There’s something extremely powerful in a shared purpose. This may seem obvious to any of you trying to build a great team. But you’d probably be surprised how often teams do not have a common sense of purpose.

One of the more vivid illustrations I’ve seen was a non-profit organization I was working with many years ago. It was an organization more than 100 years old! This fact alone seemed to imbue the leadership team with a false sense of clarity. “Of course we know why we’re here,” was their tone as we talked.

I decided a simple exercise might help.  I passed out 3 x 5 index cards and asked each member of the team to answer one question: “Why are we here?”

I collected the cards and read each one. None of them contained anything bad, but you can see where this is headed. Not surprisingly, there was virtually no agreement.

Here’s the point: teams that excel start with a clear sense of purpose. Each of the members of the group needs to understand explicitly why the team exists.

But there’s more… high-performance teams are also able to quantify this. They have a specific goal or goals they are pursuing. They often have a scorecard of key metrics that the team manages.

One additional observation on this – the best teams often have a reason for being that goes beyond performance – it is performance plus something. One of my favorites is the idea that some teams strive to grow performance and grow people. I’ve talked with many leaders that embrace both these as criteria for success. You might even argue that without growing your team members, growth in performance will be more difficult.

Why does your team exist? Does everyone on your team understand the purpose? You may want to pass out some 3 x 5 cards and find out.

I’d love to hear from you on this! Let me know if you try it – and what you learn.

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.