What fosters team spirit? What makes a healthy team?
All of us want that. I would even say especially leaders.
Most of us understand that progress towards a vision is more possible if a healthy team is working together.
Also, all of us want to go home at night feeling we’ve done our best, were appreciated for our efforts, and are ready to go at it again tomorrow. That’s part of serving on a healthy team.
How do we get there?
I’ve served — and led — many teams through my career. Some I would say were healthy, some weren’t, and some were “under construction”. I take complete ownership of each of those. Team spirit — healthy teams — are greatly shaped by the leadership of the team. (And, that’s a hard word when, as a leader, we know the team isn’t as healthy as it should be.)
Among the healthy teams on which I’ve served, there have been some common elements.
Here are 7 common elements of a healthy team:
Clear strategy. To feel a part of the team, people need to know where the team is going and what their role is on the team. An understanding of the overall goals and objectives fuels energy. When the big picture objective is understood each team member is more willing to pull together to accomplish the mission because they know the why and can better understand where they fit on the team.
Healthy relationships. For a team to have team spirit it needs to be filled with team members who actually like each other and enjoy spending time with one another.
Celebratory atmosphere. Laughter builds community. A team needs time just to have fun together. And, there needs to be a freedom for spontaneous (and planned) celebration. People need to feel appreciated for their work and that their participation is making a positive difference.
Joint ownership. This one is huge, because without it the team won’t be completely healthy. Some people are not team players. Period. They checked out years ago and are now just drawing a paycheck — or continuing to hold onto a title. They may be great people, but they aren’t building team spirit anymore. They don’t want to be on the team or not in the position they’ve been asked to play. Team spirit is built by people who are in it for the common win of the team.
Shared sufferings. A healthy team spirit says, “we are in this together” — through good times and hard times. In addition to laughing together, a good-spirited team can cry together through difficulties of life. Healthy teams are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.
Shared workload. There are no turf wars on a healthy team. Silos are eliminated and job descriptions overlap. Everyone pulls equal weight and helps one another accomplish individual and collective goals.
Leadership embraces team. This may be the biggest one. As a leader, it’s easy to get distracted with my own responsibilities — even live in my own little world. And, let’s be honest. Some leaders would prefer to lead from the penthouse suite. They give orders well, but do not really enjoy playing the game with the team. A healthy team spirit requires involvement from every level — especially from leadership.
It’s a challenge leaders. Why don’t you use this as a checklist of sorts to evaluate. How’s your team doing? Let’s build better teams.