We all know that George Washington wore the coolest tricorn hats, but did you know he was also incredible at leading a kick-ass team?
It wasn’t just George Washington; as a group, the Founding Fathers were incredible at team-building.
What lessons can we take from the Founding Fathers? What does starting a nation have to do with building a team? How many more questions are going to be in this paragraph?
We’re glad you asked.
We’d like to invite you to join us as we turn to the past to take some great ideas from our nation’s history and apply them to modern-day team-building. It’ll be kind of like National Treasure, but instead of Nic Cage you have Museum Hack, and instead of stealing the Declaration of Independence, we’re stealing our forefathers’ greatest ideas.
Without further ado, here are three things that our Founding Fathers taught us about building a kick*ss team.
#1: Have a Bold Mission Statement
When it comes to mission statements, the Declaration of Independence is probably a top 3 document. (The other two are clearly the memo from Jerry McGuire and whatever lyrics Chance The Rapper scribbled down to start “Coloring Book.’)
In the Declaration of Independence, not only did the Founding Fathers tell England that they were, well, declaring their independence, but they also provided their reasons and justification for doing so. With the help of Thomas Jefferson’s wicked quill, the Founding Fathers stated their mission unapologetically, never compromising on or shying away from what they intended to do. The Founding Fathers all agreed on this mission statement and remembered it when times got rough.
This is a key point when determining how to build your team: it’s not enough to just have a mission statement, you have to have a mission statement that is strong, unifying, and straight-to-the-point.
Our mission at Museum Hack is simple: to convince everyone that museums are f*cking awesome. Whenever we are making decisions, we remember that mission and ask ourselves whether our choices are furthering that goal. Since we’re united towards one mission, we’re able to make it through hard decisions, arguments and difficult times, because we remember that everyone is trying to achieve the same thing.
When times get difficult, it can be easy to forget where you came from and why you’re fighting to move forward, but a great mission statement can help to keep you motivated and on the right track.
#2: Compromise Is Key
If you’ve ever read about our Founding Fathers (or simply listened to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat), you’ll know that, while our Founding Fathers were all brilliant, principled men, they didn’t actually have a lot in common. Some believed in big government, others in small government; some were from the agrarian South, others from the urban North; some thought (after the Revolutionary War) that the US should ally itself with Britain, others thought we should ally ourselves with France.
Regardless of their differences, the Founding Fathers recognized that they each had valuable contributions that they could give to strengthen their team. For instance, John Adams was known for his ability to argue in front of an audience (he was a lawyer after all), while Thomas Jefferson was gifted with his quill. George Washington, as we all know, was a strong military leader.
The Founding Fathers knew that every member of their team had something unique to bring to the table. Though they vehemently disagreed with each other, they recognized each other’s talents and strengths and knew when to push each other’s buttons and when to back down and let someone else lead.
Every team is made up of different personalities, with different goals and perspectives. Our team at Museum Hack comes from a wide array of backgrounds: some are sales stars, some have advanced degrees in museum studies, some have worked in numerous professional settings, and some are in their first job. While we all have different ideas, we work together to make the best choices for our company.
One of the ways we do this is by seeking feedback from every team member. Just the same way the Founding Fathers voted on decisions at the Constitutional Convention, we vote on issues at Museum Hack, too. For instance, our marketing team recently set goals for Q1 of 2018. Instead of making a top-down, unilateral decision, every team member got to give their input and then the team got to vote on the top priorities. After the top priorities are decided, everyone will work towards those goals, regardless of whether or not they championed them at first.
By compromising on issues, we’re able to make decisions that benefit Museum Hack as a whole.
#3: Embrace Change
One more lesson to take from our Founding Fathers is to embrace change.
Even with an incredible mission statement, the leaders of our country recognized that it would ultimately need to grow and change. No matter how incredible your team is, or how much momentum you begin with, at some point, change will happen.
The Founding Fathers ensured that change would be able to happen by writing the Constitution. Through the Constitution, the Founding Fathers created a country that would be able to grow and change as needed.
One way the Founding Fathers paved the way for change and growth was by building the peaceful transfer of power into the foundation of the country. The Founding Fathers recognized that new people bring new energy and new ideas, so they ensured that most of the major political offices in our government would turn over every few years.
We’re embracing change at Museum Hack, too. Recently, recognizing that our company was entering a new phase of growth, we named a new CEO to lead that charge. Change isn’t always something to be feared: change can bring about new growth and new directions.
Looking to guide change with your team? You may want to have a monthly meeting to discuss new ideas, offer an easy way for your team to make suggestions or even detail out a plan for gradual change at the onset.
No matter how you choose to change, it is vital to remember to embrace change, seek new perspectives and always continue to grow and adapt.
So, What Now?
The Founding Fathers were a kick*ss team, a team with a legacy that is still going strong 241 years later. What’s your next move?
You’ve heard from us, and now we’d love to hear from you.
How are you planning on building a team in the new year? Sound off in the comments and share this post with a friend, we’d love to hear what makes your team tick.
P.S. There are plenty of team building lessons to take away from the Founding Fathers, too.