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What makes a badass team

It’s not a question most business leaders ask when putting teams together—but they should be. We talked to 30 marketing executives to distinguish “bad” hires from “badass” teams. And while the differences were clear, avoiding “bad” territory isn’t always easy. 

Bad teams lack direction—they’re more focused on activities than on results, and their strategies are out of sync with the overarching company strategy. This means bad teams are running in one direction, while the rest of the organization is running the opposite way. Furthermore, bad teams are reactive, not proactive—they hesitate to take a leadership stance in the market, allowing competitors and opportunities to pass them by.

Badass teams, on the other hand, work together to move in the same direction as the company. This means when changes occur—such as when new people come in or new demands arise—they have the agility, focus, and discipline to manage change and deliver results. Badass teams are curious and continuously learning so they can identify, celebrate, and leverage individuals’ superpowers.

Celebrating personal strengths unlocks a badass team’s X factor: discretionary effort. This is the “want-to” versus “have-to” mentality, and it’s at the heart of talent optimization. Putting the right people in the right roles ensures teams have the skills and talent needed to execute their strategy. Strategy, after all, is the alignment of aspirations and core capabilities. When teams are clear about their aspirations and capabilities, they can design a business strategy that leverages employees’ skills, hire the right people to fill any gaps, inspire team members to work together efficiently, and review the cycle to diagnose any pain points.

Businesses change quickly, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of covering up problems with ad-hoc tactics. But with talent optimization, badass teams can overcome common pitfalls and achieve their goals.

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