Your team should be getting 20% smarter every year [ActiveCampaign podcast]

Whether you're a changemaker within an organization, or a startup CEO running your own company, your ability to do great work is directly tied to your team's performance.

You realized this when you transitioned from an individual contributor to a people manager. But it's likely a lesson you're constantly reminded of.

Almost every week, I hear a founder say, "I'm the bottleneck for everything. How do I get my team to be as smart as I am?"

Of course, when I hear that, I have to remind them to simmer down: "If your team were as smart as you are, they would be your boss, right?"

Poking fun aside, the next question is: "What are you doing to help your people get better at their jobs?"

The answer is usually nothing.

There's too much work to do, and it's hard to fix the plane while it's flying in the air. I get it. Training your team is one of those items that is important but not urgent, so it falls on the back-burner.

In my work helping venture-funded startups build marketing engines, a big part involves training in-house teams to level up. The goal is for them to take on an extreme, irrational personal ownership of their work. Having an attitude of extreme accountability is the only way we'll be able to build what we need to build with limited resources.

For example, let's say your employee is a client-facing account manager. What's the difference between these two comments?

  • (A) "The client hasn't provided the signed papers yet."

  • (B) "I haven't secured the signed papers from the client yet."


One is putting the burden of responsibility on the client. The other is owning the personal responsibility squarely on their own shoulders.

To hear more about building high performing teams, check out my podcast with ActiveCampaign. The host, Chris Davis, and I nerd out about:

  • How to help your team deal with uncertainty

  • Why leadership isn't about titles

  • How to take more personal responsibility

  • How to talk about misunderstandings with coworkers

  • Why you should set better expectations with your team

Behavior change like this can make a huge difference immediately and in the long-term. You can either chase and nag at your employees every day, or invest in helping them become smarter, savvier, and to feel more personal accountability for every project.

Listen to Episode 84: How to Build a High-Performance Team with Wes Kao

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Wes Kao