Over the course of our careers, whether in our foundational education or our first “real” jobs, we all remember hearing one particular quote – There’s no I in team. In fact, I said it many times myself as a young leader.

Well, we were wrong.

Teams, whether made up of executive leaders, middle managers or front-line employees are the composites of individuals. We can only successfully create, develop and operate as a team when we recognize this fact and learn to use it to our advantage.


As we think about rebuilding for our future, after a year of public health, social and political crises, we find ourselves, in a position that provides an opportunity to rebuild, re-empower and redevelop our existing teams. The question becomes: how do we do this in a way that instills each team with purpose and pride?

From my experience it comes down to four key components:

teams connection relationships recognition


Whether re-empowering an existing team or building a new one, our most important, first step is to get clear. We can accomplish this in various ways that help individuals and teams to align their actions to our expectations, but also help us to build relationships with them in honest, meaningful ways.


Most teams show up as a set of representatives from various business units or areas of operation. By getting clear on the expectations of what the team is responsible for, we flip the script, causing teams to show up to their purpose first while bringing in their expertise from their respective function.


Regularly. Making time to do biweekly or monthly check-ins with team members honors the individual needs as a part of the team. As we work to prepare for another academic year, it is important to set time aside for clarifying their role and expectations for success. Most importantly, build relationships by getting to know individuals, understanding their strengths and desires for their career.


Pride and empowerment only exist when individuals and teams regularly understand, see and can demonstrate their purpose. Successful leaders build in time and methods to do this intentionally.


At regular meetings, connect back to the purpose of the team and the values of the organization. Grounding our conversations in the values and vision of our institutions resets the focus and reminds us to make decisions strategically, rather than reacting.


Formalizing the connection between our leaders and staff by deploying leader rounding allows us to stay connected to the organizational temperature. It also creates the opportunity to build visibility at all levels of the organization and create stronger relationships with those serving our organizations every day. Finally, by asking my favorite question, “Is there someone that has been helpful to you?”, it creates a channel for recognizing and rewarding employees demonstrating great service and workplace values. Leader rounding often leads us to explore more formal recognition programs for our employees as we see the evidence of its power to elevate best practices and morale.

Last, but not least…


Where do we fall down as leaders? Not building or following through on a cadence. All of the above is a moot set of points if we do not practice it consistently. Our greatest opportunity is to develop cadences around connecting with individuals, coming back to purpose and communicating on these practices.

What happens when we do? We create stability for our teams. We set expectations around how we show up for them. We build trust.

The empowerment, development and success of teams hinge on our ability to honor the “I” in our teams. When we do, we bring people together to move forward toward the most meaningful outcomes.

Not sure where to start? Well, if I were you, and I have been, I would start with one of our Destination High Performance events. This community of leaders has experienced and will share stories of their journeys on bringing teams of individuals along through cultural transformation, and how they have continued throughout the last year of chaos.

I sure hope I will see you there.

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Daughter and father talking at the table.