For those of you on the team journey, what I’m about to describe will probably resonate to your core. For teams not yet committed to the pursuit of high performance, it will sound strange.
The difference between High Performance teams and really good teams is the level of genuine care and concern the members demonstrate towards each other. In my book, The Secret of Teams, we call this community.
A working definition of community – a place where people know each other deeply, serve each other unselfishly, celebrate with each other often and endure the setbacks in life together. Some have said it is a place where people love each other.
In a results-oriented world, to invest ANY time on the soft, touchy-feely idea of knowing people deeply and serving them unselfishly sounds more like a Sunday School class than it does a board room. This is where faith comes into play – literally stepping into the unknown.
Where does the faith come from? In this context, it comes from leadership. Most teams will not invest in the development of genuine community on their own at the depth I’m describing. A leader, maybe you, must say, “We’re going to do this. I believe this will pay huge personal and organizational dividends in the future. (That’s the faith part.) Building genuine community is part of our strategy to achieve high performance.”
It’s not unlike when you put money in the bank and trust your investment will generate a return (faith again.) It is an investment you make knowing the return will not be immediate – but you make the deposit anyway. That’s what building community is like. There is a return; but first, you must make the deposit.
How do you turn this idea into action? Here are some things your team can do to cultivate community…
See how much you can learn about the members of your team – their past, their present and their dreams for the future.
Celebrate accomplishments along the way – big and small. These can be personal or professional in nature, individual or team. Just make it authentic and frequent.
Express gratitude and appreciation freely – A “thank you” goes a long way. Say it to individuals and the entire team… often!
Constantly look for ways to serve others on the team – Think others first, and show your fellow teammates by assisting them whenever you can.
Never stop looking for ways to do life together - That’s the essence of community. It’s not about me; it’s about we.
Be patient – If you stay the course and continue to make “deposits,” community will grow deeper and deeper over time. It is cumulative.
Be careful – When I tell people community is what separates good teams from great ones, some want to rush to build community. It’s important to remember, high performance teams have ALL THREE elements needed for success: Talent, Skills AND Community. If you just develop community, you may have more fun, you may even love each other, but you’ll still be a lousy team.
Take a leap of faith, do the counterintuitive thing. Add building genuine community to your team’s priority list and get ready for tremendous returns. You can take that to the bank!
This week, I’m excited to celebrate the relaunch of my book, The Secret of Teams. I would love your help in sharing the book online. Would you be willing to tweet now?