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A Team Needs To Know Their Common Goal

Most people do not go to work thinking, “Today, I am really going to drive share-holder value!”

How many people work in teams, yet are unable to state what exactly they are working towards? Larger organizations might have a vision or a mission statement, but even then, can individuals in that company tell you what it says? Even if they can, how many of those people are motivated by the words in those statements?

As leaders, it is our job to help guide and motivate our teams, but what is the best approach to do that? Many of us have seen the scenario where someone in upper leadership stands in front of the troops and talks about “shareholder value” and “driving the bottom line.” But it isn’t inspiring or motivational. Only those with significant stock positions care about those things. After all, most people do not go to work thinking, “Today, I am really going to drive share-holder value!” What if there was a better way?

In his ground-breaking book, Drive, Daniel Pink researched and identified three motivators which inspire people to excellence: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. A purpose is defined as something bigger than yourself. It is a common goal which motivates people to perform with excellence.

We define teamwork as: “Selfless acts towards a common goal.”

The problem is few people know what the common goal is for their work team. If they work in a large company with multiple departments, which common goal are they actually supposed to rally behind?

Here is an exercise. Ask each member of your team to write down your team’s common goal. See how many different responses you get. When I have done this in our training sessions, very few people know what to write down. I admit, this is a red flag to me.

If the team does not know what their common goal is, human nature will have them to fall back on their own individual goals. Without a common goal to work towards, people focus on their own needs, desires and convenience. When the individuals on a team are self-focused, we do not have a team. Instead, we have a group of loosely affiliated individuals who carry a common business card.

To get a team to exercise Selflessness, a leader needs to develop and communicate the team’s common goal. Call it a vision, mission or purpose statement; but the team needs to know what common goal to strive for. It needs to be something which inspires them to accomplish more than personal goals.

I encourage you to do this: bring your team together and ask them what they believe the team’s common goal should be. Get their input and formulate a statement with them which will provide the purpose Daniel Pink’s research reported is a driver for excellence. That statement should provide clarity and inspiration. It should be one sentence that a 12 year old could recite from memory and understand. It needs to be a purpose people can remember and identify with.

With their purpose defined, the team will have a common goal which will pull them together. They will begin to see opportunities to exercise Selflessness. The team can begin to move towards their common goal, achieve more and do it with enthusiasm. If each team within a larger organization knows what their common goal is, and is motivated by that goal—those teams will excel and the larger organization will thrive. The key is—for leaders at all levels to define and communicate what their team’s common goal actually is.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • What is your team’s common goal? Do they know it if you ask them?

  • When can you get them together to define it?


Making a shift towards taking responsibility and living with Selflessness is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Selflessness daily, which is why we have created our Habits of Character Action Guides.

The Selflessness Action Guide offers you a month of daily, interactive training complete with a daily reading, dig deep questions, weekly processing guides and instructions on how to use the guide both individually and with your team. The Selflessness Action Guide is now available here.

We are behind you, championing for you, your teams and your organizations as you become the leader you wish you had. We want to come alongside you as you grow to confidently answer “yes” to the question, “Would you follow you?”

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