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'Lead by strength, not title,' Benincasa says.
'Lead by strength, not title,' Benincasa says. / Stuart O'Sullivan/Getty Images

Dreading that group project at work? The key to success is in building the perfect team. “Team-building is a way to be in control of your life,” says Robyn Benincasa, world champion adventure racer and author of How Winning Works: 8 Essential Leadership Lessons From the Toughest Teams on Earth.

Benincasa left the corporate world to take on expedition-level competitions that tax participants to hike jungles and mountains, cross lava fields and survive rapids. Who crosses the finish line first is as much who you’re with as how you train, she says. Steal her tricks:

Play to the strengths. Recognize one another’s strengths and weaknesses (we all have them) and tap into them by divvying out tasks accordingly. Leave egos at the door.

Stop the finger-pointing. Nothing defeats team spirit more than singling out someone’s flaw. All teams, whether work or personal, are built on respect. “Lead by strength, not by title,” Benincasa declares. Squash any negative remarks as soon as they come up.

Take Benincasa’s test. Do you look at people as potential competitors or potential teammates? If you’re trying to compete, flip a mental switch, Benincasa says. The world is full of potential teammates.

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