The Strongest Link
Building an Indestructible Team Through Support
There’s an old quote that says:
“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”
— Thomas Reid
It is my strong belief that if you have that kind of mentality as a leader, you’ll never succeed. If you focus on the weakness of your teams, and especially if you call out their weaknesses publicly, they will continue to disappoint.
There’s another quote I find to be much more apt in good leadership:
“We rise by lifting others.”
— Robert Ingersoll
Great leadership and their teams rise by lifting others up. A truly great team is amplified by their strengths, not anchored by weaknesses. They work together to build a great product, even if they’re unequally skilled. In creative teams especially, each member is an important part of the process, and everyone can enhance the process at any point.
I used to work in special effects making monster prosthetics. During that time, almost everyone wanted to be a sculptor, as that job had the most perceived clout. But if you looked a little more closely, the other jobs were just as important. A good mold-maker could improve the work of a less skilled foam-maker, and a great painter could make up for any mistakes that came before them. This is also true of the video game industry. Artists are enhanced by animators, implementation is enhanced by developers, and game testers catch any mistakes.
Now, don’t get me wrong – if a team isn’t strongly skilled to begin with, there are limits. But with the right leadership, they grow, improve, and rise together. Not everyone is an Olympic athlete, but most people can be good, if not great at their job. If someone is struggling, start by making sure they like the work they’re doing. When they do, the quality of their work improves, so it’s important to put people in the right positions. If you have weak links in the right positions, team them up with a mentor. If that’s not enough, sometimes you have to prune the garden, but most of the time people just need support.
When you set out as a team to make every product better than the last, that’s when you win. Come together with the support of each other to create something truly magical. When you have something that special, you don’t have weak links, only a chain. Want to build the strongest link? Hire me for a group workshop.
How do you feel about the strongest link? Let me know in the comments below.