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Team Identity

“Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?” Chanted the football crowd as they aggressively pointed at the opposition football team. The answer was obvious; their kit bore both the team’s name and emblem. Of course, the crowd’s sarcastic chanting was addressing the mismatch between their performance and the reputation associated with the name on their shirts.

We see this response on the football pitch, but how often do we get feedback on our team identity at work? There are some key questions that we need to ask as a leader about our team.

Who are we? (As the football crowd asked.)

· What is our passionate purpose as a team?

· What values drive how we deliver that purpose?

Who do we want to become?

· As leaders, how are we cultivating the team culture that we want?

· What makes us a high performing team?

Who are we?

The lessons from the previous blogs on individual and cultural identity apply to our team identity too. Our identity as a team starts with our passionate purpose. Everyday Leader’s purpose is to empower people to see themselves as leaders and equip them to lead. That is why we give some things, like our podcast, videos and blogs, for free. We are passionate that people are equipped and empowered to lead. To find your team’s passionate purpose, gather your team and ask them, what are we here to do? Who do we make a difference to? What impact do we want to see? Keep asking yourself, what about all of this is important? Keep asking that question until you get a word or two that sum up the reason why you do what you do that everyone gets excitement or satisfaction from.

How do you want to deliver this? Look at a list of values together and highlight the ones that are important. Where is there overlap? These overlapping values are the way to deliver your vision. When you try the purpose exercise of asking what is important and the values exercise of how to deliver it, it needs to be a real, honest exploration, not mechanical. It should be wholehearted and maybe even at times a ‘whole-heated’, passionate exploration.

Who do we want to become?

Last week’s blog on creating a leadership identity has many top tips about being purposeful in how we develop people. The same can be said of how we can create a team identity: we have to be purposeful.

Patrick Lencioni, in his brilliant book, ‘The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team’, outlines 5 things that make a team dysfunctional. Therefore, putting the opposite of these in place helps the team to perform well. Therefore, a good team identity has:

· Trust,

· Healthy conflict,

· Commitment,

· Accountability,

· Attention to results

If we want a strong team identity, then we need to:

· Build Trust – take time to enable people to get to know each other, their strengths and weaknesses, purpose and values and passions. Time to understand each other’s motives and hopes. Create opportunities to share and help.

· Healthy Conflict – Give time to look at the tricky issues. As a leader, model honest vulnerability and how to examine issues. Give opportunity to bring issues of contention to the table and model how to respect people’s view. Model the Steel man technique of respecting a view, find a point of connection and build a bridge back to your idea. Model how to listen to understand one another, and then to aim to be understood.

· Commitment – Work with the team to establish real and honest team goals that everyone buys into. To regularly review them and for them to be the focus of any meeting.

· Accountability – When reviewing issues, agree what people are going to do, minute the actions and review them when you meet. When someone explains the reasons that they haven’t achieved an action, there is a caring holding to account and asking how you can help to help them to get this done. There are no excuses, just next steps.

· Attention to Results – The focus of the meetings is about what we want and if we are getting there. If not, why? How can we overcome the barrier to get the results we want? It is not always about data or money. It is about what we want it to look like, even down to the smile on their face.

If we want to become a high performing team, then we need to be purposeful in focusing on these 5 areas.

Can we help you?

Sometimes a team needs help to form a stronger identity. If you need someone from outside of the team to help you, then we are here to help. Colin can work with you as the leader or with you and your team to group coach you through the process to buy into a better team identity. Give us a call if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you and your team.

Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know if we can be of help to you. Contact us now:


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