In part 4 of a continuing discussion about creating a culture where people work well together, I again admit that these short posts are easily an oversimplification of more complex organizational realities. This is especially true since I am limiting this topic to three essential factors that I propose are central to establish a healthy and supportive relational climate in an organization – yet space limits are space limits!
Last week I discussed the need to foster a culture where people view and treat one another both as “colleagues” and as “fellow workers” (click highlighted text to read). This week I direct our attention to the third and selfless motivator that will not only lead to a healthy culture – it will also serve as the “north star” in guiding the overall direction of the organization. In short, every team member must see each other as “mission partners.” Let me explain…
In the context of organizing any team, the potential exists for mixed motivations and individual assessments of the best selection of a goal. It is therefore crucial for leadership to be the tie-breaker and to clarify the central objective of the enterprise. Once clarified, the mission of the team becomes the mission of the team. Thereafter, every member of the team is chartered to pursue that one common mission through the context of their individual role. The mission will be placed ahead of individual agendas, often including even rank or titles. Without neglecting the reality that they are each fellow colleagues and fellow workers, they must also affirm that they are “fellow mission-partners.”
This principle has been proven out in the most dangerous and fluid teams known to mankind – elite military operators. In that context team-members regularly set-aside all matters of rank and title to pursue a shared mission objective. They are soldiers first – fellow soldiers – fellow mission-partners – where individual needs and wants, as well as titles and preferences, are placed subordinate to accomplishing a common goal.
And so it is with any high-performance organization. In addition to seeing one another as fellow colleagues and as fellow-workers, each team member must also regard one another as fellow mission-partners.
The task, then, for leadership, is to clarify the value of - and need for - honoring each of these three understandings among all members of the team they lead. Not stopping there, the leader must constantly evaluate the cultural climate and reinforce any of the three that has been neglected by the team.
Thus, as ever, leadership is dynamic. And once again, we articulate one of the many reasons that it takes Courage to Lead.
Photo Credit: Samuel Zeller