Got Glue? How Leaders Build Strong Teams

Epoxy Adhesive

As an FBI counterintelligence agent, developing good information networks around the foreign spies I pursued was the secret to my success. Those networks became part of my team and they became the heart of every successful investigation when we found our mutual spots of value.

Why is value so important to good teams? It’s the glue that sustains them in good times and saves them in bad times.

My friend Kare Anderson, author of a collaboration blog called How We Partner, says that value is created by finding sweet areas of mutual benefit—the result is a collaboration that is both productive and rewarding. Creating a team that provides these results is a critical skill for managers and leaders because it is essential for a growing business—whether you’re looking for new customers or building the camaraderie of your in-house team.

Collaboration is a process, not an event. It takes time.

Start Mixing Your Glue

You may be looking for ways to build partnership teams with new clients, contacts, or employees. Finding the entry point for collaboration is not always easy, but here are a few steps you can take to create the glue that will bind members of the team you are building:

1. Create value for them

Send articles or notices of events that might be of interest. If you write a blog, send it to them if the topic is relevant, thought provoking, or full of ideas.

I would often scan newspapers and magazines for articles or items that I knew were of interest to a contact. I never expected anything in return—just having them know that I had their best interests at heart went a long way.

2. Watch for reciprocity

It’s not a good idea to create value for others with the express intent of having them return the favor. However, when they do reciprocate value glue is being created. The greater the value, the stronger the glue. The company or individual may not be willing or able to create a product of mutual benefit. If so, they may not be an ideal member for your team.

3. Ask advice

Most people love giving advice—it places them in the role of an expert. Ask your prospective client or partner for their feedback on your ideas and product. But be genuine because they will be suspicious of your motives if you’re not. And if you’re considering collaboration with them, you really do want their input.

4. Test the relationship

It’s easier to create value glue when the risks are lower. Start with smaller projects so all parties can get an idea of how everyone feels about working together. For example, approach a prospect or new client for partnership in a non-profit venture with the idea of looking at how you compliment each other.

5. Bundle services

Offer a discount or special combination of services by bundling your product with that of your prospect. It automatically expands the customer list of both parties.

6. Create a reward system

Find ways to reward the prospect or team members. Sometimes it’s as easy as saying thank you in private or acknowledging them publicly in some way. Glue that is created with sincerity and appreciation for the other party is always stronger than band aids that are used to cover roughed up areas.

Trust is the glue that builds strong teams.

The most successful way of creating value with other parties is finding ways of collaborating that bring mutual benefit to everyone.

What does your ideal team look like? How can you create value for your team or prospects? How would you go about testing a collaborative relationship? What tips can you share about collaborating with others?

LaRae Quy is former FBI Agent and Founder at Your Best Adventure
She helps clients explore the unknown and discover the hidden truth in self & others

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L2L Contributing Author


  1. lizcoslineLiz Cosline on June 9, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    You make good points about the glue that holds a team together and I believe it to be true through the good and the bad times. But often the people that have the most influence on the frontline teams gets little training and attention. The frontline managers must be the foundation to these teams yet it seems their jobs are mostly task oriented. Gluing the team together would be about the team being lead through the goals, and if the frontline manager has no time to really spend with the team, this is unlikly to happen.

    • LaRae Quy on June 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks for your comment, and you make a good point about frontline managers – they tend to get forgotten but they are extremely important. Frontline managers must spend time with the team. Thanks!

      LaRae Quy 415.609.0608 [email protected]

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