Four Things Leaders Must Communicate to a Team

A dock in Mexico presented in Media Coaching

While a snowstorm hits the northeast, I couldn’t resist looking back on some photos from a recent trip to Mexico.

During a walk on the beach one morning, I came across a pier filled with different types of birds. Pelicans, blackbirds, seagulls, and sandpipers–each very different from the other, yet together they had all the elements of a team: They moved as a group; they had a clear pecking order of priority (Pelicans, seagulls, blackbirds, then sandpipers); they had a shared interest, a common goal: finding the next meal.

In a sense, they were no different from another very successful team I saw win the Super Bowl a month ago, the Baltimore Ravens. Like a football team, or any team, this team of birds on the pier in Mexico will evolve. Some new members will arrive, some old ones will leave. That’s inevitable. But as long as the leaders on this, or any other, team continue to find ways to communicate four things, a sense of team will remain. Those four things are a sense of group, the pecking order, the shared interest, and, most importantly, an understanding that while everyone will naturally look out for his or her own interest, the birds higher in the pecking order will also look out for the interest of the birds lower in the pecking order. That creates loyalty. That binds a team together.

A team, like a vacation, a sports season, or a season of the year, is not permanent. It’s temporary. The ability of the leaders of a team–whether that’s a corporate team, a football team, a team of birds, or a family–to communicate and demonstrate those four truths to the members of the team may not impact how long the team stays together, but it will always influence what the team accomplishes while it is together.

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