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Getting the Band Together: How to Build a World-Class Team

How do the world's best bands work? Alignment and accountability for one. Playing off each other's strengths. Winning and losing together through the great gigs and bad gigs, and boldly improvising and innovating as a team. 

Ever since I was 12 years old, I've known how to assemble and lead a band. Today, as the head of a legaltech software company, my role feels similar to a band manager, only this time I'm not putting on a local performance. Instead, I'm gathering a team of headliners for the performance of a lifetime.

My band has three stars in the spotlight--marketing, the software (and the people building it), and revenue--but a lot goes into making it all possible. As with musical performances, the show cannot happen without the supporting staff and road crew: lighting, audio, rigging, ticket sales, and tour support. In our company that involves everything from operations, to finance, to employee management.

Everything I do is to support the performance. The collective team doesn't work for me--I work for them. Because when the tour starts (at the beginning of each quarter), our performance calls on the skills of everyone involved. There must be consistency from every corner of the team, on and offstage, to help everything go smoothly and deliver a high-quality experience.

Here are five ways I have recruited and retained the team on stage, and all the people who make their success possible.

1. Pay well

Bring on leadership strategically, based on business needs at each early stage, and give them a competitive salary, including equity. You are truly investing in your future success. When my co-founder and I were starting, we operated on meager wages so we could finance our executive hires. If you're a small company, bring your team on in phases, and make sure you can pay them what they're worth.

2. Prioritize diversity

Executive teams need unique thinkers rather than a hive mind. Diverse perspectives, communication, and leadership styles create a dynamic environment that leads to innovation. Running a company requires creating space for others to share ideas, and the best teams make each other and the company better. So don't be afraid to hire the contrarian, the visionary, or the non-traditional hire. If they can positively impact your team and your future, go for it.

3. Hire smart people...

Hiring intelligent people should be a no-brainer, but surprisingly ego or fear can get in the way. Some CEOs feel the need to be the smartest person in the room and are averse to surrounding themselves with the brightest and most capable people. If you want to be the best, you need to fill your executive team with experts in their field, then step aside and allow them to work.

Not only does this ensure you have the most competent people running your company, but it also trickles down to their respective business units. Recruiting solid employees requires having innovative and inspiring leaders in the right places. 

 4. ...that you like and trust

Credentials matter, but don't overlook the value of chemistry and value alignment. Not only did I hire people who were much smarter than me, but they were truly good people I trusted and enjoyed being around. A team with great chemistry and industry expertise will get results, regardless of their academic or professional pedigree. It is easier to get through stressful and more difficult business conditions with people you genuinely respect, know, and like to be around.

 5. Don't overlook retention

Building an executive team can take time, especially if you're a small company. You need to carefully nurture a welcoming environment that makes people eager to stay and contribute to the company's vision. Filling your executive team with diverse leaders will attract a broader range of employees because they see themselves in your team and the DNA of your business. To keep those employees, you need to find ways to allow that diversity to thrive, and ensure your company reflects the many personalities, cultures, and interests that make it up. Introduce diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies from the top down and encourage natural connections from the bottom up. Slack channels, book clubs, lunch and learns, all of these can help form pocket communities that create belonging and reduce turnover.

Great performances are made up of so much more than what the audience sees. While the stars on stage get outside attention and accolades, it would be impossible without the entire crew and supporting team. From recruiting your on-stage performers to filling supporting roles with best-in-class skills and mindsets, you need to think about what will attract and retain the very people who will make your show possible.

This article was originally published by Inc. Check it out here.

Vishal Sunak is the co-founder and CEO of LinkSquares.