How to Build a Successful (and Sustainable) Team

Leaders often believe progress is the primary characteristic of a successful team in business, since productivity and innovation drive revenue. However, leaders often forget that in order to achieve progress over a sustained period of time, they must cultivate an ethical culture where collaboration and teamwork are developed and valued.

In my latest book, Awake Ethics, I show how the most successful leaders and teams operate with a balance of peace and progress. Here are three exercises to try with your team to foster transparency, conscious communication, and engagement.

Exercise 1: Team Field Notes

Team Field Notes is a powerful exercise for cultivating a culture of transparency and continuous improvement. Many team members are afraid to ask questions or simply don’t make the time to ask the questions that would dramatically improve the quality of their work. The Team Field Notes exercise allows the team to share learnings with each other and build knowledge. It is also a way of creating a safe forum for proactively sharing questions, concerns, and knowledge amongst the team.

Ask your team members to make a list of at least three questions as they go about the workweek. At the end of the week or in your next team meeting, prompt each person to share his or her questions with the team. Discuss as a group and see if other team members can help answer the questions during discussion. Make it a priority to answer the unanswered questions the following week. As you continue to facilitate Team Field Notes, observe as your team becomes more competent, more transparent, and more comfortable exchanging questions and knowledge.

Exercise 2: Team Mission Statement

A mission statement is a simple yet profound way to align the team around your core purpose. When the team is tethered to a shared mission, the team members remain focused. They remain motivated about what they’re showing up to do each day. The mission statement is a manifestation of your collaborative efforts and your progress. Team members can refer to the mission statement in times of chaos or change. All the actions they take should tie back to and contribute toward the shared mission statement.

To write your team’s mission statement, being by identifying your what: What actions do you all take each week or on a regular basis for the organization? Next identify, your why: What is the impact on the organization? What is the impact on the world? Finally, identify the who: Who benefits from your action? Who is your end-user or customer? Write your team mission statement together. Display it in a location everyone can see and be reminded of the shared mission each day. 

Exercise 3: Team Wins and Wisdom

When team members pause to reflect on accomplishments and learnings, this fosters a sense of positive gratitude and intentional action. Acknowledging milestones individually and in a team setting cultivates motivation and a sense of community. It is the leader’s responsibility to acknowledge team members for their efforts and contributions, celebrate shared progress, and prompt team members to reflect on wisdom gained in the process.

Each Friday, spend time reflecting on your wins and wisdom individually and as a team. On Friday mornings, prompt everyone on the team (the leader included!) to write down their major achievements. Write down at least three new learnings as well. In team meeting, review the team’s wins together to acknowledge individual and shared success. Take turns sharing major wins, learnings, and new opportunities. 

Teams that find a balance of peace and progress enjoy more impactful and satisfying growth. Spending time on practices that build stronger collaboration and teamwork shows that the leaders values these characteristics as a part of the path to sustainable progress. Facilitate one or more of these exercises to build a culture of collaboration and achievement.


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