Let’s get something straight guys – great teams beat great individual performances. The best way to show this is to look at the Golden State Warriors (GSW) in the NBA. Though they just lost the NBA finals, they are the only team to go to the finals five straight years in a row and have three championships to show for it. Not bad for a team that was recently the laughing stock of the league.

Look at how GSW beat the Houston Rockets this year. A team that was constructed to defeat them. They worked together as a team to defeat the most likely regular season MVP and reigning MVP James Harden.

James Harden, Rockets at Wizards 11/7/16. Credit Keith Allison

So how did they do that? We looked into how they constructed a team that was able to acquire leading talent and build a culture that the team relished and built upon.

In this article, we explore the route that the team took and apply it to the startup fundamentals and how companies can construct a team for similar success.

These fundamentals apply regardless of your industry or startup focus. They help foster the right work environment for you to scale your team effectively and overcome business hurdles along the way.

Provide a proper support system

GSW brings in experienced people to ensure the team has depth, but also finds way to incorporate rookies seamlessly into their system. This is often achieved by providing them with a buddy or someone to guide them along the way.

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Similar to a diving buddy, this teammate is the person who is assigned to ensuring the rookies can adapt to the new style of play in the most seamless manner and be the safety they need. It helps in these ways:

  1. Pairing an experienced player with an inexperienced player helps close the learning gap. This helps the rookies gain experience faster and also emboldens them to learn faster and not be afraid of making mistakes.
  2. Often players are paired due to complementary skill, such as a post player with a post player to help teach them the system. Andrew Bogut and David Lee mentored Draymond Green in GSW to make him one of the most lethal stretch fours in the league. (For those not in the know, Google ‘Stretch four NBA’)
  3. Bringing together outside influences can also help teams grow and build upon an existing culture, because diversity can be a very positive aspect of team building.

Focus on the culture that you want

One of the first changes GSW made to become a premier team in the league was to create a culture of winning and hard work.

Taking the Golden State Warriors to Greatness: Culture of Teamwork

Your company’s brand is nothing more than a reflection of your culture. As the lead, your startup’s culture is often a reflection of you. There is no shortcut to success and building your brand, and putting effort into your company culture is essential.

There is a simple way to look at your company culture in relation to GSW. Steph Curry is undoubtedly their leader and these are some of the principles he embodies as their leader:

  • Be humble. He never brags and looks down on the competition.
  • First one in, last one out of the gym. Hard work never phases the highest paid athlete in the NBA.
  • Believe in yourself. If you miss three shots in a row, you may hesitate, but not Steph Curry, he’ll be looking for his fourth.

Team success above individual success

One of the greatest challenges of team building is getting people to work together for the greater good. Nothing signifies the GSW culture more than their ability to forgo personal success for the good of the team. Here are some examples:

  • Andrew Iguodala gave up being a perennial all-star to join the team and come off the bench to anchor the second unit
  • Klay Thompson would be the main scoring option on every other team in the league, he sacrificed all-NBA team spots on a regular basis
  • It comes from the top – Steph Curry, two-time MVP and only unanimous MVP in the history of the league – put aside his ego to recruit superstar Kevin Durant to the team
Steph Curry Recalls His Part In Recruiting Kevin Durant To Warriors | The Jump | ESPN

As a team, they have sacrificed money, playing time, scoring, records and many more, but are still the most successful team in the league.

If you can get your team to buy into your vision and ideals, and work together as a team, you’ve got yourself a powerful team that can achieve anything they want.

Find people who fit your culture

You have to be ruthless to be successful. Or at least, that’s what you would think if you looked at Silicon Valley or followed the life of Steve Jobs. GSW has been proving this wrong for a while now.

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Jerks don’t always succeed and hiring a highly qualified person who could potentially be a hindrance to your team’s culture might not give you the results you want. Finding people who fit your culture and hopefully, it is a nice culture like the Golden State Warriors.

Team culture might be difficult to define, but if you can create a culture built on niceness and togetherness, it can be easier to have people who embody those simple but essential aspects of a team.

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