Declare It Then Own It

With a communications degree from Wake Forest University, I’ve studied language a lot in the past and focused on it more recently. I’ve learned a funny little thing about it: If you speak something, you identify with that definition. Meaning, you might like the Jets, or the Chicago Bears, and say you’re a football fan; but something in the brain happens when you say “I really like that player.” That player, now, whether or not they’re in a Bears uniform, or someone else’s if they get traded or sign elsewhere, you like them. You follow them. You root for them. See what a lot of New England fans did with Tom Brady and Edelman. The language creates a bond.

This is why, when I work with corporate teams, the first thing we work on with the management is to publicly speak the behaviors, goals, and accountability to the team.

This is the most important, oft-overlooked step of creating team cohesion. But it’s very simple, and it works, for three reasons:
1.    You identify with it
2.    You’re accountable to it;
3.    The team is accountable to it, and to the plan and execution of it.

There are a lot of business leaders who don’t think they need to share the wider goals of the organization with the organization. And I fundamentally disagree with that. The organization can’t produce what they do not know—and the management cannot lead on a strictly “need to know” basis. If nothing is in context, my experience is that people are more likely to make honest mistakes. 

Ignorance has two shadow feelings:
1.    I’m not worthy enough to know the plan
2.    I’m just guessing out here, doing my work.

Transparency isn’t a dirty word. It is, in fact, the primary word in the development of executable plans.

And, shadow benefit of transparency and public acknowledgment of plans:
If the employee says “yes, I accept that plan, that job, that execution strategy, the behaviors and accountability standards” you didn’t increase your workforce—but you increased your “engaged” workforce.

Lots of teams play the game.
Only engaged teams put themselves in a position to win championships.
They state their goals.
They own them.
So should we.

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