For most of the working world, being a part of a team is a given. But the team you’re a part of can have a huge impact on your own performance, your motivation, and your success at work. The saying “teamwork makes the dream work” might be an over-used motivational one-liner, but to really get that dream-like scenario in the workplace it’s important to ensure you’ve got the right team to work with. In his fourth pillar, Stephen Bartlett explores the importance of ‘The Team’, and presents some real-world examples that will help guide business and team leaders to shape their ideal teams.
Bartlett is helping to revolutionise our approach to business and life through his strategies for success and his own personal experiences. In this final instalment of a four-part blog series, we continue to explore the insights Bartlett shares through his 33 laws, as detailed in his book, 'The Diary of a CEO: The 33 Laws of Business and Life.' If you missed the last set of laws, you can catch up on our breakdown of Bartlett’s third pillar here.
Through this blog series, we're uncovering how Bartlett's laws can help to transform your sales strategy while also supporting your ongoing personal growth. Bartlett’s laws can provide fresh perspective and a range of insights for all sales professionals that will make your path to success that little bit more considered, and a whole lot smoother.
Who is Steven Bartlett?
Steven Bartlett, born in 1992 in Botswana, is a prominent figure known for his success and diverse roles as a founder, entrepreneur, public speaker, investor, and author. His early life was marked by contrasts, with an illiterate mother who left school at seven and a father who was a highly educated structural engineer. After facing educational challenges and setbacks himself, including expulsion from school and dropping out of university, Bartlett persevered and went on to achieve significant success.
Despite these challenges, Bartlett emerged resilient, achieving success in various capacities. Renowned as a top performer, he has excelled as a founder, entrepreneur, public speaker, investor, author, and the distinguished host of the UK's leading podcast, 'The Diary of a CEO'. Despite initial rejection at the audition level for Dragon’s Den, Bartlett persisted and became the youngest-ever Dragon to join the panel, making a significant impact in the business and entrepreneurial world.
Bartlett has engaged in conversations with renowned experts and leaders on a global scale, interviewing them for his podcast and in preparation for his latest book. The principles presented by Bartlett, along with the wisdom shared by his interviewees, offer universally valuable guidance for anyone interested in self-development, both on a personal and work-life level. Bartlett’s main focus is on guiding people to success and his 33 laws outline the stepping stones for you to get there.
Pillar 3: The Team
Bartlett’s ‘33 Laws of Business and Life’ are broken down into four pillars: The Self,The Story, The Philosophy, and The Team. In this article, we’re focusing on the fourth pillar. The Team pillar is ultimately a set of guidelines for how to build a strong team to work around you, and essential tips for how to get the best out of those people.
In sales, it is up to the manager of those teams to make sure they are building a strong and adaptable team. Team managers must recognise the strengths and weaknesses of each individual within their team and offer the necessary support to each to help them reach their potential. Bartlett believes that a great team isn’t just made up of brilliant individuals but is also shaped by the culture in which those employees are positioned.
Bartlett’s fourth set of laws outline the importance of The Team for developing a strong, positive and creative culture. It is by harnessing a great culture that the top employees can thrive. Here are Bartlett’s final set of lessons that sales managers, team leaders, and management can take from laws 28-33:
Ask who not how
Bartlett’s 28th law focuses on how to build an incredible team that will help you reach success by working smarter, not harder. Referencing billionaire British businessman, Richard Branson, Bartlett outlines the common problem many CEOs face: assuming they have to be good at everything to have a legitimate place leading a company. However, for Branson, the question was always more about what he could do to create the best company in its sector. For example, Branson, recognising that he was not great with financials, made sure he hired the best person he could who was great at just that one thing. It was one thing less for Branson himself to worry about and freed him up to find the next great person who could take on another responsibility. Branson didn’t have to be an expert at everything, he just had to be great at one thing: finding the people to make his team better.
Founders, in particular, tend to take the pressure of running a company entirely on their own shoulders. For Bartlett, that’s a mindset that will lead you to failure. As a company, and as a founder or CEO, the strength of that enterprise comes from the group of people you assemble to help run it. Bartlett admits that he had struggled with the idea at first, confessing he felt that he wasn’t a real CEO because he would delegate tasks he wasn’t good at, to those in his team who could do it better. It had worked well for Bartlett and his company was thriving, but there was still a sense of imposter syndrome that he was at the head of a company doing well, but he couldn't do it all himself. Some years on, Bartlett is now very much a believer that it is the role of the CEO to build a great team. CEOs must recruit the best talent they can, the smartest people they can, so that they in turn can tell the CEO what must be done for the company to improve.
“You are arecruitment company – that's your priority, and founders that realise this,build world-changing companies.”
Talking with Jimmy Carr, Bartlett and Carr also discuss the expectation that people ought to be “all-rounders”. It’s something we’re all familiar with, but Carr questions whether the schooling system is right to teach students to aim for mediocrity, to be good a lot of things rather than to be great at just one or two. Carr goes on to say: “we live in a world that does not reward all-rounders", which is something sales teams can also relate to. Consider your own company, your own sales team - it’s most likely that it’s only ever the top billers who you see winning MVP nominations, who get the big bonuses, the all-expenses-paid trips, and that we also see filling our LinkedIn feeds. Sadly, for an average salesperson fame and glory is a long way off. But what sales team leads can learn here, is to encourage those more mediocre team members to focus on one element that they’re great at and build their strategy around that. Rather than trying to emulate the tactics of their team heroes, they ought to focus on their own skillset and use that to their advantage.
Create a cult mentality
Needless to say, understanding the messaging in this law is important. Bartlett is not recommending creating a cult but is saying that we can harness the power of groupthink by creating a great culture. Some of the very biggest companies we know today, household names, got to that point because they created a cult-like following. Think of Apple, CrossFit, Nike, and Starbucks, to name but a few. They have all created an ethos, a commitment to specific values, that their customers so appreciate and resonate with, that they will queue up for their products or services and spend months of savings of their hard-earned money just to have the brand’s next product. There is a collective belief in the company and what it stands for, that is so powerful it motivates its ‘followers’ to shape their lives around their brand.
For a company to cultivate this attitude within their own teams, they need to build a team with employees who can think and act independently, but who live and breathe the product they work on because they believe in it. It is a cult-like commitment to your company’s (or team’s) specific values that you must aim to cultivate. When growing your team, you must look to hire the employees who will fit into the culture of your company, become team players, and who will be proud of their work and the company as a whole. The individual members of your team must be passionate about what you are building. In sales teams, we must also consider our hiring choices and opt not for the top biller who seems to think themselves above the rest of the team, but instead hire the option who has a hunger to learn and grow, and who makes those they talk to feel as at ease as they themselves appear.
However, for most companies, this cult-like following is not viable as a long-term solution for the success of a business. The energy and belief that the groupthink phenomenon generates can be powerful when used to launch and start a business or a new team. To instil in your team a sense of belief, enthusiasm, and possibility, can provide the momentum to get your team fully engaged and all focused in the same direction. You must be prepared to adapt and develop new strategies though, for when focus shifts to achieving long-term company objectives.
If the culture isstrong, new people will become like the culture. If the culture is weak, theculture will become like the new people.
The three bars for building great teams
To build a truly great team, Bartlett repeats the importance of culture. Referencing Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the world’s most successful football managers, Bartlett states: “Culture and values – not just players and tactics – determine a team's success.” Ferguson, who is widely known for developing a strong sense of culture at Manchester United, said that for him, culture was the most important thing, and he saw that as his direct responsibility as a leader of the team. He believed that the teams' values need to be instilled in new players immediately, but also must be upheld by all employees, from coaching staff and players to senior executives, at all times.
Ferguson famously got rid of some of his most valuable players because they challenged the culture he was trying to develop. The well-known saying, “one bad apple can spoil the bunch”, is at the centre of this cultural value. Ferguson believed that to protect the integrity and culture of his team, he had to remove any toxic influences before they could infect the rest of the team and before that negativity could spread and lead to disengagement in other team members.
For Bartlett, this is where his ‘three bars’ framework comes in. As a device, this framework will help team leaders to identify the positive influences within their teams, as well as identifying those who will ultimately only bring the team down. Bartlett makes it simple, advising hiring managers to ask themselves just one question when faced with a potential new hire: if everyone in the team embodied that individual’s cultural values, would the cultural bar be raised, maintained or lowered? For sales teams (as with any team), this provides a great baseline for gauging who ought to be promoted or fired. Cultivate those who raise the bar, and weed out those who are choking the team around them. By assessing new recruits by this standard too, you can ensure you’re always working to raise the bar, rather than introducing negative influences that ultimately won’t last in your team anyway.
Leverage the power of progress
Everyone loves the feeling of winning, and Bartlett says if you can harness this, you’ll be on your way to growing a team who are passionate, loyal, and focused. To feel a connection with a ‘win’ or with hitting a milestone, your people must feel that they have been a part of the progress that has delivered them to achieving that success. Bartlett uses British Cycling and Sir David Brailsford’s theory of marginal gains to illustrate this law, outlining how he introduced the idea of focusing on incremental improvements to lead the team to success (and medals).
Brailsford, when interviewed by Bartlett, said: “People want a feeling of progression, and if we aim for perfection, we’ll fail, because perfection is so far away. So instead of perfection, let’s have a little progression, just a little, and that’ll make us feel good... Tiny progress means a lot to people, and when they feel it, they realise they can do it again tomorrow.” This law focuses on not going for glory but looking for more marginal gains. Once people can see and feel that they are moving, making small amounts of progress, their mentality shifts, they’re on the move, and suddenly the small steps of progress keep coming, building momentum.
People feel good when they can see their efforts paying off, but making too big of a change is not sustainable. A huge change is hard work, takes more energy, more sacrifice, and more time to come to fruition. But when people feel good, they have more energy, ideas, and inclination to take suggestions or try something new, with the focus on their continued growth and development. Bartlett notes from this, that progress is linked more to emotion and feeling than it is to statistics. As long as people feel like they’re achieving something, it doesn’t matter how small an improvement it is, that feeling will help to motivate them to continue on the path of progression. For sales team leaders, there is a key lesson here: incremental changes to targets are key for long-term success. Training and development are essential in the onboarding process with new hires, but a longer, slower ‘ramping up’ period is far more likely to lead to sustained success, than throwing them in the deep end and seeing if they sink or swim.
For those looking to develop their existing teams, this law also holds valuable advice. Use KPIs to set incremental goals for your team. Once they start seeing the dial flicker and begin to move, you can start to increase the KPI targets, and soon your team will be gaining momentum on those targets. You need to introduce clear, actionable goals, as well as some smaller interim goalposts for your team to focus on hitting too. Continuous forward momentum is far better than the stop-start effect commonly seen in teams focusing on the end goal, rather than the steps that get them there.
The most professionallyrewarding feeling in the world is a sense of forward motion.
You must be an inconsistent leader
Law 32 outlines how although team leaders must be fair to all, they also must recognise the individual needs and preferences of their team as individuals. While we may have always been taught that it should be “one rule for all” rather than the disparaging spurn of “one rule for you, and another for everyone else”, that’s not necessarily the best way to get the most out of your team.
Sir Alex Ferguson also recognised this need and was able to use it to his advantage during half-time talks, whipping the team back into a new fervour with renewed passion and energy. In his conversation with Bartlett, Ferguson recalls one half-time talk berating Patrice Evra, who had thought he was having the match of his life. Ferguson went into the changing rooms, waited for silence, then let rip at the best player he had on the pitch that match. While Evra sat there, biting his tongue in response, and confused over the outburst, his teammates were practically shaking in their boots. If Ferguson was that mad at Evra, nobody wanted to know what else he’d have to say to them. The team went back onto the pitch for the second half, determined not to let any mistake slip, invigorated to do their best, and perhaps a little terrified of the outcome if they did not. However, that match secured a 4 – 0 victory over the home team and is still considered one of their greatest away victories.
What Ferguson had done, was identified different strengths and weaknesses in his players, and used that to his advantage. He knew that Evra could handle a verbal bashing in front of his teammates, and he knew that the rest of the team would be motivated by witnessing that. Ferguson did not need to go through the whole team and offer them all feedback, critique, or motivation. He just needed to find the one player to confront which would shock the team out of complacency and reignite their need to secure the win.
For team leaders, it is important to recognise that blanket treatment, treating all individuals the same as though covered in the same blanket, doesn’t work. You need to know your team as individuals, know what makes them tick, what motivates them, and what they aim for. In your sales teams, not everyone will need the same level of guidance or advice and they won’t all find the same things motivating. To get the most from your team, you will need to push them as individuals, but comfort and support them individually too.
Learning never ends
Tying together laws 1, 2, and 19, Bartlett’s 33rd law is a promise to help ensure that knowledge is something you learn, continuously. For Bartlett, this comes in the shape of a commitment to his readers: “From now until forever, I’m going to send you one brand new law, every month...”. He believes that learning never ends, and just as knowledge is important, so is the act of learning, and by combining a growing knowledge base with continuous learning you can achieve continuous improvement.
Continuous learning is crucial for the success of sales teams as much as any other, as it fosters adaptability, innovation, and enhanced problem-solving skills. Teams that prioritise ongoing learning keep up with industry advancements, acquire new knowledge and techniques, and develop the flexibility needed to navigate challenges effectively. This commitment to learning not only boosts individual skill sets but also promotes a collaborative environment where team members can share insights, leading to increased creativity and overall team success.
Steven Bartlett's Laws of Business and Life, particularly focusing on 'The Team', provide invaluable insights for shaping successful and dynamic sales and revenue teams. As we explored throughout this four-part series, building the right team is fundamental to achieving your goals and driving sustained success. Here are some key takeaways from laws 28 to 33:
Focus on building an incredible team that works smarter, not harder, by asking yourself who not how. Who can help me do this, rather than, how do I do this? Embrace the idea that you don't have to be good at everything; instead, surround yourself with experts in specific areas.
You can cultivate a strong team culture by hiring individuals who align with your company's values – doing so will help you create a cult mentality. This will give your team the start-up energy and enthusiasm you need to get good momentum. You must encourage independent thinking while fostering a collective commitment to the company's mission.
You must prioritise culture and values over individual skills and tactics. By using Bartlett’s three bars for building great teams framework, you can assess whether a new hire raises, maintains, or lowers the cultural bar of your team.
By focusing on incremental improvements rather than seeking perfection, you can leverage the power of progress to motivate and empower your team. Harness the psychology of progress to engage your team, ensuring they feel a connection to each achievement.
It is important to remember that each individual on your team has their own individual needs and preferences. You must be an inconsistent leader to serve your team well, tailoring your leadership approach based on the strengths and weaknesses of each team member individually.
Learning never ends and so you should commit to continuous learning as a leader – and encourage your team to do the same. Embrace the idea that knowledge is dynamic, and continuous learning leads to continuous improvement.
Bartlett's fourth pillar, The Team, focuses on the importance of hiring and developing the right team for your company. It teaches you how to assemble and get the best out of your group of people and recognises that by hiring great people, who are bound by a great culture, your whole team can become stronger than the sum of its parts. Bartlett insists that continuous improvement, knowledge, and learning are key to this success and ought to remain at the core of our professional and personal growth. Incorporating these laws into the fabric of your team can be transformative, creating an environment where individuals thrive, innovation flourishes, and collective success becomes an achievable reality.
Okay, so there’s not a secret 34th law (according to Bartlett). However, if you want to continue learning more about how to set your sales team up for success, reach out for a demo of the Selligence platform today. By automating your prospecting efforts, Selligence can offer you back that much-needed time, so you and your team can focus on building relationships and closing deals.