Ask Me Anything on How to build your highly effective team

Hamid Safaei
Sep 6, 2018

Are you the business owner or leader who has a hard time when it comes to hiring and firing? Is completing and managing your teams a tough task? Have you ever experienced hunting on the most sought-after talent ending in paying a fortune for someone who has not happen to be the right fit at the end? Why is that?

Are you happy with the choices you make when it comes to building and refining your teams? Teambuilding has an algorithm you can learn from Hamid Safaei. He is an executive mentor and the author of multiple books incl. the bestseller First-Class leadership: How Highly Effective Teams Can Achieve Breakthrough Results. Ask him what matters most when it comes to attracting, developing and retaining your talent. Ask him anything in his AMA Session (Sept. 6th, 2018, 01:00 pm EST, 7 pm CEST) on #BloggingAMA Channel and start building your highly effective team!

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How do you encourage ideas between your team members?
Sep 9, 1:27PM EDT1

Hire people smarter than yourself and do not dictate to them what to do and how to do it. Instead, share your challenges and goals with them and have them come up with ideas on how to proceed.

I always say the key to greatness is humility. No one can know everything and leaders are no exception. Whenever you don't know the answer invite your team members to come up with ideas. 

For more on Humility you can read chapter one (First-Class Leadership Principles - Humility, pages 22-27) of my second book, First-Class Leadership.

Sep 10, 1:09AM EDT0
In terms of crating loyalty and engagement with their teams, what is the role of a leader?
Sep 9, 1:23PM EDT1

In fact, one of the most important factors that boosts loyalty is engagement. When employees are engaged in setting strategies they feel fulfilled, valued and responsible for the execution. In their everyday interaction they see "the baby" they have contributed to is growing. They feel the ownership. And what do people to protect what they own?

Great leaders set the example for their senior managers by engaging them and have them do the same for their direct reports and so is the whole organization engaged. 

Read more on this in Chapters 10 (Sound Strategy) and 11 (part Delegation of Highly Valued Leadership Qualities) of my second book First-Class Leadership. 

Sep 10, 1:02AM EDT0
How important is to build a strong leadership to develop a good company culture?
Sep 8, 11:37PM EDT1

It is all about leadership with a clear and compelling vision that is capable of inspiring others to execute the leader's strategy. 

Remember, companies become as great as their people and people need an example. The example is the leader. 

I always tell the leaders who come to me for mentorship: Be the culture you want to see in your organization. Then it will be easy to integrate your employees into that culture.

The best way to lead people is leading by example. 

Last edited @ Sep 9, 3:07AM EDT.
Sep 9, 3:06AM EDT0
What is the biggest challenge you've had professionally? Have you had any setbacks or failures? What have you learnt from those?
Sep 8, 5:56AM EDT1

My biggest challenge has been publishing my second book First-Class Leadership. For several months I had the feeling that I wasn't making any progress. I approached many high ranked leaders and celebrities for interviews. All I was hearing was a polite no.

Then I realized I could not edit a blank page. I told myself: "Some will say yes, some will say no, but I'm doing it anyhow".  I started penning the book and worked 16 hours a day including weekends for a period of 6 months. Along the way I interviewed the leaders and entrepreneurs whose knowledge could enrich the book. The whole journey cost me 5000 hours to finalize the book as it is.

The journey to becoming an entrepreneur is full of uncertainty, setback, and failing over and over and again.  And I am no exception. The point is that you never give up.  

Sep 8, 3:10PM EDT0
What can you share about your book First Class Leadership? What drove you to write it?
Sep 8, 4:09AM EDT1

For years I've been coaching countless individuals and teams. For years my pitch was" I help you be the best version of yourself." Several clients asked me questions like "What is the best version of you, Hamid?" It made me pause, think, and reflect. On Feb. 2, 2015 I got the answer. I committed to one of the most significant dreams a human being could have: Peace in the Middle East.

Then I coached myself and sat down, did my homework and created an action plan. I knew I had to connect with highly- ranked  influential leaders in the world to make a chance. Next, I thought about how I could reach world leaders. My inner voice whispered " You need to give first as it makes asking easier." So, then I thought about the fastest and easiest way to serve leaders so I could ask something in return. The idea of publishing a leadership book different to what is available came to mind. It took me 1,5 years to start the real journey. However, I remained committed to my dream and walked the journey of publishing two books in 2017. 

When I look back, I don't know if anything else may have connected me with top CEOs, professors, leaders, and celebrities with 7-8 figure following as my book First-Class Leadership book has. 

And I'm in the very beginning of my journey. The next milestone is even more mindblowing. 

Sep 8, 4:58AM EDT0

You made the wrong hire, the person is struggling and you're stryggling to manage them but there's mutual respect. Where do you go from there?

Sep 7, 5:01PM EDT1

This is extensively explained and made tangible in chapter 12 of First-Class Leadership book. 

Keeping nonproductive team members is the worst thing you can do, particularly for the employee. You make them feel empty inside. Have an external mentor help them and if they really do not fit in your organization help them pursue their career elsewhere. Consider it as a marriage that doesn't work? How painful is it to divorce at 50, 60, or 70? When it really doesn't work, why not divorce when one is 30 or 40? They still can find the love of their life while having passion and  energy to enjoy it.

To achieve breakthrough results, you constantly need fresh blood, so you need to make room for new talent. We can learn so much from sport. Clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern München keep only the best players. Even when they become champions, they know the competition next year is a whole new ball game for which they need to be ready. Therefore, they look at their players and see who is too old, injured, or who will not fit in the new team. This is a fair mechanism that works well; however, not many companies understand this philosophy, let alone apply it.

First-class companies refresh their human capital continuously. Some refresh their human capital by around 10% every year.

Sep 8, 2:15AM EDT0
How do you teach leaders to be positive, proactive, purposeful, risk-takers, solution-minded, and balanced?
Sep 7, 8:54AM EDT1

Awesome question. Thanks. It looks like you have read the second chapter of my leadership book: Common Attitudes of First-Class Leaders.

There's no one size fits all even though I do see all of these attitudes connected. Oftentimes I start with drilling down to find the biggest WHY of the leader (as my client). Only then the others make much more sense. What is your message and contribution to the universe? Why do you wake up every day? If there were no restrictions would you still do what you do every day? If not, what would you then ben doing and why? So these are  a couple of simple questions that warm up my clients to open up, think, and reflect on what they do.

When they are connected with their biggest WHY it becomes easier to transform them from reactive to proactive, from negative minded to positive, from safe-playing to risk-taking, from purposeless to purposefulness, from finger pointing to solution minded, and from disbalance to balance.

I believe that 2/3 of the solution is hidden in the problem itself. So, I do the utmost to understand the core issue, then we take targeted action to nail it. 

It is a matter of asking the right questions to discover the real goal and or the hidden challenge of the leader. 

I have noticed that many leaders have possess enough attributes to get the best out of themselves, but their own self-made fears and limiting beliefs hold them back: Fear of being found to be incompetent is one of the most common ones, fear of losing everything, fear of being left alone, fear of public speaking, and the likes are common among many. These in turn reproduce limiting beliefs: I am not good enough, I can't, I don't have time, I'm not like them (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, educated, etc.) So, I have seen leaders shine when I have helped them overcome their fears and limiting beliefs.

Sep 7, 9:58AM EDT0
Can you talk about your coaching services and to whom they are directed? What are the main benefits leaders will take from your programs?
Sep 7, 8:14AM EDT1

Excellent question. Thanks Alba.

At we have both individual and group coaching. Oftentimes leaders approach me for coaching their teams. However, the majority of them prefers one-on-one coaching for themselves. 

The main benefit is obviously achieving their goals, be it personal or business growth. 6 months ago three board members came to me as they hardly could close new deals as the result of the trade policy of president Donald Trump. They signed up for 6 months group coaching. After three months they said they had a luxury problem: They're unable to fulfill all the orders as the demand for their products exponentially has increased as result of the actions we said they have to take. Then I coached their Chief HR Officer to quickly hire targeted new talent.

Our customers are business leaders, (budding) entrepreneurs, and individuals who desperately seek the right mentor to help them make their breakthrough. We qualify our clients via a free strategy session on 

Sep 7, 10:13AM EDT0
What should a leader look for when choosing a second in command? How does a leader know how to choose the right person?
Sep 7, 8:00AM EDT1

Great question Alpeshvala. Thanks.

the higher you sit in the organization the more you need to believe in  the biggest why of the company. This does not mean leaders have to be rigid, but instead they need to embrace change and do whatever it takes to have the company achieve its goals.

The algorithm remains the same: Hire people smarter than yourself and get out of their way. Create an avatar of the one you need. What attitudes, skills, expertise, and more important talent should the new hire possess. What problems are they going to solve? Simply, why do you need to hire that specific individual? Keep your emotions in check and find a relation between your real need and the new hire. 

How do you know if you have chosen the right one? You will never know it for 100%. You have to size people up fairly quickly and check on cultural fit, the talent and the added value each individual brings to the company. 

I have explored this in chapters 9, 12, 13, and 14 of First-Class Leadership. 

Sep 7, 8:10AM EDT0
How can a business thrive solely on the work of employees and great leaders?
Sep 7, 6:07AM EDT1

Companies become as great at their employees. And great companies have been built by ordinary people who have mastered Premium Leadership Qualities. They have multiplied their results by attracting, hiring, nurturing, and retaining the right talent. I'm not saying the best, because the best is really a vague term in many cases. Hire the right talent for the right reason.

So, it is the combination of a clear and compelling vision + relentlessly doing with you really love (passion) + building a highly effective team. 

It is not the money that matters most. Nor is it technology, but it is the astonishing combination of human being psychology, sociology, and biology that makes the difference. Proof? Some pioneers that had both money and tech either didn't survive the battle with new comers or are struggling to survive. Examples? Kodak, Blockbuster, Nokia, and BlackBerry.

The almost one trillion dollars worth Amazon started in a garage with the relentless effort and perseverance of Jeff Bezos who for a long time delivered books from his garage himself. A lot more multibillion dollar companies started in a basement 5-10 years ago and soon disrupted the market and claimed their ground. Alibaba Group, Uber and AirBnB are shining examples. What did they have in common? Their founders mastered atrributes that have been revealed in my book First-Class Leadership. 

Sep 7, 6:26AM EDT0
How do you go about continuing to develop your own professional skills and knowledge?
Sep 7, 5:17AM EDT1

great question. I always say, the best plan is doing right now right here. I start doing what I want to do and I train and skill up myself on the job wherever needed. This means I every year invest myself to upgrade the skills I need to make it to the next level. I learn from the ones who have walked the journey that I am about to walk. So, I have learned from the likes of Steve Jobs and Jim Rohn. 

Sep 7, 5:34AM EDT1
What team building efforts can be used to teach teamwork in a productive way?
Sep 7, 4:24AM EDT1

Hey Rahul, great question. Thanks.

When I talk about a team, I'm talking about a highly effective one. So, in my opinion, not every group of people form a team. Nor is every team highly effective. 

Having that said, the very first thing is setting a clear and compelling vision for the team. Then setting the values, norms, and operation rules. Next employing complementary members and engineering the team as a whole. By this I mean picking the members who comply with the vision, share the values, resect and follow the rules.

When you have started completing your team you start optimization as well, e.g. who fits in what position best, who's been a  wrong choice for the team and has to be replaced. All of this is done with close cooperation with the team members. This means: Get to know your team members quickest you can. 

Next start working on the mission of the team. The best way to practice is doing right where you are. Along the journey you will optimize and move forward. You can do simulation exercises to make your team highly effective. For more please check out chapters 9, 12, 13, and 14 of my book First-Class Leadership.  Amazon or author's website 

Sep 7, 4:45AM EDT1
Many employees may not say how they feel but will show it. How important is it for business owners to show keen interest in the mood amongst employees especially when it comes to body language?
Sep 7, 3:49AM EDT1

Great question on sensitivity capabilities  of the leader, Yead Rahman. Thanks.

When we talk about highly effective teams we talk long term. So, consider it as a journey which has its ups and downs. The journey will be most fruitful when the members of the team know each other and are aware of strengths and weaknesses of each other incl. communication skills.

Many leaders listen to what is said but the highly effective leaders listen also to what is not said. In fact this is the game changer: Reading body language, the ability to translate jokes, expressions, and the way Yes and No are expressed. And this is the key to communication what I have explained in chapter 8 of First-Class Leadership. 

To give an example. Imagine you're presenting something important and one or more listeners say "Yeah, you right".  If you miss the body language, some people may mean: " I don't believe you."

You see what I mean?

Sep 7, 4:09AM EDT1
Often each member of a team has a specialty that others do not possess. How important is it for business owners to know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member so as to mould them into highly efficient teams?
Sep 7, 1:52AM EDT1

Great question Mary, thank you.

You nail it by pointing out one of the most important responsibilities of any team leader. As emphasized in my book First-Class Leadership before you start to help your team members unleash their potential you have to know them well. You got to know their capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, platinum skills, fears, passion and no-go zones. Only after this you can perfectly engineer your team to make it highly effective.

I use many tangible metaphors to transmit my message. I compare employees with flowers and seeds. Look at flowers. They grow naturally where they belong to when it comes to environment. As a lover of nature I stare at some flowers that shine, smile, and smell amazingly.

Now imagine you cut a lovely flower and hug it, touch it, smell it and hold it in your hands with all your love. You will enjoy the flower, but the flower doesn't. It starts dying as of the moment you have cut it, because you violently changed the environment to where it doesn't belong to. Does this make sense?

You see, the same applies to team members. You got to know what they are and where they belong to (culture, environment, and values). What do they love to do, and what don't they love to be?

Sep 7, 3:40AM EDT1
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far and why?
Sep 6, 7:19PM EDT1

Wow Timothy, what a question. Thanks

Connecting and working with tier 1 leaders (top CEOs, thought leaders with 7-8 figure following, celebrities, and inclusive top ranked politicians at the level of prime minister).

Why? Because this milestone has got me closer to my ultimate dream than I thought it could. Ultimate dream: Creating peace in the Middle East through leadership education. 

However, this is an outcome which I owe to my books, particularly First-Class Leadership. It has opened the doors for me that I couldn't even think of prior to releasing this book. 

What has been your greatest achievement Timothy?

Sep 7, 3:25AM EDT1
What milestones do you celebrate? How and why?
Sep 6, 9:18AM EDT1

Even if it is a small achievement we always celebrate the successes we have realized. This boosts our energy, enforces the momentum and encourages us to continue fearlessly. 

How we do it depends on the greatness of the milestone achieved. Sometimes we celebrate by having a couple of drinks or a lunch together while some other time it can be taking the whole team to a foreign country to enjoy a relaxed short vacation. It also can be a dinner together with team members and their partners. 

Sep 6, 9:44AM EDT1
If you were given more initiatives than you could handle, what would you do?
Sep 6, 9:18AM EDT1

I always have in mind what I want to achieve.

Whatever I do has to serve the goal I am working on.

When too many initiatives are available I will start with the one that has the most positive effect on achieving my most important goal. 

Sep 6, 10:04AM EDT1
When working with teams, What are some of the ways in which a business owner can make each member of the team feel appreciated?
Sep 6, 9:17AM EDT1

Let them do more of what they enjoy to do and help them become more of what they love to be. 

Freedom, give them the space they need to get the best out of themselves.

Simply ask them: How can we make you happy here? 

Don't think, guess, or assume what they need, desire, and appreciate, ask them instead.

Sep 6, 10:04AM EDT1
Do you think many business owners focus so much on training their employees that they forget that they too need training in leadership? Does this omission end up affecting a team that would have otherwise been highly effective had it had an equally highly effective leader?
Sep 6, 3:19AM EDT1

Fantastic question Teerin, thanks.

Yeah, soemtimes this is the case and that's why some leaders come short in tough times. I have seen highly profiled leaders (top 500 CEOs and top politicians) go down as they thought they knew it all. They were incapable of preparing themselves for the bigger days.

Leaders are human beings too and so they also need to create balance between their life and work. They also need to learn to embrace new technologies and new ways of work. For example they need to embrace digital transformation. 

When penning First-Class Leadership Principles I mentioned that Humility is perhaps the most forgotten principle between many leaders of our time. I believe humility is the key to greatness. Great leaders know that one can never have all the answers and no one is an exception. The wise ones invite their team members, mentors and experts to help them when they don't have the answer or when they need a second opinion. So, yes, definitely leaders need to recharge their knowledge and self-esteem batteries too. 

Sep 6, 9:12AM EDT1
What is the best way teams collaborate seamlessly across time and place? What’s the best way to leverage new tools like chat, video, mobile, etc.?
Sep 6, 12:46AM EDT1

Awesome question Miral, thanks.

The most important thing that has a significant effect on performance is clarity. So, make sure your employees know what they are expected.

Offer them support. Be there for them via chat, phone, and con-call when they need you.

Paint the goal on the wall. Share with your employees where your organization is heading and what you expect from each and every one.

Have digital social gatherings when physical ones are close to impossible. Agree on mutual accountability partners. Have people who work remotely make each other accountable for certain results. 

Have mentors, hotlines available for your people oversees to share their issues, challenges, and successes.

Celebrate your successes both physically and via video channels. Make your people feel they belong on one family and can count on one another. 

Don't do everything digitally only. Visit your employees in different countries and have local meetings when global meetings are impossible or unaffordable. 

The belonging need does not have to be fulfilled physically only. It is about connection and the feeling your employees have. They want to feel loved, protected, connected, and appreciated. 

Sep 6, 9:01AM EDT1

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