6.3 Team Building – The Power of Relationships

Great teams are built on great relationships among the team members. Relationships enable great teams more powerfully than leaders, though leaders play an essential part. Leaders:

  • share a deeply compelling vision that intrinsically motivates each team member
  • reinforce how the team will work together

There is a natural flow to great teams of individuals when working together, supporting each other on their journey. It is like that of a river flowing down a mountainside. 

Great teams are built on relationships that flow.


Great teams self-organize around a shared vision for the difference they can make together. They support each other on their shared journey in a way that enhances one another’s contributions.

The Power of an Intrinsically-Motivating Shared Vision

Research has shown that a shared vision for the difference the team can make together is the only common factor among successful teams. The Guiding Principles that team members follow, and their acceptable boundaries, vary from team to team. Trust and respect are requirements, but they can look very different in each team.

The team’s Purpose and Vision must be in service of others, and align with our Stage III Fulfillment (Contributing to the Benefit of Others, now) or Stage IV Fulfillment (Legacy – Acting for the Benefit of Others, Although We May Not Live to See the Result).

The leader is responsible for ensuring the team is performing at peak performance, unleashing the intrinsic energy found in their shared vision. Enhancing individual contributions is vital, but that support must be in service of bettering the whole. It is never about any individual alone. Leadership reminders of the shared responsibility in service of something bigger keeps the flow moving in the right direction.

An Unusual Shared Vision – Rocky Flats

In their book Making the Impossible Possible: Leading Extraordinary Performance: The Rocky Flats Story, Kim Cameron and Marc Lavine share a remarkable story of a hostile unionized workforce that put itself out of work, voluntarily, and far exceeded the goals of the project.

The Challenge

Cleaning up Rocky Flats, America’s most dangerous nuclear weapons production facility, was estimated to cost $36 billion and take over 70 years. For many years, the unionized workers would not cooperate, as they would be putting themselves out of a job. The culture was toxic, and a solution seemed impossible. Kaiser-Hill was hired to tackle this monumental job.

The Response

Kaiser-Hill taught leaders at Rocky Flats how to engage union members in a positive fashion during assessment phase:

  • What is your vision for the future of the site?
  • What role can you play in making that possible?
  • How do we get started? What should we do?

The Result

The workers did put themselves out of work, while saving $30 billion and finishing the project 60 years sooner than estimated. Why? The team responsible for getting the work done shared a vision that was deeply meaningful to them. They felt individual and collective responsibility to serve that vision. Leadership gave the team the chance to own the outcome. In addition, leadership provided respectful outplacement transition support. They did what humankind does when we have a shared vision that benefits something meaningful that is much bigger than ourselves, they were there for each other.

A Team United, Always – Big 10 Champs

In 1969 and then again in 1971, University of Michigan Football teams I was a part won Big Ten Championships. The Big Ten Championship had been achieved only once at Michigan in the previous 19 years. How did that happen in two out of three years?

Clarity of Shared Vision. Coach Bo Schembechler conveyed that we were working for something much bigger than ourselves—we were playing for each other, in service of all who cared about the University of Michigan, as a team, not as individuals.

Regular Reinforcement. The shared vision was reinforced daily, that we were there for something much bigger than anything we could do alone. The lessons and results were life changing for those on the team.

Fostering of Deep, Caring Relationships. The deep, caring relationships we had for each other, built on trust and respect, are still powerful to this day, as both teams reunite every five years, because we still care so deeply about each other.

A Team United, On the Court – The Bad Boys

The Detroit Pistons of 1986-1992, known as the Bad Boys, demonstrated how to win as a team, without deep ties and connections with one another off court. The commitment of each team member to the shared vision and purpose of the organization was the essential criterion. They won the NBA Championship twice in a way that captured the attention of the nation. Each player committed to helping the team first, as each had a different role to play in the success, and individually they stayed in their roles; the team success followed.

The Power of Community

 

When we ask athletes, leaders, or exceptionally talented individuals to share their greatest joys, their greatest accomplishment, most respond with team achievements. Seldom does a reflective person share an individual success over a team success. We are wired for long-term survival as a community.

 

Leadership Challenge Questions

  1. What role are you playing as a leader to enhance deep connection to a meaningful shared purpose?
  2. Is a clear purpose to contribute to the benefit of others now (Stage III Fulfillment) or to contribute to the benefit of others long-term (legacy; Stage IV Fulfillment) the driving force for your decision making?
  3. What are you doing to build trust in your organization?
  4. Do all members of your team know they are valued as individual contributors to something greater?

 

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.1 GREAT TEAMS: CORE IDENTITY ESSENTIALS

 

Sculptor Jane DeDecker captured the essence of the message University of Michigan’s Cardiovascular Center has for all visitors. This larger-than-life-size statue captures a caregiver and patient caring for and trusting each other on the journey they are about to pursue together.

A Shared Core Identity

What is it that enables highly competent individuals to integrate into great teams and thrive naturally? It is only with the support of others that our competency can be utilized as a part of something bigger than ourselves. A set of individuals create a team that shares a Core Identity. We will share a few of the fundamental requirements for great teams to thrive.

In the simplest of terms, a great team has a Core Identity built upon two essential Guiding Principles: Deep Caring and Mutual Trust in service of others. Organizations may select the words that best represent how they like to be treated and like to treat others, but they must relate to and include these two principles. We have experienced working with organizations that failed to have one or both, and despite our efforts, they are no longer in existence.


 

“In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.” – Margaret Wheatley


Guiding Principle Requirements: Caring and Trust

Deep Caring

Diversity People Huddle Teamwork Union ConceptLove may be the basis of this Guiding Principle, but may not be politically correct in your business world. Deep Caring surfaces our need to be cared about, to be respected, to give and receive compassion and empathy. The “deep caring” concept lives around a feeling of loving and being loved in context of what provides a secure and safe environment.

Stories of Deep Caring from our Clients

These are examples from clients of what their organization has looked like at its best when deep caring was exemplified. They touch our hearts, and we do not forget when we have witnessed the Guiding Principle of Deep Caring in action under pressure.

  • One of our team members was diagnosed with cancer last year. She chose to follow a non-traditional method. We have held fundraisers to help her pay for everything insurance didn’t cover.
  • (From a third-generation employee) My grandmother had a baby, and when Grandpa went to pay the bill, he found that the president of our company had already paid the bill.
  • Our owner took time for a customer who could barely come up with the deposit for a $10K purchase, while a much larger customer waited for him. All customers are important and that is how we treat everyone.
  • We sponsor Christmas for an underprivileged school. T-shirts, breakfast and lunch, gifts, and for some, family gifts; 40 team members participated. We end up feeling like the beneficiaries.
  • I was young and stupid and got into trouble, and the company helped me get through the tough times. I would be in real trouble if it were not for the company.

Mutual Trust 

TRUST process business concept diagram presentation backgroundOrganizations can select other words that defines their journey that promote flow in organizations and relationships. Once again, we are seeking the sense of safety and security that words like Integrity, Honesty, and Responsibility also describe.

In our work, we like the word ‘trust” because it is both the name for the concept and the action that results from building it. Trust must be continually earned, and can be lost anytime. This Guiding Principle, once compromised, questioned, or violated can become irreparable (e.g., scandals and disasters at Enron, AIG, BP, Exxon), or take generations to forget or forgive. As leaders, we need to understand the responsibility of continually earning trust through our actions.

Stories of Deep Trust from our Clients

These stories of Trust instill a feeling you are in a safe place where your back is covered, even when you do make a mistake.

  • Our customers trust us, they want us to succeed, they give us competitor pricing. They do not do this with our competitors.
  • The president’s open communication on what happened, and how we were going to overcome the challenges. It meant a great deal to many of us.
  • A service company delivered a truck with wallet left in the cab. We immediately returned the wallet to the rental company, who then returned it to the owner.
  • Our team started a trust-building meeting to communicate openly on the good, the bad, and the ugly among us. It is making us a stronger team.
  • We sold a customer a flawed design that failed. We stepped up and fixed it, and continue to support each other today. They could have left us with a massive bill for the failure, but did not, because we made it right.

 


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead


A Deeply Meaningful Purpose in Service of Others

These two Guiding Principles, when in service of a deeply meaningful Purpose that contributes to the benefit of others, attract the right team members, and produce sustainable success. As shared in Blog 4.1, the Purpose is not to be self-serving, rather focused on gaining the joy of being a part of a team that has made a difference. As Margaret Meade points out, it is a community’s shared commitment to a deeply meaningful purpose that makes significant accomplishments possible.

When you build your Foundation of Winning on that simple platform of a Deeply Meaningful Purpose for benefit others—with Guiding Principles of Deep Caring and Mutual Trust—you will be on your way to building a sustainably profitable organization.

Like all Guiding Principles, these two—Deep Caring and Mutual Trust—are how we like to be treated and how we like to treat others. They are not constituency-dependent: they must apply to all we connect with, all the time, especially when under pressure. It will be the stories of exemplification and violation that will more accurately define what is meant by the words. When under stress, team members will remember the stories of what we look like when at our best, not the words on the wall. In time, the words remind us of stories, and the stories become feelings that will guide actions for future decision making.

The Biological Impact of these Two Guiding Principles

Feelings we experience from being in an environment that is caring and where trust is felt have a biological base. The chemical serotonin is activated when we feel valued and proud, and when we look out for others. This trusting and caring environment inspires us to feel a responsibility to look out for each other, with no expectation of something in return. When we do this, others in turn look out for us, and it becomes a circular and reinforcing system that promotes a safe place to live and work.

Another hormone, oxytocin, is activated when we experience friendship, trust, and physical touch, and it reinforces positive relationships and trust. It can be activated through acts of kindness, including simple gestures that demonstrate deeper caring, with deep meaning.

An abundant mentality touches both Caring and Trust. A key component of the Foundation of Winning is a positive and abundant mentality. Oxytocin fosters the generosity found in those with abundant mindsets, and it can even be activated by witnessing acts of kindness. Think about your responsibility as a leader understanding the impact you have as others witness your actions. What acts are being witnessed by your team? Are they serotonin and/or oxytocin creating?

Studies have shown that serotonin can contribute to extending life. We live longer when we live and work in environments that feel safe, secure, and protected. As leaders, we need to own the responsibility for enhancing the lives of our team members, while creating an environment that attracts team members who desire to attain greatness for sustainably-profitable organizations.

 Leadership Questions

  1. What does it mean to you as a leader to have an impact on the life of your team members?
  2. How clearly is trust found and exemplified in your organization?
  3. How clearly is caring lived and exemplified in your organization?
  4. Do you share stories that exemplify trust and/or caring in your organization?

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.0 EXCEPTIONAL TEAMS – AN INTRODUCTION

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I have been privileged to spend 20 years in the consulting business and 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. My work has revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to my life experiences.

blog6-0-1-teambuilding

My wife is convinced that the teams I played football with for University of Michigan have reunions every year. Not true. The 1969 and 1971 Big Ten Championship teams under Coach Bo Schembechler have met every five years since the ten-year reunion, for a total of sixteen reunions so far; another is coming up soon. We brought national recognition to the university and earned trips to play in the Rose Bowl. Although we did not win the bowl games, the bond we forged on these teams has transcended details about who started, who was the star, who was walk-on, who was fast, and who was slow. Was it our success that brought us together, or was it our closeness that made us successful?

An Overview of the Building Blocks

In the Section 6 blog posts, we will explore the elements required to build exceptional teams. For many people, success while on a team has deep meaning, whether from being part of a band, orchestra, or department that excelled.

Core Identity Requirements

There is a biological basis for the depth of meaning that comes from participating in a group effort that possesses a caring and trusting environment: serotonin and oxytocin are activated, and in turn, deepen and reinforce the positive experience. We will describe this phenomenon further in our next blog post, which focuses on the Core Identity Requirements for great teams.

A Team is Only as Good as Its Leader

In blog post 6.2, we will describe the traits of great team leaders, who create and foster the culture that determines the success of the team. Over the years, we have learned that there is no single personality type of successful leader. In my early days as an athletics administrator, if there was a coaching position to fill, I thought we should pursue dynamic and inspirational individuals. I came to realize, there is no correlation between a loud and charismatic leader and team success. This is as true in business as it is in athletics. Today, the focus of our practice is building leaders who intrinsically energize their teams to realize a shared vision, regardless of their natural behavior. That ability can come from the quiet, calm thinker as easily as from the more dynamic and expressive individual, if their heart is for the organization’s vision.

Techniques and Tools

In blog post 6.3, we will look at techniques for relationship building, and in 6.4, we will introduce the Team Survey we use to assess how strong a team you may possess.

An Iconic Description of The Team

For now, I’d like to share Bo Schembechler’s iconic and inspiring message on “The Team” — it is his only publicly recorded talk to his University of Michigan Football teams.

“We want the Big Ten championship and we’re gonna win it as a Team. They can throw out all those great backs, and great quarterbacks, and great defensive players, throughout the country and in this conference, but there’s gonna be one Team that’s gonna play solely as a Team.

No man is more important than The Team. No coach is more important than The Team. The Team, The Team, The Team, and if we think that way, all of us, everything that you do, you take into consideration what effect does it have on my Team? Because you can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here. You will never play for a Team again. You’ll play for a contract. You’ll play for this. You’ll play for that. You’ll play for everything except the team, and think what a great thing it is to be a part of something that is, The Team. We’re gonna win it. We’re gonna win the championship again because we’re gonna play as team, better than anybody else in this conference, we’re gonna play together as a team.

We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other! And when we play as a team, when the old season is over, you and I know, it’s gonna be Michigan again, Michigan.”

It has been enlightening, exciting, and enriching for me to learn that the principles we refined for the most successful athletic teams applied as well to teams in all organizations.  The Foundation of Winning Principles and Disciplines are how humankind was designed to work together; and as leaders, we need to understand them and how they support each other. Whether for survival or for winning, how we want to work together as a team for sustainable success is the same. We will share them with you in the Team Blogs in the next few weeks.

Leadership Questions

  1. When have you had the experience of being part of a successful team? What did that feel like?   What do you think made that possible?
  2. What is more important in your organization: team success or Individual success? Where does the most attention go toward in your organization?
  3. What are the characteristics of some of the best team leaders you have known?

5.1 The Paramount Importance of Cultural Fit

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help us and our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to his mentorship.


I bet you have a great “elevator pitch” to describe your job, or your organization.  But what about the culture of your organization? How would you encapsulate that? And when you are making a hiring decision, are you taking into consideration how well the applicant will fit with your organization’s culture? In the upcoming Foundation of Winning book, we will take a much deeper dive into Cultural Fit, but for now, l would like to get you thinking about what Cultural Fit looks like in your organization.

In the last post, we introduced the Performance Evaluation Equation:

Blog-5-1-Image-PeakPerfCulturalFit 

Long-term success starts with Cultural Fit built on these concepts, which we have shared in previous blog posts:

  • a shared Purpose that is intrinsically motivating to us,
  • a Vision for the difference in the world we hope to make over time, and
  • a set of Guiding Principles that honor who we are at our collective best as we serve our Purpose and Vision.

What does this look like in a real organization? Here is a great example of a leader who understood the importance of Cultural Fit.

Setting the Stage for Cultural Fit

Bo Schembechler and the 1969 University of Michigan Football Team

In the spring of 1969, when I was a freshman, the U-M Football Team had about 75 returnees from the 1968 team and another 75 walk-ons, including me, trying out.  As was tradition at Michigan, any male U-M student could try out for the team in the spring, but first they had to go through Football Team Winter Conditioning to earn a spot.

Bo told us his plan to reduce this unprecedented turnout to a manageable number:

Blog-5-1-Image-Bo&Quote

It was the first time he exhorted the team with this rallying cry, and “Those who stay will be champions!” is still a legendary part of the U-M Football Team ethos. Bo was also defining the culture of the U-M Football for us:

  • focus on team (rather than star players);
  • highly competitive;
  • intensely demanding, both mentally and physically; and
  • incredibly rewarding.

Bo’s concept of “the team – the team – the team” (he describes it in this one-minute 1983 video) was formed that spring.  It was the players against the world: we were going to show the coaches we would not be broken, that we had each other’s backs. To some degree, it was the players against the clock, the weights, the weather, and, at times, the coaches.  We were convinced there was no group of men in the world in better shape, willingly making more mental and physical sacrifice than us.  The seeds of the 1969 Big Ten Championship were sown that spring as the team’s ranks thinned from 150 to fewer than 80; we even lost some starters from the 1968 team along the way. During his 21 years as head coach, Bo stayed true to his promise, and any team member who was at U-M for four years and played under Bo left U-M with at least one Big Ten championship ring.Blog-5-1-TheTeamTheTeamTheTeam

“The Team Comes First” remains a mainstay component of many of the most successful organizations.  For example, to identify the organizations on its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, Fortune conducts a survey that includes a Trust Index and a Culture Audit. Focusing on Cultural Fit provides the most important filter for proper selection of the people who will enable peak performance on your organization’s team.

 

Leadership Challenge Question

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • What does flourishing look like in your organization’s culture?
  • Who are the exemplary Organizational Culture Fit team members? Which of their attributes could you seek and nurture in others to make the organization better?
  • Do we understand the difference between Cultural Fit and Job Competency?
  • Do we understand the difference between Cultural Fit and appropriate Job Behavior?

 

Upcoming Blog Posts:

5.2 Performance Component #2 – Job Competency Fit

5.3 Performance Component #3 – Job Behavioral Fit

5.4 Summary – Right People/Organization Fit

4.4 Core Identity: Pulling It All Together

For those new to this series . . .

This blog journey is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational potential.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the program clients have found aids them in achieving peak performance.  The FOW is composed of three Principles of Humankind and four Disciplines of Leadership.  Together, they are the pillars that support enduring meaningful and purposeful success. 

I was privileged to spend 25 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 4 years on the Michigan Football Team, and 11 years working with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo every day revealed there is much more to long-term success than competency. Many of the concepts that comprise the Foundation of Winning were developed from experiences with Bo, who was one of our nation’s natural leaders.

“I want to thank you for reintroducing me to the man I thought I married.”
                                                                                                                     – The spouse of one of our clients

Blog4-4-First&BestThis recognition is a powerful testimony to the effectiveness of the work we do in helping each client clarify their personal Core Identity. The process enables leaders to be more effective not only at work, but at home as well. This is possible due to the stabilizing effect of knowing oneself, acknowledging both strengths and imperfections.

Our security in who we are and the confidence with which we move through life comes from a deep understanding of our Core Identity — Who we are when we are at our best.

Blog4-4-TimeToBeBestEach of us can be undermined by our own individual sense of insecurity, and it can be further exacerbated by the feeling that others are far more confident and secure.  It is ironic that in any given group of individuals, all of them may feel this same way! Every leader we have worked with has shared or demonstrated self-doubt; a lofty title and position does not grant a sense of security. It is through a deeper understanding of the personal Core Identity that one becomes a better leader. Natural greatness is in each of us if we stop trying to be someone else, and instead be the best self we can be, with purpose.

The Components of Core Identity

In the previous blog posts in Section Four, we examined the components of your Core Identity, starting in post 4.0 with an Overview, and then moving on to the components:

Now, we can consider Core Identity holistically, and put these parts to work together. As we get better at honoring who we are meant to be, we like and respect ourselves more and more. The journey to a deeper understanding of who we are uniquely meant to be frees us from the insecurity of comparing our own achievements and acquisitions with those of others.  As we mature and move on from the quest for Comparative Accomplishment that is the hallmark of Stage II Fulfillment, we appreciate Contributing for the Benefit of Others found in Stage III Fulfillment.

Journaling: A Powerful, Essential Practice

Blog4-4-JournalingThis is also a great time to re-visit the power of journaling, a practice recommended in blog post 1.4, The Picture that Precedes Luck. Many of the people I admire and respect journal regularly, and most are remarkably successful.  Their lives seem to possess a deeper integrity, and a sense that they are wholly who they are meant to be. They have stable minds that can make smart decisions with less stress than others.  I know I feel that way on the days I journal: life just seems to be more focused and strategically purposeful. The day feels so meaningful.

Consider this question in your own journal:

Of the people I most admire and respect, what part of their Core Identity means most to me—their Purpose, their Vision, or one of their Guiding Principles? 

Your answers will touch on who you are meant to be: that which you respect in them is also most naturally in you. This kind of reflection is an important step in taking responsibility for your own life, and to see the path that will bring energy into your life to be your best self.

Leadership Challenge Questions

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • Do I take the time to seek a deeper understanding of those who I admire and respect? What components of their Core Identity may also be mine?
  • Do I take responsibility for my life and my destination, and for who I am when at my best?
  • Do I challenge my team members to take responsibility for their lives, and provide them support on their journey of discovery?
  • Have I given journaling a chance to aid me in my “at my best” development?

4.1 Your Purpose for Being

For those new to this series…

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational potential.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplinesthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to long-term success than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring success possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo possessed, but Bo may be referenced more than others as he was the one I studied most.

4.1 Your Purpose for Being

Overview

AfteBusiness People Corporate Walking Commuting City Conceptr finishing my presentation at a corporate seminar, a gentleman in his forties approached me and said, “You know, I have never given a thought to my life having a purpose.  I have been so busy earning a living, taking care of my family, and trying to stay active in the community, that I never gave a thought that my life may have a purpose.” The next week I met with a highly respected doctor nearing retirement, and I shared this story with him.  He responded, “I am not sure I knew my purpose in life at 45. I was so busy operating, seeing patients, and caring for my growing family; I was too busy running from one place to another to think my life had a purpose.”

As we discussed in previous posts, our need to seek Fulfillment has four progressive Stages. As we mature, we move through the Stages and our Purpose in life becomes more clear, more meaningful. It is at Stage III – Fulfillment from Contributing to the Benefit of Others that one’s sense of a meaningful Purpose really begins to gel.

Defining Your Purpose

Your Purpose is:

  • Your deep fundamental reason for existence, beyond making money
  • The intrinsically motivating force that brings energy into your life

Your Purpose should:

  • Illustrate your idealistic motivations for doing what is meaningful to you
  • Provide alignment with what you do and who you were meant to be
  • Get you out of bed in the morning
  • Guide and inspire you for years
  • Serve Stage III – Fulfillment from Contributing to the Benefit of Others
  • Answer the question: What would the world be missing if you did not exist?

 

Purpose Statements of Individuals – Examples

OprahWinfrey“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” – Oprah Winfrey, founder of the Oprah Winfrey Network


“To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.”
– Denise Morrison, CEO, Campbell Soup Company

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An Organization Must Have Purpose

As you personally have a purpose, so do organizations.  Each member of the team should be able to express verbally why they care about the work they do. The Purpose Statement need not be unique, and can it be modified over time.

 

Purpose Statements of Organizations – Examples

Merck  – To discover, develop and provide innovative products and services that save and improve lives around the world.

Mary Kay – We believe in a larger purpose: helping others to achieve their dreams.

Southwest Airlines – To connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.

 

Your Why Resides Within Your Purpose 

Deep inside your actions is the Why you do what you do; it is your Why that makes you attractive. Simon Sinek captured this so well in his book Start with Why (2011).  Sinek notes that it is in the limbic brain where decision-making has no capacity for language, numbers, facts, figures, or processes: the limbic brain feels what is right.  Are you in business or living a life consistent with Stage II – Comparative Fulfillment, or are you in service of Stage III – Fulfillment from Contribution for the Benefit of Others?

Connecting with Others Through Your Purpose

Patagonia, a maker of outdoor sportswear, exemplifies a company that has a lot of Why in it.  They are well-known for their commitment to fair labor practices and environmental responsibility. There is a Why to their business that goes beyond great clothing.  I shop at Patagonia because their purpose is in alignment with mine.  They make great gear, and they stand for something bigger than profits: they want to make a difference in the future of our world, which resonates with me.  Shopping at Patagonia makes me feel in alignment with who I am meant to be.  People support organizations and buy for themselves for what it does for them.  If you are an individual or an organization at a Stage III – Fulfillment from Contributing for the Benefit of Others, consumers will buy from you. They can see you have a Purpose that is in service of them.

What you do and How you do it are the proof of why you are in business. You attract others who are like-minded.  Partners, employees, and customers whose Purposes reflect a Stage III – Fulfillment from Contributing for the Benefit of Others will be loyal, committed, and dedicated, and they will help you to move toward your Vision.

Leadership Questions/Challenges

  • What is it that is intrinsically energizing to you, that touches your heart in service of improving other’s lives?
  • At the end of each day, make a note of what energized you that day, and what drained you.  After several weeks, review your notes.  What patterns emerge?
  • At work, when you organize a meeting, in addition to creating an agenda, clarify the purpose of the meeting so that all of your team is on the same page and moving in the same direction.
  • As you move through your day, think about the reasons for each of your actions.  Are they consistent with your Purpose?

 

FS&A Events Coming  Up in April & May

If you would like to learn more about building flourishing teams, please join us for FOW 101: Introduction to the Foundation of Winning on April 8, 2016, in Ann Arbor.

If you are practicing many of these principles, please join us for FOW 302: Foundation of Winning in Action May 5-7, 2016, in Ann Arbor.  We will visit Zingerman’s to see what makes them flourish, and then we will build a plan for you to flourish. Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig will be keynote speaker.

4.0 Your Core Identity – Overview

For those new to this series . . .

This blog journey is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational potential.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the system we have developed to help clients achieve flourishing success.  The FOW is composed of three Principles of Mankind and four Disciplines of Leadership.  Together, they are the pillars that support the development of talent, skills, and knowledge, and enable meaningful, enduring success. 

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo every day revealed there is much more to long-term success than talent. Many of the concepts that comprise the Foundation of Winning developed from my experiences with Bo, who was a natural leader.

4.0 Your Core Identity – Overview

The individuals and organizations most often mentioned as having clear and admirable identities in our Foundation of Winning (FOW) seminars include our parents, grandparents, Apple, the New England Patriots, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln. What individuals or organizations do you admire for what they stand for?  Are they consistent in the message they present? Does their consistent image instill trust, even when others may challenge them? What or who are the individuals or organizations you align yourself with because they reflect your own identity and values? What if you could be that consistent foundation—a rock solid, reliable force in service of something deeply meaningful?  Would people come into your life to help make your journey easier and even more meaningful?

In the next few blog posts, we will consider each of the three aspects of the Core Identity outlined below.  Consider this post a jump start for those discussions…

KEY IDEA: Understand Your Core Identity to Find Your Life’s Natural Path

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  – Steve Jobs

A primary goal on our journey through life is to understand and know our Core Identity, and then to honor it in our thoughts, behaviors, actions, and words.  Each of us is born with a unique set of natural talents.  It is through traveling life’s path that we gain insights into who we are when at our best, what we are naturally meant to do. We also learn what others can do better than us. We study and learn from our path as it reveals who we are, and has helped shape who we have become.

The Essential Components of Your Core Identity

These components build on the three Principles of Mankind discussed in our recent blog posts, and when honored they help us be our natural, flourishing best:

  1. Purpose – That which brings energy into your life, and serves others such they are willing to reward you for your efforts.  You look forward to getting out of bed to make a difference.  Purpose honors these FOW Principles:
    • Positive Vision: The more clearly we envision our role for the day, the more likely it is to happen.
    • Stage III Fulfillment: Contributing to the Benefit of Others: This stage is generative, whereas Stage II Fulfillment: Comparative Fulfillment in Service of Self is satisfying in the short term, but does not last.
    • Boundaries: They are necessary to clarify which actions best serve your purpose; they eliminate those actions that hinder you.
  2. Vision – The meaningful picture of a better tomorrow you; have faith it will be created as a result of a long term commitment to your Purpose. Vision honors these FOW Principles:
    • Positive Vision: The more vivid and deeply meaningful the legacy we desire to leave, the path to that vision shortens.
    • Stage IV Fulfillment: Legacy: This stage focuses on future benefits of your efforts today.
    • Boundaries: They clarify and define your Vision so that it is achievable.
  3. Guiding Principles – The beliefs and values that guide your actions and decisions in service of your Purpose, in route to your Vision. Guiding Principles honor this FOW Principle:
    • Boundaries: They help with focus as you move toward your vision, so that you are in alignment with your deeper inner self, and it feels right.

Discovering Your Natural Path

Your life journey has built or revealed who you are when at your best.  Moving forward in search of realizing personal potential requires reflection on past decision-making, and the resulting ramifications on your path through the jungle of life. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What went well, and why?
  • What did not go well, and why?
  • What was it you were we both passionate and successful?

Now, at this stage in your development . . . what Purpose are you prepared for, that you can address better than anyone else in the world?

Drawing A BridgeWhat is the purpose you feel a passion to serve, or to make the most meaningful difference?  It is through this study of our journey through the jungle of life that we can reveal our Core Identity.  This clarity permits a natural flow of life and honors who we are meant to be.  This clarity also permits us to say “no” when a proposed action feels wrong.

This applies to organizations as well.  As individuals who comprise an organization approach their individual potential, then, and only then, can the organization realize its potential.

Leadership Questions to Guide You to Greatness

  • Do you maintain a journal to capture your thoughts, and to discover where your energy is coming from?
  • What has your journey through the jungle of life shown you? What are you good at?  What should you let others do?
  • Who are the people you admire, respect, and relate to most?  What Principles, Purpose, or Vision is in them that may also be in you?
  • What can you do to help others see more clearly the path you are on so they may help you on your journey?