down the whole team.
2 As a result, if you
see or hear someone acting in opposi-
tion to the attitude and environment
you are trying to create, you should do
your best to diffuse the situation and
address the individual quickly.
If you ignore your team culture or
think it’s not an important part of your
job, some type of culture will still devel-
op. That is just what happens when hu-
mans work together and share a space.
The leader’s job is to cultivate the type
of culture that will lead to success.
I was once on a leadership team that
had a very negative dynamic—the manager had a tendency to play favorites,
so many of my peers were always trying
to win favor by badmouthing or undermining the others.
I remember being very frustrated
that this was allowed to happen and
decided that whenever someone came
to me to complain about another team
member, instead of sharing that feed-
back, I would coach the complainer
to tell the other person directly. If the
complaint was about how a peer was
managing a project, I would talk about
how that person could improve and
come up with a plan for the complainer
to help that other person succeed.
At that time, I was reacting to the
problems I saw, but in retrospect, I
realized my actions ended up creating
a cohesive team—one where people
were encouraged to help one another,
and if they disagreed, would always try
to sort it out themselves.
A leader should help create mutual
vulnerability among team members.
This can be done in a few ways:
• Force collaboration. Have team
members work together to solve a
problem or complete a project.
• Encourage people to talk to one another directly. Foster an environment of
peer coaching and resist being a proxy
for critical feedback.
• Reward and recognize collaboration.
Drive for shared outcomes that celebrate team successes.
• Build trust. Create opportunities
(for example, summits or meetings) for
people to build trust with one another
and get to know each another as people—not just as coworkers.
There are many more strategies,
but the key is to create opportunities
where people can connect. Help build
trust among team members by allowing
them to resolve their own conflicts without you being the mediator. Over time,
this will create a group of people who
can trust one another, which, in turn,
will create a cohesive team culture.
Define Your Culture
by Knowing Its Value
Defining a team culture is not an easy
job. Once a culture has been established, it is easy to see its signposts. But
when you are new to a team or working to develop a positive team culture,
it can be challenging to know exactly
what it takes to build a culture.
Before you start picking rituals and
values you think “sound” good, start by
going back to the very beginning. Ask
yourself: What is the value of this team?
Really think about it. Why does this
team exist? Think beyond the function
that the team serves for the organization as a whole (for example, coding or
design). Why are we a team? The answer
to this question is not always clear.