Communicating Value and Purpose to Teams

What is your team working toward? I’ve written several posts recently about how to build teams that succeed based on a foundation of shared vulnerability. But none of that matters if you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish. Leaders need to be able to communicate core group values, and they need to get their team members to communicate those values to each other and to outsiders.

Daniel Coyle explains in The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups that the most effective teams spend “a surprising amount of time telling their own story, reminding each other precisely what they stand for—then repeating it ad infinitum.”

The importance of narrative in creating group cohesion cannot be underestimated. The stories we tell about ourselves provide us with identities, establish our place in society and determine how we relate to others. Coyle elaborates, “Purpose isn’t about tapping into some mystical internal drive but rather about creating simple beacons that focus attention and engagement on the shared goal. Successful cultures do this by relentlessly seeing ways to tell and retell their story.” Think of these stories as cues that constantly remind your team of the bigger picture, even when the going gets tough. Stories are incredible drivers of behavior because they articulate core values.

As a leader, your responsibility is to shape the narrative that your group tells. The most important thing to remember is that you must be consistent, and that your story has to be powerful enough to motivate your team. This means focusing less on short term goals, likely boosting sales or getting new clients, and more on the long term goals and values that drive your organization. Make sure each team member knows that their individual contributions are helping everyone to achieve that goal. Make it a point to repeat the narrative at every opportunity, reminding your team of what they’re working for.

Do you have a powerful group narrative? Are you unsure of how to develop one? I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me via my websiteLinkedIn and Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you!

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