This blog highlights the key traits of a winning team. It is the second installment of what I’m referring to as the ‘Success Factors Trilogy’ and focuses on success factors associated specifically with a founding team. The first article of the trilogy focused on personal success factors and the fundamental indicators that help to identify an individual as a high performer. The third part of the trilogy will cover success factors as they relate to a company.

When building a team, we tend to look first at the individual characteristics of each team member. One by one, we evaluate potential team members for traces of talent and work ethic. However, similar to trying to solve a mathematical equation, while only one variable is technically necessary, it may not be sufficient to solve the equation. Talent and hard work are valuable characteristics but are only the first building blocks of creating a winning team. From my experience, the following factors are necessary to cultivate an ecosystem that enables members of a founding group to becoming a highly effective and successful team.

  • Complementary Skills – Each member of the team should possess a diverse skill; management, sales, marketing, engineering, financial prowess or customer service. It’s extremely rare for a single person to have all of these skills however, if you can assemble a team that, as a whole, encompasses such diversity each member will blend cohesively and feel an equal sense of worth for their contributions.
  • Obsession with success –Individual or team success will not happen in a straight line. The team will experience ups and downs, especially in the early stages of company evolution. It is vital that each member of the team exhibits the dedication and total commitment to achieving individual goals and contributes to the long term objectives of the team.
  • Adaptability – There is a high likelihood that during the early life of the company, the founding team may experience external market and technological constraints which may make it necessary to pivot. The founding team must be able and willing to accept rapid changes to accommodate changing market conditions.
  • Team players – There is no I in team and definitely no room for a Prima Donna in the group! Individual contributors must “check their ego at the door” and focus on the team goals. As stated by Vince Lombardi, the legendary NFL Coach of the Green Bay Packers: “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
  • Solution Oriented/Problem Solvers – I cannot stress enough how important this trait is for the whole founding team to enable the company to evolve from its fledgling position, to completing a MVP (Minimally Viable Product), to initial sales and then to scaling. The ability to solve problems along the way in an efficient and effective fashion will increase the company’s ability to succeed.
  • Dream BIG – In order to create focus and drive for the founding team, it is important to define, at the very onset of the company launch, an overarching BIG dream that everyone can rally around. I think American writer William Arthur Ward said it best when he said, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”

I truly believe that the above factors are the secret sauce for determining a team’s success and failure. Each member of the team should ask themselves whether they have seen these factors in action and reflect on how they have impacted their team’s success.


Written by

Eli Fathi

Eli has been a technology entrepreneur for the past 30 years and has founded or cofounded a number of companies with a few successful exits. Currently, he is the CEO of a company offering automated fraud detection platform. Eli was the cofounder of Fluidware Corporation, an Internet software company offering Software as a service (SaaS) online applications based on collaborative feedback. He was the co-CEO from inception until the acquisition by SurveyMonkey.

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