Nurturing the board’s team spirit


Team spirit is believed to be a vital ingredient in the mix that helps turn a collection of great individuals into a high-performing board. But how can it be achieved?

Human behaviour expert and author, Dr John Demartini, maintains that team spirit is not about discipline or assimilation; it arises naturally when team members are respected and acknowledged as individuals. 

“Team members want to be themselves as much as part of a team,” he explains.

According to Demartini, the trick to creating a cohesive team is to acknowledge what is most important to each individual member and link it to the team’s goals. 

“When individual team members can see how their team can help them fulfil what is most important to them, they become even more engaged,” he says.

However, he says a range of factors can undermine team spirit. These include any incongruence between the highest values of the chairman and the stated mission, vision and primary objectives of the company.  So too can inequity among board members or unwise personal bias, prejudice, unfairness and unfair assessment.

“Disrespectfully putting other board members on pedestals, not appreciating or respecting them as equally contributing individuals and not honouring their unique contributions can dilute the board’s governing capacities, member’s creativity and its essential leadership power,’’ says Demartini. 

He recommends doing the following to help nurture the board’s team spirit:

  • Having each board member list the top contributions that each of the other board members have made, or are making, as this will assist in levelling the playing field.
  • Having each board member identify his or her own equal contributions to the other board members and the organisation, as this will assist in bringing about equanimity.
  • Having each board member identify what each of the other board members do that they like or dislike and then considering whether they are presently doing or have done the same behaviours to the same degree in their own lives. This can assist in calming down any unfair judgements.

Demartini adds that the chairman could foster teamwork by:

  • Focusing more time on highest priority matters and not spending too much time on trivial concerns.
  • Reawakening the board’s energy by clarifying and focusing on the organisation’s mission, vision, primary objectives and values.
  • Encouraging directors to tell each other what inspires them to serve so as to continually inspire the team.
  • Reminding directors why they joined the board.
  • Conducting candid board member assessments.
  • Ensuring board members meet regularly.
  • Developing plans for the board’s development.
  • Ensuring board meetings have meaning and focus on priorities.
  • Avoiding one-way communications and autocratic leadership styles.
  • Appraising how board meetings have gone and how they can be more effective and efficient.
  • Discussing what the next meetings will cover.
  • Developing a synergistic board-CEO partnership.

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