Startups with high-performing teams perform better than those without.

But building a ridiculously efficient team can be tricky.

Egos, big personalities, and even silent types, can disrupt efficient teamwork, especially when needing to accomplish an amazing feat together fast.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Just look to the Avengers for lessons as to why.

They're a team made up of powerful individuals, but they come together to save the world.

Some have bigger personalities than others (*cough* Tony Stark *cough*) but they learn to work together, respecting each person’s unique contribution to the team, to get the job done.

It's a perfect case study that showcases what makes a great team:

➡ Each person is aware of their unique contribution (i.e., their superpower)

➡ The know how their superpower contributes to achieving the team goal (in this case defeating an enemy that threatens earth)

➡ They put aside their egos and individual needs to achieve team success

For startup teams, this means knowing each person's strengths while minimizing their weaknesses.

“The performance challenges that face companies in every industry…demand the kind of responsiveness, speed, on-line customization, and quality that is beyond the reach of individual performance. Teams bridge this gap.”
— Jon Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith, The Wisdom of Teams

To achieve Avenger-like teamwork, do the following 15-minute exercise. It'll help you get clear on everyone’s unique talents through a humble brag session. And make it clear to everyone on the team how each can contribute positively.

This is especially useful if the team is virtual, has become sluggish on achieving their goals and in need of a reboot, or meeting for the first time.


First, designate a team lead to facilitate this exercise.

This person will start by giving each team member one minute of uninterrupted time to talk about themselves, listing out all their accomplishments and positive qualities they bring to a team environment. They will write what they say, and they could say something like:

“I never miss the details.”
“I’m an excellent mediator and people person.”
“I’m great at analyzing data.”

Encourage people to be boastful, and create a safe space where everyone can explore what they believe are their best qualities.

The facilitator then asks everyone to write out their responses to the following questions on post-its:

1️. From what you said, what do you feel really good at doing that no one else is?
2️. How do you see those skills contributing to the group’s success?

Then follow the next step.


These four quadrants are known as the four thinking styles by which people process information.

Analytical people use logical reasoning.

Innovative people are creative and think outside the box.

Procedural people use systems to decipher and sort information.

And relational people are adept at using emotions to influence & manage relationships/situations

In the middle, “Talents in All Quadrants”, will be the space where you have talents that are common to most people: working independently, wanting to win, or working in a team environment

After you’ve drawn the quadrants, have everyone place their skillsets in the appropriate quadrant.


A four-person virtual-based team is assembled to handle an international project.

It includes Ashley, Mike, Tom, and Lauren.

They have worked together before and, while the team lead knows what everyone does via their titles, s/he uses this exercise to build a cohesive team environment and get everyone on the same page instanteously.

It could also uncover team blindspots that could prove deadly later on.

“Don’t aspire to be the best on the team. Aspire to be the best for the team.” — Unknown

There quadrants filled out would look like this:

For this team to create a high-performing, ridiculously efficient teamwork, duties and roles need to be structured according to their greatest thinking talent quadrant, which lessens the impact that ego may have on team success.

Each person would do the following:

Ashley — client representation / liaison that manages the account since she has two strong thinking talents in the relational quadrant.

Mike — in charge of gathering data and generating reports of team progress as he is both strong in procedural and analytical thinking.

Tom & Lauren — manipulate data and consider the big picture, making sure the team moves forward, as they are both strong in innovative and analytical thinking

This team would be structured like this and now everyone would be on the same page as to what each person does best.

Bottom line: rebooting creativity on a team requires spotlighting each person's strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. Give this exercise a try. You may be surprised what you learn from the team and how they can best be suited to do a job.

May 27, 2018

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