8 Ways to Create a Powerful and Successful Team Culture

In my work as a consultant to businesses and organizations, I have often found that the true impact of any team or group comes down to the strength and health of the team culture. 

A powerful and successful company culture is based on honor. I define honor as having two parts: first, the ability to see and draw out what is good in others, and second, the ability to steward relationships well. 

Here are 8 ways to increase honor in your team, family, or organization:

1. Listen More.

A team’s strength and impact are maximized when each member makes their full contribution to achieving the team’s objectives. This happens in an environment that encourages each voice to be heard. Every person needs to be invited to offer their ideas and ask for what they need, and then experience a response that makes them feel valued. Listening well is an essential practice for honoring teams.

2. Debate Without Disconnecting.

In a powerful environment, people feel comfortable to say what they think and disagree with each other without fear of punishment or shame. Healthy debate enables a team to bring their collective wisdom to decision making. Even when someone’s ideas don’t work out, they should hear, “It was a good idea, and we still want to hear the rest of your ideas. Even if this one did not work out, one of them will hit big.” 

3. Foster Trust. 

Trust is built through the exchange of truth. When team leaders allow their team to truly know them, they invite them to reciprocate with honest, vulnerable self-disclosure. Trust lowers anxiety, allows people to show up as their true and powerful selves, and facilitates effective delegation and cooperation.

4. Practice Accountability.

Accountability and healthy confrontation are a critical part of building and protecting trust. We all have blind spots and need others to give us feedback about how they are experiencing us. Even though the moment of confrontation or feedback may require pushing through fear, it contributes to a sense of safety that people aren’t hiding their opinions or grievances or gossiping about them behind their back. On healthy teams, every team member is equally responsible to give and receive feedback and hold each other accountable. 

5. Take Restorative Breaks.

Rest and play contribute to healthy work culture—they lower stress, encourage connection, and rejuvenate creative energy. At my company, we have places for people to relax and games for people to play together. We also encourage people to take breaks and share meals. 

6. Show Appreciation.

Team members need to know that they are making a meaningful and impactful contribution to the team and its objectives. Honoring teams communicate and demonstrate thanks and appreciation in various ways, including verbal accolades, gifts, opportunities, and promotions. 

7. Value the Whole Person.

Honoring teams don’t just care for a person’s ability to be productive and contribute to the team—they care about them as a whole person. When one of my employees has a sick family member, I am the first to tell them to go home and care for that person. We must look out for the interests of others—honoring what is important to those we value. 

8. Prioritize One Another.

Teams often experience conflict between the priorities of the team and the demands of other people and relationships. For example, many businesses have made the mistake of throwing team members under the bus in capitulating to the demands of their customers. Honoring teams are careful to protect their relational priorities and make sure team members get the attention and loyalty they deserve. This means being willing to set and honor boundaries to deal with the demands of those outside the team.   

These 8 practices all contribute to creating a culture where people experience the two things that enable them to be powerful and successful: safety and connection

Safety is one of the most critical factors in a team’s ability to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate. As Google demonstrated in 2012 with their study “Project Aristotle,” the number one contributor to high performing teams is “psychological safety”—a “shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” When people feel psychologically safe, they can be themselves and do not fear being embarrassed, rejected or punished for speaking up, which directly contributes to their productivity. 

Healthy connection is really an experience of love. Genuine love and care always bring the best out of people. One of my favorite examples of this is Clemson football’s historic National Championship victory over University of Alabama in 2016. Clemson was decidedly the underdog in the fight, and were losing at half-time, but came back to win in the last few seconds. When reporters asked head coach Dabo Swinney how his team pulled off one of the greatest upsets in recent college football history, he said, “Love.” At halftime, he had told his team they would win because they loved each other. The athletes said their coach had been like a father figure to them, both on and off the field, so they felt especially connected and loyal to both him and their team.

A team that honors each other by building safety and demonstrating love has a powerful ability to succeed. Love makes us do the most amazing, even superhuman things, driving us to do for others far beyond what we would do for ourselves. This is the highest goal when creating a team environment. When people love and honor each other, there is no limit to what can be achieved. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, and I really hope it helps you on your journey to having a powerful team. Please let me know your thoughts and questions below, or get in touch on Facebook or Instagram


P.S- Don’t forget that my book, The Business of Honor, is %30 off this month! Get it here!