How can we see the greatness in others?

5 ways to build a great team

Someone recently told me that being an entrepreneur is all about seeing greatness within yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I love a hero as much as anyone, the lone innovator enduring unthinkable hardships while pushing beyond physical and mental limits until the world is forever changed.

But here’s the thing.

Entrepreneurship is a team sport. Nothing great has ever been accomplished alone, and even the greatest entrepreneurs of our time work with a committed and brilliant team. Bold ideas are just ideas unless there’s a crew to back it up.

So here are five ways to see the greatness in others.


1. The fastest way to think outside of the box is to talk to someone who disagrees with you.

Push yourself and your ideas by surrounding yourself with people that don’t see things the same way you do. Humans are great problem solvers, but we are quick to jump to solutions based on our own knowledge. A different perspective doesn’t have to be a point of conflict and can provide great insight and context. The more varying and diverse viewpoints at the table the better.


2. Your weaknesses are your greatest strengths.

We all have things we’re not good at – I am terrible at seeing the steps between today and our long term vision. I’m bad at spelling, punctuality and chairing meetings. Park the ego and have an honest and vulnerable conversation with your team and let the division of tasks fall naturally. At Community Forests International we’ve got some highly organized individuals and some scattered creative types and together we can execute new engaging ideas. Be honest about your weaknesses and use them as an opportunity to create space for others.


3. Be good at being wrong.

On a great team, where there is a lot of trust and mutual respect you can share your ideas without the fear of judgment. Some of our organization’s best ideas have come from our worst ideas – create a safe space for bad ideas and let these ideas evolve and grow. If you’re scared of being shot down chances are you won’t ever take the mental leap necessary to launch a truly disruptive idea. Be good at being wrong and create an environment where those around you can take chances without the fear of judgment or failure.


4. Negative energy is a dream killer.

Avoid people that say no and can’t.  The people closest to you and your dreams can’t bring the can’t do attitude to the table. And if you’re the one injecting negative energy into your mission? Take a vacation. I have seen my own negativity change our entire office dynamic and I’ve seen good ideas stagnate because someone would rather complain than take action. Protect your team from negativity and focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.


5. Share everything.

CEOs, executives and managers who don’t share information suck. Full stop. Information is power so empower those around you. The more agency, tools and resources your team members have, the greater the whole. Share what you’re working on, your leads, your successes and your greatest challenges. The more your team knows the stronger you will all be.




Jeff Schnurr is the founder of Community Forests International, an environmental start-up that leverages entrepreneurship to combat climate change. He was recently named EY Entrepreneur of the YearÔ 2015 Special Citation Social Entrepreneurship.

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