The Game Changer
Leading Your Dream Team

Assembling a dream team for every project is critical to its success This is especially important for a self-published book project. As a self-published author, your book is your platform, and assembling a quality team can help you create a masterpiece—a book that will be on par with books from the big publishing houses.

As the author, your role is to lead your dream team. Through your leadership, you will oversee the creation of a quality finished product that will be taken seriously by readers, reviewers, booksellers, librarians and others.

So how can you effectively work with your team? Team dynamic s can be tricky in general—and especially so on complex projects or those with aggressive goals. A great team works in concert, with everyone moving in the same direction and supporting each other. A dysfunctional team will sap energy, time, and resources from the project and the group. The good news is that you, the self-published author, are in charge of leading your dream team to success. Here are the 3 Golden C’s of successful teamwork:

1. Clarity: The first step to delivering success is knowing what success looks like. As a team leader, you need to define success at two levels: 1) for the group (produce a completed manuscript by January 1st ); and 2) for each role (illustrator completes 5 drawings by December 12th and hands off to the layout designer for review and approval). This level of clarity will drive understanding of the overall project vision, individual milestones, and interdependency among team members. As new team members join, you should clearly and transparently state each person’s role and responsibilities. You should also schedule regular team discussions to review the project and deliverables. These touch-points don’t have to be stuffy team meetings that drag on endlessly, but effective check-ins such as conference calls to chat about progress, surface any issues, review dependencies, and jointly decide on any necessary course correction.

2. Communication: You should communicate clearly and frequently with your team and with individual team members. Don’t let people go dark. Invite them in; make them part of something bigger, important, and relevant; make them feel valued as a key stakeholder in the project. People have different work styles: some like a lot of connection, and other prefer to work in isolation. You, as the team leader, need to bring everyone together while still communicating effectively to each individual. An example of this would be to ensure you regularly send team meeting notes with clear next steps, outcomes, owners, dates, and dependencies. Another example is to make sure you always recap 1:1 conversations with an individual team members, clearly stating deliverables and dates.
I like to use a simple table to keep track of everything.

Finally, be transparent. Put documents on a common team workspace such as Google Docs, Office365, or collaboration tools such as Slack.

3. Coordination:
This is really your core job. Coordination is the intersection of leadership and execution. Your team is there to take direction from you and apply their domain expertise to materialize the objective. Your job is to remove roadblocks for them, inspire and challenge them to do their best work, and coordinate efforts across multiple workstreams such as editing, illustrating, printing, and PR. Coordination becomes especially important as dependencies among team members multiply, because when this happens the project becomes more reliant on orchestration and timing. For example, if your layout designer can’t do her job until the editing and interior illustrations are complete, you need to make sure the sequence deliverable accounts for this. You should always consider building time for reviews and revisions into your project plans.

Leading your dream team to success is no small feat, but through transparency, trust, and motivation it can certainly be done. Take the lead and allow your dream team to do their best work on the wings of your vision, enablement, and empowerment.

Marija Bulatovic 2014

Marija Bulatovic 2014

Born in Yugoslavia in the 1970s, Marija Bulatovic, along with her parents, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s just ahead of the 1990s Yugoslav wars and the breakup of the country. An accomplished business professional with years of experience driving enterprise business with Fortune 500 companies, Bulatovic graduated from Colgate University. Marija Bulatovic lives in Seattle with her husband and son.