Great Team Work Needs Moral Guidance
By: Ted Lundquist, author of Taking Your Team to the Top (McGraw-Hill, 2013)
The first thing any business owner should do in order to blueprint effectively for her team is to consider the type of moral fabric she would prefer to have in her team members.
To me personally, morals are the glue that binds together the fabric of team work and what it’s all about. You can build successful teams without regard to their internal makeup, but without some sort of guidance for behavior, there is certain to be instability.
With instability come loss of production and ultimately failure to meet business goals and missions. High morals allow for smooth interaction of team members (mentally and physically), keep undue pressures off the group, and allow for stability, which in turn creates long-term success.
Avoiding a Moral Fissure
For years the Broncos worked with an internalized code that was never formally stated. But the internalization of “the Bronco way” was accepted by all and created stability of interaction among departments within the organization. This stability held fast for years and brought the team much success.
It wasn’t until the club steered away from the Bronco way that things began to unravel. There was internal distrust and poor communication. The club lost its focus. This moral fissure came about because certain personnel hadn’t been vetted in the proper manner and lacked an understanding of the teamwork culture that Denver had developed over years of success in pressure situations.
The ultimate goal is to find the correct “moral fits” for your company and avoid those that will lead to its untimely demise. This starts by evaluating the core set of values necessary to achieve the company mission or goal at hand.
Begin by asking yourself the following question.
Your Company’s Business Goals
It is vital to the success of your team that you define your purpose and the goals for your business. You should be able to answer this question in one or two sentences that clearly define the products or services that your company offers potential customers.
Some companies are created to make money, while others are focused on philanthropy. Certain businesses work hard to create new products, while others try to improve on already existing ones.
Andrew Carnegie said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
So from the get-go you have a responsibility to both yourself and your company to define a vision and push off the dock with an understanding of where you will guide the boat.
Your goals should be reflected in your morals, and your morals should be reflected in the goals you are looking to achieve. Every team has to set some moral standard concerning what it represents and the core characteristics to which it wants to implement its efforts.
This is not to say that every team is required to have the highest moral standards and values at the forefront of all its labors, but those that do build this into their foundations based on their goals are more apt to have highly productive team members who contribute to the combined work of the group.
The more productive and efficient this work is, the more likely it is that the group will achieve its goals. Lack of moral strength puts pressure on the team, both internally and externally, again stealing resources from the combined efforts.
This concept is best served when it is addressed at the beginning of any team effort, rather than being dealt with in the middle or as incidents occur.
Creating a Level Playing Field
The Air Force Academy teaches its Honor Code to every incoming “doolie” (freshman) from the very minute he is sworn in as a cadet. This code is meant to be internalized (through instruction and implementation) to set a moral standard across all members of the Cadet Wing.
Essentially, this code is a guiding light for the ultimate vision and goals of the Air Force. The service is clear on what it wants from its team members, and it tells them this from day one.
The code says: “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” That’s a pretty clear-cut, basic statement. But it ensures that everyone is working on the same page, level, and playing field, while also ensuring that all members of the team can depend on the words and actions of every member.
Self-policing through the non-toleration clause brings some internal ownership. It’s not easy, and it can be difficult for every individual, as well as for the group and the team. But this all starts with defining your business goals for your company.
The Air Force took a monumental step in making clear what it expected from its team members because it not only defined its personal goals, but also laid the foundation for every cadet and team member to come, which demonstrates the importance of understanding your own business’s goals.
Carl M. T. “Ted” Lunquist II, author of Taking your Team to the Top (McGraw-Hill, 2013) is a former football player, collegiate coach, Air Force Intelligence Officer, pro football scout and NFL Club Executive and General Manager. A renowned leadership expert, he is currently a blogger, television analyst, radio personality and commentator.