When pride is present at work, it inspires individuals and teams to achieve more, communicate better, and build upon each other’s strengths. When it’s not present, it can get ugly, really ugly.
Most successful teams carry a high level of pride to the work they do and whom they do it with. But as a leader, how do you create pride within a team. Surely it is not a given any time a team forms to take on a significant goal. Pride for a team or organization has to deliberately be developed and massaged by the leadership. It comes from a conscious effort and genuine love of the team and its purpose.
Pride helps people enthusiastically do their job and get through hard times.
I always saw that developing pride within an expedition team was an integral part of my role as an expedition leader. During the extended backcountry expeditions I led, I would be getting my clients and students to regularly push their comfort zone mentally and physically while challenging their tolerance for adversity and uncertainty.
No, these moments didn’t happen every day but when they did come about I needed the team members to feel the pride in what they were trying to accomplish and who they were doing it with to launch themselves into challenging situations. It could have been have a 4am wake up to accomplish a long sea kayak day before the winds picked up at noon.
Or packing up wet tents in near freezing temperatures and hiking late into the night so we could reach the lake in time to meet the floatplane and re-ration our food. Without developing a sense of pride in the team, life in mundane doldrums of a workplace, let alone challenging situations, can be extremely demoralizing and not a fun place to be.
For a while, I sold outdoor clothing and equipment. It was a commission based sales job, I knew the products inside out and could tell real life stories to customers about using the stuff. I was good at the job and made good money for the SHORT time I did it. The job was not sustainable for me and one of the reasons why was I did not hold any pride for the team I was on or the organization.
The management didn’t do a good job expressing the mission, other than to reach the highest sales number possible, or sharing the WHY I SHOULD CARE factor. Other than financial gain, I had no other reason why I should be working for the company and that one reason wasn’t going to keep me happy and around for long.
Companies like Patagonia and Clif Bar do a great job in expressing how their WHY THEY SHOULD CARE goes far beyond just their financial success. Their employees have a great purpose for working there. Looking back at all the jobs I have had. The ones in which I had the most pride, I not only believed in their purpose but I could recite their mission word for word.
Here are 8 ways to develop pride within your team:
- Clear and Compelling Purpose: Your reason for being a team needs to be short, memorable, believable, and worth caring about. As a leader, if you are not overly drawn to the large organization’s purpose or don’t feel it is clear enough; you can develop a purpose for your own specific team. You should be proud of the purpose – pride starts with purpose.
- Celebrate Small Wins: Pride comes from achievement, so never underestimate the significant of accomplishments big and small in building pride with a team (Related: How to Motivate With Progress)
- Plenty of Positive Feedback and Feedforward: Don’t wait until the end to lavish your team with praise. To sustain people through the journey and take ownership in what they do, providing specific and genuine positive feedback is essential (Related: The Ultimate Feedback Technique of Today’s Leaders)
- Be Innovative: Try new stuff without straying from the purpose. People like to be on the edge of innovation. It could be a new style of meetings or reporting systems, or ways to show appreciation, etc. Being stuck in the same old ways does not inspire teams to try harder or develop pride.
- Have Fun Every Day: There are unlimited ways to have fun at work. As a leader, you don’t just need to create occasions but more importantly, join in when others create fun opportunities. Come up with a team name and nicknames for everyone, play games, crack jokes, and have dress up parties, etc. The more shocking (within reason) and off the wall, the better.
- Deal with Conflict Early: Be it an underperforming employee or an interpersonal conflict, there is nothing that can sink a team’s pride faster than unaddressed conflict. The sooner you deal with the unproductive conflict, the lesser it will fester and affect the team.
- Give Back: Supporting a cause bigger than your own to give back to will enhance the team’s greater purpose. Find a non-profit the team is interested in supporting or find ways to support a cause the organization is already affiliated with. Financial contributions are always nice but contributing time and human resources is often more impacting and can also lead to a quality team building opportunity.
- Invest in Your People: Constructively helping people stretch beyond their current abilities, knowledge, and/or level of self-confidence, will help them become more valuable to the organization and to themselves.
The ways in which the development of team pride gets accomplished is through establishing a culture of excellence and by taking advantage of every opportunity to show your love for the team and develop your people. Incorporating these strategies into your leadership style will yield excellent results and establish you as an effective leader.
Until next week… Embrace the Adventure
Shawn Stratton is an international leadership and team building consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author, Ironman competitor, and expedition guide.
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© 2016 Shawn Stratton. All rights reserved.