Building Spirited Business Teams that Think and Act as a Team

In the first article of this series of seven, I put forward a proposition that there are two types of business teams.  Teams with spirit and teams without spirit.  Business teams with spirit are winners.  Teams without spirit are losers.  Athletics provide a helpful illustration of the way in which I use the word ‘spirit’ or ‘spirited.’ When we apply the word ‘spirit’ to a team (or an individual) we are saying that they demonstrate behaviours that indicate life force energy, such as being feisty, courageous, energetic, funny, determined, curious, genuine, collaborative and focused.

In last week’s column we addressed the fact that teams with spirit are teams that are magnetized and united by a shared vision.
The term ‘teamwork’ has been overused, often without an understanding of the depth of this term.  Being a team player is about having the self-awareness to identify how what you are doing and saying impacts others.  Teamwork starts with looking in the mirror and asking ourselves a confronting question, ‘is  my behavior and communication switching others on or switching them off from our common purpose?’
Here’s what I see in business teams around the world.  If you take a team, place them in a room to conduct a teambuilding exercise, or climb a mountain with them to strengthen teamwork, this does not result in a sustainable shift in the way this team works together.  Soon after they return to the stress of the real world, they revert back to their old behaviors.
Why can’t they sustain the team spirit they thought they had in the team build exercise?   Mainly because their ego gets in the way.  No amount of intellectual reasoning, statistical proof, recipe style tools and techniques, or innovative teambuilding exercises will make any difference in a team who are relating to each other with ego defenses.   Business teams that need teamwork initiatives to help them build team spirit and behave as a team, are teams whose egos are getting in the way of genuine connection and collaboration. To build winning business teams, therefore, it is vital to teach the teams how to stop sweating the ego stuff.
How do you build a team that genuinely thinks and acts as ‘Us?’
Perform a team audit to discover the behaviors displayed by the team.  List those behaviors that act as a barrier to collaboration – as well as those behaviors that that support partnership. This is best done by an outside professional to ensure objectivity.  See      HYPERLINK “” for excellent audits.
The team explores the results of the audit and takes ownership of the fact that:
We display some ego behaviors that create barriers between us and are holding us back from producing spectacular results.
We display some spirited, collaborative  behaviors that we need to strengthen
The team writes and commits to a Team Charter that states:
They will individually and collectively commit to building a spirited collaborative team capable of producing extraordinary results.
Each team member will strengthen their own spirited team behaviors and minimize their ego behaviors.
They have permission to offer each other honest feedback each time ego behavior acts as a barrier to the team’s success.
Offer professional coaching for team members to assist them in acquiring enhanced skill in the agreed spirited team behavior and communication skills.
Agree quick win team goals.  Obtain a baseline measures for these goals.  Agree timeline for measuring success.
Build in 10 minutes for feedback after meetings – a progress report on the team’s spirited behavior and communication.
Measure and celebrate achievement of the identified goals.
In next week’s column we will talk about the third characteristic of a Team with Spirit – Demonstrating Courage in Words and Action

Invite Sandy to do her seriously funny Keynote Talk:   ‘What Vision? I don’t see a Vision.’  She will show your audience what makes a vision work.


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