Team Building: Stories Define Your Purpose

Has your team defined its "why?"

Summary
Transcript
What can top athletes and coaches teach you about organizational culture and team building?

Don Yaeger is a former journalist for Sports Illustrated Magazine, an acclaimed speaker and the best-selling author of nine books. In this video, Don answers the question: How can I build a high-achieving team?

Having worked with and/or interviewed many of the world's top athletes, coaches and leaders -- including Michael Jordan, Nick Saban, Serena Williams, John Wooden, and dozens of others -- Don provides exclusive insights for building your best team. "The number-one answer that great leaders have shared with me that's allowed them to build great, sustainable, winning teams is they are aligned with purpose and they know why their organization matters.

These great teams call it their 'why.' What are we doing and who are we doing it for?" When teams understand their "why," they work more collaboratively toward that shared purpose and achieving their goals.

Don also shares a proven approach to communicating your why: Tell stories. Stories personalize your business; they put a face to your products, services and the customers you reach.
The number-one answer that great leaders have shared with me that's allowed them to build great, sustainable, winning teams is they are aligned with purpose. They have a single purpose and they know why what they do matters. They'll call it their "why." What are we doing and who are we doing it for?

When I'm working with teams to help them think about their "why," their purpose, one of the, probably the best exercises, the best ways to get there is to encourage the people at the front line, the people who are actually engaged most often with your customers or their customers, their downstream customers, to tell me stories about how what you do corporately affects the lives of others. A "why" is always human and it's always an act of service.

So you want to try to develop your purpose statement. Understand it's always about impacting the lives of others and being of service to them. So I challenge them to tell me stories, because when you can put a face on who it is that your organization helps, when you can put a face on who it is that you're in service of and you can see them, their families, what it means, then you are able to really wrap your arms around the emotional connection between what you do and why it matters.

It starts with really the ability to tell a story about who you're in service of and how that works. I was working with a guy recently on a leadership team and it was an EO type of organization. It was one of those young entrepreneurs organizations, and a young man came up to me and he goes, "I don't know that our company has a 'why.'" And I said, "I would argue that every company has a why." Every company is in service of somebody and there's a true purpose, and if you don't deliver on your purpose, others are impacted by it. And if you don't know who those others are, you will have an unemotional connection to what you're there for.

He shared with me that he owned a trucking company, a trucking firm, so I asked him, "Who are your customers? What do they use your trucking to do, and then who are their customers and what happens to them if you don't deliver, if your trucks don't deliver?" Pretty soon as he was starting to make the connection, put the dots together, he was able to realize, "Boy, if I could get my team to wrap their arms around that end-user of our service, and what happens to them if we decide not to show up today," then you start realizing, "Man, we really matter," and everybody wants to work where they matter.
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Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a nationally acclaimed inspirational speaker and author of 24 books, nine of which have become New York Times best-sellers. He is currently a Forbes contributing writer and a former associate editor for Sports Illustrate...

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