This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 6-September-2012 issue
Complementary skills are vital for your team to succeed. This sounds like a simple concept, but it’s much harder to get right in practice.
In my experience, I’ve seen that some entrepreneurs are ideas-people who are strong at conceiving ideas, whereas others of us are more operations/implementation-people who get things done. Very few individuals are both. You definitely need both skillsets to make a successful business happen. So if the entrepreneur doesn’t have both, you need to have someone on your team who has the skillset you lack.
In the case of my business MBAconnect.net, I’m strong on the operations side, having come from a project management background, whereas my husband Gavin is extremely strong on the ideas and innovation side. So we brainstorm and strategise together, he comes up with ideas, and I hone and implement, which works well. This complementarity also helps us rein each other in: without my operations focus he would start numerous businesses and never get past start-up stage, whereas without his ideas I would focus too much on the doing and incremental improvements, and not enough on introspection and new bigger-picture strategies. As a result of this complementary synergy, we have so much planned for MBAconnect.net and for his businesses (also web-based), but the implementation process is slowed somewhat due to budget and resources.
Ever had the feeling in a job interview that you just click with that person you’re interviewing? This should be a red flag for you. The danger in many companies is to hire people that you click with, who are often too similar to you. So you may have too many ideas people who lack focus and never get things done, or too many operations people who gets lots done, but don’t ever move the business forward with new strategies and ideas.
As a leader, do you have the humility to hire your alter ego and to let them outshine you in the areas where you’re weak? If you don’t, this could be standing in the way of your team’s success.