star team

The idea for this post comes from being a fan of college basketball. I enjoy the action, excitement, and suspense of the games. But I also draw leadership, teamwork, and coaching insight from watching, too. As I’ve watched my beloved Purdue Boilermakers this winter, I’ve asked myself if it takes a team of stars to create a star team? Having thought about it a lot, I decided to write about it. Don’t worry, I promise this isn’t a post (just) for sports fans.

I’ll share my thinking by answering four questions and leaving some others for you to answer for yourself.

What Does a Star Team Look Like?

In sports a star team is one that wins with regularity, but also one that has a level of connection and cohesiveness that create a culture of success.  The same is true for us in our organizations. While winning may be defined differently, the point is the same.  Your team exists to produce specific outcomes and results – and a star team does that consistently with consistent efforts and contributions by all team members.

In other words, a star team gets great results together. While individuals bring different talents and experiences to the team, they succeed together because each individual views their role as more than their individual work, but as a part of the team.  In work as in sports, the best teams are greater together than they are individually.

What does your team look like – is it a collection of members or members who collectively reach their goals?

Is it Just Talent?

Certainly, you need people who have talent and experience. If you have a team writing software, people need to be able to code, and a sales team needs people with the ability to listen and persuade. Without a baseline of skills and experience team members and the team will struggle.  But even if you have the best coders and salespeople does it guarantee a star team?

I’m confident that your personal experience and even your intuition tells you that it isn’t only talent that makes a great team.  Before I share part of my list, ask yourself, what do I want on my team besides talent?

What Else Is It?

Here is a partial list of the attitudes, values, and traits that I think set a star team apart.

Desire, caring, about the work and their teammates, a positive attitude, the desire to be engaged in a team, the willingness to be coached, the desire to help and support others.  Great team members see themselves as a part of a team and are not on the team to exhibit their prowess as much as to use their abilities to support team success.

All these things matter, and none of them require the ability to do a specific kind of work and won’t be nearly as easily seen on a resume (or stat sheet at the end of the game).

So What Will You Look For?

This is a recruiting or selection question, but a coaching question too. You can hire for the traits we are talking about, but you can also expect them, coach to them, and create a culture of them too.  But you can’t do any of that if you aren’t clear about what you are looking for beyond the raw talent, skill and experience.

What are the values, traits (as well as the skills) you most want and need to build your star team?

Once you are clear on your answer to that question you have a far better chance of creating and leading that team. But if you don’t think about that, you will likely miss the qualities you most need to build the team you want.


Do you need a practical guide to design your team and culture to get great results? If so you need a copy of our new book The Long-Distance Team: Designing Your Team For Everyone’s Success. Learn more, read a sample chapter, and order a copy for yourself and your team members here.

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Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group ( He has spent nearly 30 years helping organizations across North America, and leaders from around the world, on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication and more.
Twice he has been named by as one of the top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in the World and has been included in many other similar lists.

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