The Narrative of Your Team and Why it Matters for Performance
We all have stories, beliefs, language and narratives which we tell and hold about ourselves and that shape our behaviour and how we approach situations. Being aware of what these are and replacing any narratives that are holding you back can be transformational for your performance. Do these statements sound familiar… :
“Our team doesn’t work well with that team”
“January is always a quiet month for us”
“We’re better on the operational tasks than creative ones”.
But what about extending this to entire teams or organisations?
Often when we start working with new teams within businesses, we ask them to describe their team traits, identify strengths and how they work together. It’s extremely common that team members share a similar rhetoric and narrative about the team and this impacts on the team behaviour. For example, “we’re not good at Zoom” or “we’re too busy to take on new challenges”.
These team narratives are extremely powerful because they tend to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, limiting the team and preventing people from thinking differently or innovating.
The stories that you and your colleagues tell about yourselves can become part of the team identity. This can either be negative and limiting or a driver for positive behavioural change and actions:
- What are the narratives that you currently have within your team?
- How does this impact the way that you work and what you can achieve?
- What could you replace that narrative with to inspire positive change?
Taking Control of the Narrative
Some of the best leaders are those that take control of the narrative and design the stories that they want people to talk about.
Imagine replacing “We don’t see eye to eye with the finance department” with “We’re brilliant at collaborating with other departments”. Or “We’re not great at x” with “We’re amazing at y”.
Leaders hold the key to effectively change narratives and unlock the potential of teams and solicit high performance.
How can leaders write their own narrative?
- The best place to start is to consider (and collectively agree upon) what behaviours and attitudes you’d like to see more of in your team or would be necessary to reach your goals.
- Define and develop how this narrative can positively impact your team (be specific) then proactively seek out opportunities to practise demonstrating examples of when the new narrative has contributed to success. Celebrate these successes, reframe challenges, tasks and initiatives using your new lens.
- Embed new behaviours – regularly review the way that you and your team is behaving, agree to hold each other accountable, check-in on whether you are embodying the desired narratives, values and culture that you’re trying to develop.
In the end, by crafting and reinforcing empowering narratives, leaders can foster a culture of high performance, innovation, and collaboration within their teams and organizations. Changing the stories we tell can truly unlock the potential of teams and pave the way for lasting success.