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How To Create A Collective Identity For Your Team

How to create a collective identity for your team

Recently my flight to Manchester gave me an insight into how some teams are formed. On a cloudy
and foggy night, the fog got to Manchester before we did, resulting an aborted landing and an hour
or so circling waiting for a gap.

Most of us have been in similar circumstances. However, what happened to us a group of people
was illuminating. For most of the flight, we were a group of individuals with different reasons for
going to Manchester. But as the delay struck, we began to exchange wry looks, and then engaged in
more in depth conversations. We had developed from “me-ness” to “we-ness” and developed a
collective psychological identity as a result.

I noticed this because we have recently been working with executive teams that have experienced
significant changes and threats to their composition and environment. Like many teams, they
initially responded to these situations by focusing on their goals. This makes a lot of sense; a lot of
dictionaries will tell you that a team is “a group of individuals with a common goal”.

An effective team though needs to be much more than this. The very best teams create a collective
identity which reaches beyond clarity of goal and into deeper relationships and shared experiences.

At Levati, here are some of the approaches we have to help senior teams to do this:

Encourage sharing and (some) vulnerability

Trust grows from a sense of really knowing each other, and you’ve got to give some trust to get
some. We’re skilled and experienced at creating environments where executives feel comfortable
being open with each other and talking about strengths and weaknesses.

Build common ground

Not just around a company plan or vision, but about values, beliefs and experiences. What does your
team share that will withstand differences and disagreements about the company plan? We develop
the skills needed to be clear on what each individual stands for, and for really deep listening to
understand where others are coming from.

Work in live environments

We’ve probably all done values exercises in nice hotel meeting rooms, choosing and agreeing which
pictures represent us and what we want, only for it to be completely forgotten the next day. Real-
time feedback is crucial to building trust and developing a shared identity. We work with teams in
their own meeting spaces to ensure they hold each other to account about what they need to be

These three elements, creating openness, building common ground and holding to account in the
moment create that sense of collective identity that can make the difference between success and
failure at the highest level. Certainly, when you find yourselves in challenging environments, it’s
much more manageable when you’re not on your own.

Creating teams and making them work better is a core part of our business. Have a look at our new
website where you’ll find more about who are and what we do.

David and Frances
& the Levati Team

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