Team Building: Developing an “A” Team That Delivers Better Results Than You, Without You

How good are you at team building – developing a team so strong there’s not much you need to do? Learn how to build an A team that delivers better results than you, without you.

It’s the dream of most leaders and entrepreneurs to no longer be required by their business. But unfortunately, as things grow, they get so used to being at the center of everything, and always buried, that they get stuck here.

So the question is, “How good are you at building a team so strong there’s not much you need to do?”

Here’s a quote from Harvey Firestone, founder of the Firestone Tire Company, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” And I couldn’t agree more. Our job as leaders is to lead people to greatness, to lead them in a way where they grow stronger and get better – and better, and better.

And truly, a leader in a Fortune 500 company is not that different than a school teacher of seven-year-old children. It’s the same principle: Taking people who have an existing skillset, and trying to have them acquire, at the end of the year, a higher skill set.

As leaders, that’s all we’re supposed to do – although, sometimes, we get so caught up in the work, we forget we’re supposed to grow people.

Key point: Build a team that delivers better results than you, without you.

Better results without your assistance – that is the ultimate success of a leader. You can tell that because, when the leader steps away, the team continues to thrive.

You need to work on this if:

  • Your team isn’t chock-full of A players.
  • You cling to one or more “Toxic A’s” because you think the results that they give you are worth the havoc
  • Anyone on your team, or anyone on your direct report team is a C player.
  • Your interview process consists of a series of 60 to 90-minute interviews with some clever or interesting questions.
  • You hire people without test-driving their talents. People are wonderful at telling you how good they are, you need to see them in action first before you hire them.

Team Assessment Exercise

Download the Chapter 10 Team Building Worksheets for exercises that will help you understand and plot your existing team. If you’re a CEO, you want to plot your direct reports, as well as their direct reports. Initially, we’ll just talk about your direct reports (but generally, as a leader, you should be always focused two layers down.)

Worksheet notes:

  • Performance – Low on the left, high on the right.
  • Culture Fit – High and low.
  • Box A – These are the amazing people that we dream of having on our teams. They absolutely deliver the results, and naturally fit the culture. You trust them, they’re easy to work with.
  • Box B – These are also wonderful people who you naturally work really well with – they just don’t always deliver the goods. You often have to follow up, or hold their hand to get things done. They are great fit, not always great deliverers.
  • Box C – These are the people who don’t fit the culture of the company. They’re awkward, don’t fit well, aren’t normally trusted, and don’t deliver the results. These people need to find a job in a different company because they’re not a culture fit, they shouldn’t even be there.
  • Toxic A’s – These are high performers. They deliver the results, but they’re just generally jerks. They don’t fit the culture. They are irritating to other people. They drive people nuts. You cringe when you talk to them, or you cringe when you get an email from them. If you’re going to be a high-performing leader, the secret is to have a high performing team. And in my mind, there’s no room for anyone below the line, and you’ve got to be an A to stay. So, we’re focused on the top right box only.

Now, if you’re okay with being mediocre, have lots of people in the different areas, kind of have a well-rounded team. We don’t want that. We want high performers, top right box only, maybe a couple of B’s. In the companies that I work with, we do not allow people to stay below the line. If they are, we give them chances and opportunities to step up, but they’ll create so much havoc, they’ve got to go sooner or later. They’ve just chosen the wrong company to work at.

For more resources, check out Chapter 10 in Your Oxygen Mask First – we get into details about what to do with the A’s, the B’s, the C’s and, of course, the Toxic A’s. We’ve also got some information we share with you about the methodology of Topgrading (a phenomenal approach to hiring), and a few other tools to help you improve the people part of your business.


Building a team that is so strong that you’re almost useless, is an absolutely achievable goal. It might take three to five years. You need to make some really tough people decisions, and/or you may need to invest a whole bunch of time helping your existing team get stronger, or maybe modifying their roles to put them into a place where they can win.