How to Build a Winning Team

18 ways to strengthen the heart of your organization.

By Inc.

We asked the members of the 2020 Female Founders 100 for their best advice about bringing people onto the team. These are the highlights.

Davida Herzl

Show up as your true self in front of your team every single day. There’s this myth of the person who is hyper-confident, who has all the answers, who has an unshakable clarity of vision–that’s not human and it’s not true. When you bring people into your journey, they will go to the end of the world.

Saundra Pelletier

Evofem Biosciences
When I interview potential hires, I ask, “If money, time, and talent were no object, and tomorrow morning you could do it all over again, what would you do?” It changes their whole demeanor. Later, I ask, “If I were to call your former supervisor or co-worker, and ask them to tell me something amazing about you and to tell me something constructive about you, what do you think they’d say?” You would not believe the stuff they tell me. One candidate said to me, “I guess my former supervisor would say that I have a really terrible mean streak and sometimes I can be very oppressive.” Wow.

Elizabeth Stein

Purely Elizabeth
When I had to make my first hire, I really liked two candidates with two totally different skill sets. I could afford only one position, so I hired both part time. Suddenly I had a team, and that created a totally different kind of atmosphere at the company.

Zawadi Bryant

NightLight Pediatrics
Each co-founder needs to know their lane. I’m a businesswoman, not a doctor, and my co-founder, who’s a physician, doesn’t like business. So there’s a clear demarcation.

Adena Hefets

Divvy Homes
Delegate more. Speak less, and let a rotating cast host town halls and all-hands meetings.

Kristin Groos Richmond

Richmond Revolution Foods
Our company is 66 percent female and 86 percent people of color. Forty-four percent of our managers are leaders of color. That has been a key part of our success–building our team in a way that supports the mission of listening to and responding to and designing for the communities we serve.

JJ Ramberg

Even when somebody’s saying something that you think is completely wrong, take the time to listen–and give yourself the space to evaluate.

Terri-Nichelle Bradley

Brown Toy Box
Look for people who match the thing that’s most important to you. For me, it’s being mission-aligned. This is something that can really change children’s lives.

Sarah Tuneberg

The misogyny in the venture capital and startup software world is real. It’s not the woman’s job to be funny and smart and come up with the perfect one-liner in a moment when someone has crossed a boundary. Just try to be present in the moment and focus on your safety. Walk away. Then tell people about it.

Hadley Douglas

The Urban Grape
So many people start a small business for the passion, and forget that you really need to surround yourself with a great business coach, an incredible bookkeeper, and a really good accountant, and you need to have a business lawyer on hand. Without them, you can find you are not running a profitable business or a business that you understand.

Tonya Lanthier

Get the passive-aggressive people out of your life. Get the negativity out of your life, because it is contagious.

Shelly Sun

BrightStar Care
Hire for where your business will be in two years, not for where it is now. Your people will be able to stay with you longer and you’ll get off the hamster wheel of churning talent.

Vanessa Ogle

People say you can’t keep Millennials in a job. That’s so not true. My young employees come to work with me and stay, because they get to be themselves.

Kristen Denzer

Tierra Encantada
When I screen franchisees, I ask, “Who is more important, the employee or the client?” The answer is the employee. Without good employees, you won’t have any clients.

Snigdha Sur

The Juggernaut
Hire slow and fire fast. Even when you’re running on fumes and you really need another person, take your time. There is so much value in making sure you find someone you completely trust and who trusts you, even if it might take a few extra months.

Melissa Butler

The Lip Bar

Anyone can be a CEO. Anyone can decide to start a business. But to actually have a team of people who believe in your vision, who want to execute on it, who believe in you, and believe in the best of the company, that takes a lot of personal development and professional development.

Sonia Strobel 

Skipper Otto
Don’t try to do it alone. It’s better to really align yourself with smart people with great networks. That’s been key for us–having a real diversity of skills among a small team of people. And leaning heavily on all the wonderful networks of women supporting women.

Shiza Shahid

Our Place
Nobody can build anything by themselves. Yes, you can muscle through the first
few months in the first few stages of growth, but the size and success of your business
is going to depend on the talent you identify.

© Inc. 2020

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