5 Character Traits of a Good Digital Team

lessons from our LAB

July 18, 2013

5 Character Traits of a Good Digital Team

Our Digital Scientists are made up of tech-loving, results-oriented, passionate, digital marketing nerds who have an unnatural obsession with all things digital. Most likely seen glued to a screen and spewing new digital marketing trends.

Guest Blog by: Matt Gottesman, Global Digital Specialist for the World Trade Centers Associatio

5 Character Traits of a Good Digital Team:

I believe a project’s success has a formula and it’s not achieved solely by one individual, but by the right combination of smart and talented people, all respected for their work, and who know how to work together to achieve a common goal. In fact, the story behind truly successful websites and technology initiatives is the same whether the organization is a startup or a well-known brand with a lot of history. The project “lead” must get the right people on board, interact with them enough to give them guidance, and then be smart enough to get out of their way. The result will ultimately be a winning product. And while no two companies have the exact same needs, problems, or even variables, the formula for success stays the same; the right combination of people will breed success.

I was recently approached by Kevin Warhus, the Digital Strategist for StringCan Interactive, to express my thoughts on what character traits I look for in a solid team. I told him there are at least 5 “MUST’S” I look for when creating a team to collaborate on a large-scale, global digital project.



- Michael Jordan


1. They Trust Each Other:

Trust is a multi-tiered subject. It starts with the person hiring you for the project and trickles all the way down to your team members and resources. You’ve got to have trust to make any project work.

  • Trust that your leader is not only smart and strategic, but transparent, realistic and a champion of your initiatives. He or she must hire you with the intention of giving you enough autonomy to make it happen, but also serve as a guide and a mentor.
  • Trust in your colleagues (teammates) – they must always have your back and you must always give them support. This includes honesty, tact, and constructive criticism, but more importantly, bringing solutions not problems.
  • Trust in your resources – The people you hire must be efficient, smart and of the highest quality. You must trust in their expertise enough to be a supporter of their efforts and not a micromanager of them.

2. They Love What They Do

Passion is everything. I firmly believe you have to find very talented, passionate and strategically smart people to help elevate your initiatives. A great mentor once told me that, “if you look around the room and you’re the smartest one there, you’re in trouble.” You’ll be asked to do everything and it’s physically impossible to do so. Your goal should not be the person to handle everything, but to be the one who understands what and who is needed to succeed. They should be collaborative, smart, creative, action-oriented and take initiative. Ultimately, they love what they do and it shows in their work.

3. They Seek to Answer the “Why”

Robin Bramman, a gifted brand strategist (Online / Offline) and someone I’ve had the chance to work with, once asked me “Do you know the why”. Why are we doing this project? Why does it make sense for our organization? Why are we (the company) here in the first place? Once you answer those questions, then you can work into the “what”, the “who”, and the “how”. Good digital team members seek the “why” because they seek to push the boundaries of traditional thinking and move into a place of endless opportunities on the web. For them, answering the “why” makes it simple to understand and simple to deploy high level digital marketing tactics.

4. They Think Through All the Variables

Problems are inevitable in any organization, but what’s most important, is how do you solve them. From a tech standpoint, in order to decide on what’s truly needed for a digital platform or project, its important to step back, look at the overarching problems and needs of the organization’s end user(s), conduct an appropriate amount of market research, and then derive a strategy to meet those needs. Lao Tzu once said, “Strategy without tactics is a slow route to victory and tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” It’s not enough to build a strategy, but also compile a blueprint for carrying out those initiatives. Good digital teammates seek to think through all the variables and bring numerous solutions to the table.

5. They Support Each Other

I’ve come to find something truly unique about people in the digital world. They move away from traditional corporate structure, and tend to be flat, transparent organizations. They create cultures whereby teammates support each other’s work efforts and personal growth. Additionally, regardless of the work team members have been tasked with, they are quick to jump onto their teammates initiatives and deliverables across other departments to help them. They care more about their credibility, and less on solely getting the credit. Finally, they adapt to multiple variables; a changing digital landscape, ongoing users feedback (including management), code, marketing, design, etc.

Putting My Theory Into Practice:

I currently manage a large scale, global digital project, based on a pre-determined budget and a specific set of goals and objectives. I was given a great deal of autonomy from trusted leadership, whereby I have sourced truly remarkable talent in strategy, digital marketing, branding, design, UX, development and content, and all of whom I completely trust will give their best quality work and professional advice. Going into this project, I leveraged a key resource in digital strategy that worked with me to conduct the proper audience audit, understand the unique pain points and needs of the global entities, develop a strategy around those needs and then implement the solutions. When there is an extent of variables (i.e. time, budget, culture, history, etc.), a team must be as creative as possible to make the best digital platform and technological leap for the organization. And I stress, nothing great is ever truly accomplished without practicing the formula for success, which is having the right combination of people.



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