I best understood ‘Team Spirit’ in a short story from a book by Prakash Iyer – The Secret of Leadership. It made a deep impact on me as a Leader, Coach, and Mentor!
Once a young traveller, Ananiaah, visits Italy. On taking a short walk around the neighbourhood she notices a group of men clanking away at huge rock boulders with a hammer. They threw repeated blows to break the boulder into smaller pieces. She walks up to one of the men and asks him ‘what are you doing’? Irritated with her question, the man makes a firm face and replies – ‘Can’t you see, I am breaking boulders, what else’? Taken aback she excuses herself and walks ahead. Around the corner, she sees another group of men clanking boulders. Curiosity dictates term and she puts the same question again. This man smiles at her and in a warm proud tone replies ‘I am making a valuable contribution towards building the most spectacular cathedral in the World’
Moral of this story sums up everything big and small that embodies the 2 words ‘Team Spirit’
- How many see ourselves at work doing a mandate, less impacting task without understanding the purpose of its outcome?
- How many of us feel elevated to truly understand that we contribute towards a larger cause? See the bigger picture, a purpose higher than ourselves?
In my learning experience of 15 plus years, I strongly believe that organisation build a passionate work culture which echoes the rich principles of Team Spirit as its foundation. I refer to it as a 3-step behavioural process of achieving high Team Spirit –
Purpose, Emotional and Collaborative !
Step 1 – Connect with The Greater Purpose:
Business strategies are made at top level but executed by front end employees. Do your employees understand the greater purpose? Do they know why they do what they do? Do they see themselves as only clanking boulders? Or do they realize and relate to the greater purpose, a higher meaning? Clarity on these questions results into an employee behavioural change that offers you an unmatchable practice of high Team Spirit. Employees onboard with purpose are deeply engaged and not just show up to work with no real intent of any accomplishment or purpose.
Step 2- Be Engaged Emotionally:
Support employees greater purpose with an ‘Emotional’ connect. How does your sales team behave when monthly target is not achieved? Is it acceptable to them? Do they give you a detailed post mortem report of why targets were missed? Do you hear more of excuse? Do they even care? When you are emotionally connected to a purpose, your subconscious mind pushes you to achieve your objective with that much more vigour and grit. It is emotions that drive us Humans to achieve the impossible. Invest in building that Emotional connect with your employees and reap the rich benefit of a united Team Spirit at the very heart of your people strategy.
Step 3 – Collaboration Culture as oppose to a Cooperative One:
A collaborative mechanism governs peak Team Spirit. In a cooperative culture, we provide support only when asked for. It is always about being considerate for others and celebrating others success. It is about the communication that individual goals are accomplished if the team achieves its goal. This thought gets employee do not restrict on doing ‘self’ work alone but draw greater satisfaction from contributing towards a team members success. This becomes a bedrock of a mature Team Spirit!
The star of the Team should be the Team – Period
To Put My Thoughts Together:
Team spirit needs to be cultivated, nurtured, and blossomed as an ongoing process. Team Spirit must be kept right at the centre of companies’ strategy from a people, process, and business standpoint.
It’s the perspective that counts – Do employees see themselves as clanking boulders or making a valuable contribution for a bigger cause, choice is ours to make – behaviour is ours to define!
P.S. – Story adapted has been tweaked a bit from original.