Three Tips for Building Strong Teams
By Collins Andrews
FIS Executive in Residence
The Venture Center Board Member
Since I’ve worked with The Venture Center, it’s been in a state of constant, positive transition. The evolution from being relatively unknown to a much broader and globally recognized organization – well, if you had said five years ago that this is where we’d be? I would have said you have a strong but ambitious strategic plan. The Venture Center has evolved into an effective organization by learning as it has grown. The growth has been deliberate and has included a focus to build and sustain an enthusiastic, high-performing team. The result is a team committed to the mission, a team that feels free to apply their most vital talents in the right places, and a team supported by The Venture Center leadership.
In my time as the FIS Executive-in-Residence at The Venture Center, I have been embedded at The Venture Center and see three overarching themes or principles contributing to the organization’s overall success. They are principles any leadership team can implement.
Sharing a Mission
The Venture Center operates around genuine concern for others and the idea that we are all successful if entrepreneurs are successful. This desire to enact change means that the team measures success by the outcomes for the people they work with because of the central focus on helping entrepreneurs thrive. Alignment of motivating factors and passion for the mission is essential. The team at The Venture Center has a wealth of both, and as a result, can not only execute a lot of work, but also achieve real results.
The Venture Center team is purposeful about fostering collaboration, and because of that, everyone displays the same willingness to do whatever necessary to make every program or initiative successful. This leaves you with a team of humble leaders — a group of individuals that will gladly empty the garbage or visit with the Governor. Great group dynamics, complementary skill sets, and strengths in various areas all contribute to a team-wide sense of collaboration.
With this much collaboration, mutual trust follows. Highly collaborative and trusting environments are a unique culture for driving creativity, and strong teams are not afraid of sharing new ideas and hashing them out. With a smaller amount of resources, you need a team that believes in internal innovation to deliver more powerful messages to many different audiences, from stakeholders on social media to event attendees. It’s important to note that building a team that operates this way did not happen overnight — but it did happen…
There is also a deliberately collaborative approach to supporting entrepreneurs across not just individual team members, but entire companies, and that effort is resulting in statewide partnerships, programs, and results. Rather than being competitors, the various Entrepreneurial Support Organizations (ESO) in the state work together more than ever before.
Seeking Diverse Experiences
Building a high-performing team means deliberate efforts to bring in people with diverse backgrounds and experiences and provide a place for them to be involved. You are trying to help the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem. It takes a broad range of voices to accomplish that and it requires entrepreneurs spanning all ages, races, and socioeconomic groups. The more everyone succeeds, the better off we all are.
The Venture Center has purposefully diversified its offerings and programs. The fintech programs serve one niche. Through those programs, we are fortunate to work with entrepreneurs worldwide, including countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, Australia.
The Venture Center’s offerings speak to an incredibly diverse group of entrepreneurs from a community programming perspective. We have program partners in Vietnam, and this year, we partnered with the Walton Family Foundation to create The BIG Pitch, the first pitch competition for Black entrepreneurs. There will always be room to grow and more people to serve, but we always have an eye on expanding programs to help more people.
There are many more ways to cultivate high-performing teams, and most leaders are interested in doing so. These are just a few of the most significant factors I believe lead to a highly motivated and happy team over here at The Venture Center. These principles have carried us through the pandemic and given us all something extraordinary to focus on – helping others by supporting entrepreneurs worldwide and right here at home in Arkansas.