How to Inspire Purpose in Your Team

April 25, 2017

TODAY’S TIP: How to Inspire Purpose in Your Team  

In our last post, we discussed that there are five key ingredients to creating a great team.

Inspiring purpose is the first ingredient that distinguishes great teams from good ones.

Ingredient #1: Inspiring Purpose

Whenever I ask a group of leaders, “What makes a great team?” I hear the same, accurate answer: a common goal.

It’s like saying the secret to great tomato sauce is tomatoes.

To delve into this a little more, let’s return to my grandmother’s kitchen.

On Sundays, we’d hover by the white stove stop, waiting for Nana to turn her back. When she wasn’t looking, we’d dip a torn corner of fresh Italian bread into the pot of tomatoes, basil and olive oil simmering into a boom of red sauce and sneak a quick taste.

The purpose of food is nourishment. More than that, Nana added love. She stirred frequently, added ingredients slowly, and probably smiled as she turned away from the pot and we swooped in. Her food brought us together and kept our Italian heritage alive. That’s what inspired us and made her food great.

In my experience, great teams feel great commitment to something beyond a common goal – they feel inspired by the greater purpose of their work. As a leader, you have an opportunity every day to connect people’s goals with greater purpose to their work. This is important for everyone, especially Millennials. If you want to accomplish great things together, regularly remind people of the inspiring purpose for their work.

Tips You Can Use:
Here are a few secrets from my toolkit to help you inspire your team to greatness.

  • Working One-on-One: When you delegate a project or task, be sure to explain the “Why” behind the person’s goals and how their work relates to the purpose or goals of the team or the organization. “When you do this task well, you’re contributing to the company’s vision to cure cancer for patients,” or, “By doing this project well, you’re helping the team innovate new ways of working,” or, “Even though this may seem routine, it matters because other team members are relying on your quality work product to achieve our team’s goals.”    
  • With your team: One of my favorite team development experiences that I designed is called “I am Here.” At your next team meeting, take five minutes out of your agenda. Ask people to take out a paper and write the reasons why they chose to work in your company or team. Then ask them to share their answers with the team. I’m always amazed by the common threads people offer. This experience works well in large groups as well.

In our next post, we’ll leave Nana’s kitchen and turn our attention to Palo Alto, California, where Google’s data-geeks uncovered the next key ingredient of great teams. I’ll offer more details on the other four key ingredients and actionable steps you can take as a leader to put them to work in your teams.

KEY TAKEAWAY: great teams feel commitment to something beyond a common goal – they feel inspired by the greater purpose of their work.

 

Stay tuned for our next post to learn about the next key ingredient to great teams.

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