Team Resilience and Common Purpose

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Last week, I shared with you the six characteristics of a resilient team as follows:

A resilient team:

– Has a common purpose;
– Has a high level of trust for each other (or as Peter Hawkins in his book Leadership Team Coaching says: ’enough trust to disclose their mistrust’);
– Has candid and honest conversations;
– Can think resiliently;
– Manages its energy as well as its time;
– Has habits/rituals/behaviours that support its resilience.

This week, we’ll look at Common Purpose.

Katzenbach and Smith in their seminal work The Wisdom of Teams (1993) tell us that ‘A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals and shared approach for which they are mutually accountable.’

Sounds obvious, right?

Not necessarily. When we talk to teams about their Common Purpose it is not always clear – they can’t always articulate it clearly. Common Purpose is the ‘joint endeavour’; the thing that pulls us together, gives us something to focus on and brings us back together when we are going off target.

Common Purpose should:

– Translate into clear performance goals;
– Connect to what you believe in personally (if you’re out of sync with your team’s common purpose you need to ask if you can continue working in that team – or organisation!);
– Be something that can get you through the tough times and the good times;

  • Be re-visited. It is not necessarily set in stone for ever.

Your common purpose should be visible at all times or at least visible in people’s minds.

So if your meetings, tasks, priorities and conversations are taking you away from your common purpose…. You can ‘name’ it and get back on track.