The path to success can be very different for everyone, but successful teams — in sports, in business or even your team at home — often have similar traits and abilities.

CNBC’s Elle Kaplan reviewed a five-year-long Google study on maximizing effectiveness and analyzed the results in her article, “Google found the most successful teams share these 5 traits.” 1

I thought it could be helpful to review the five characteristics of great teams she identified and then we discuss how these traits can be used to influence your retirement preparation. Google, which we all know is a worldwide leader in technology and innovation, executed the research project under the name Project Aristotle. The study produced some interesting results.

The first of the five traits discussed in the CNBC article is likely the hardest trait to achieve: Psychological Safety¹.

Psychological safety is personal, and different for each person. When people feel comfortable in their group, they’re more willing to take risks and share information or ideas without fear of being mocked or embarrassed.

When it comes to your retirement preparation, this can translate to you choosing a situation that allows you to be an equal participant in the development of your retirement strategy. Ensuring you’re on the same page with your spouse and/or financial services professional is a step in the right direction.

The next trait mentioned in the study is Dependability.

In successful teams, each member has a specific role and knows their part of the bigger picture. The entire team knows the plan and the big picture goal. This allows each member of the team to strive for a common goal.

When you think of your financial picture, think of your investments, 401(k), pension, and Social Security all as members of your team. They each have a role in your retirement. Especially when it comes to your income. What will each of them provide you on a monthly basis? Is it capable of covering your expenses? Is there a gap that needs to be addressed?

Each part of your financial life plays a role in your financial security. The team is all working toward the same goal. A concrete plan can give you the transparency needed to identify if there is any gap. Once you know what you might be missing or lacking in income, then you can take steps to address the situation.

That plan will help them deal with potential changes or fluctuations in their personal economy. It fits nicely with the next trait: Structure and Clarity¹.

Clear communication and goals are essential to successful teams. Working with your financial services professional and defining your goals can help you work toward those goals.

I believe the last two traits from the Project Aristotle study are tied together. The last two traits are Meaning¹  and Impact ¹.

Meaning can be a sense of purpose or perceiving value in the work itself. And meaning is different for each of us.

The value could be teamwork, creativity or simply financial. On the other hand, impact is more about the results of the work; the end result.

To assess how you feel about meaning and impact, I suggest asking yourself a few questions. You can start with these: What are your dreams and goals? What do you hope to do, see and achieve? What does retirement mean to you?

Financial security, supporting family, helping the team succeed, or self-expression are all great options for meaning. It’s quite likely that for many individuals’ true meaning comes in some combination of those, plus so many more possibilities. Regardless of the details or ingredients to your meaning, that meaning puts the entire retirement journey into a uniquely personal perspective.

I believe all this equates to your legacy — what you will leave behind. That doesn’t necessarily only mean money or inheritance. The time that you spend and then memories that you create are just as important as, if not more important than, your financial legacy. The members of your team (in this case, your retirement strategy) may benefit from working together.


A financial services professional can help you build a team that will work toward your goals.