play. If you don’t set up the process in a way you’ll enjoy it, you’ll be less likely to see it through. Do you want your team members to meet with you for informal conversation? Or would you prefer a formal introduction with a letter and a follow-up phone call? Are you looking for a five minute meeting in person, a fifteen-minute phone call with another, a meeting over lunch? It’s a good idea to decide how you want the process to play out so you put your best foot forward and feel comfortable along the way.
4. Define a “win.”
What is the best case scenario for this dream team?
• Are you hoping to develop long term relationships?
• Do you just want a lot of information fast?
• Do you want complex information and are willing to talk to as many people as it takes to get there?
This step is important, because it respects the time of the leaders whose advice you’re seeking while also meeting the goals that matter most to you. If what you want is concrete advice on how to set up a sole proprietorship, you can get it in a series of short, one-shot interviews. On the other hand, if you want to become steeped in the culture of high-quality leadership, you’ll want to develop deeper, more substantial relationships with the people whose work you admire.
5. Get in the game!
“Getting in the game” means approaching the people you admire to be on your team – asking them to meet with you, talking to them, and applying what you learn as you work toward your vision. If a meeting with one of your dream team members turns out to be beneficial, great. Ask them if they would mind meeting again. If not, fine. You’ve made a good connection. Some of these conversations will turn out to be a waste of time. Others will turn into the kinds of mentorships that last a lifetime.
Remember, the work you do with your dream team is not pandering or political maneuvering. There should be nothing in this process that smacks of manipulation. These are genuine, respectful conversations with people you admire to request the support you would be willing to give someone who asked it of you.
You’ll eventually find you can achieve more, and faster, when you are supported by a strong and experienced team.
For guidance on creating your Dream Team, use the free Dream Team Planning Guide. (Click here or go to www.TheInnerEdge.com, click on Worksheets & Audios, and scroll down to the 7th Practice for more free guides.)
Please join us for The Inner Edge Book Club! This month we will be creating our unique Dream Teams to advance our visions with the support of those we see as our inspiration. For more information, click here or email info@TheInnerEdge.com.