Being on a team that is filled with joy, passion, and purpose is invigorating. Being on a team where the collective soul lacks joy adversely impacts everyone. A joyless team harms the people on the team and those the team serves. Here are five common reasons joy eludes a team:
1. An unclear mission
When the mission is unclear, team members scatter and move in a plethora of directions. Unity around a shared mission and clear direction breathes life into a team. People show up knowing what the team is on the planet to accomplish. What is often most satisfying is also most challenging, so a grand mission can raise the buy-in and energy of the team.
2. Corrosive team members
When negative people are allowed to sit on a team in their negativity and bitterness, the whole team suffers. Seasoned leaders have seen over and over again how the peace and joy of the whole team are elevated when unsupportive people are no longer on the team. Negative people corrode the entire team.
3. Changing expectations
When the expectations are continually changing, joy is sapped from the team because people never know what to expect. When expectations continually change, traction in one direction is elusive. When expectations are constantly changing, stability suffers and chaos ensues, and both hurt the culture of a team.
4. No successes
When a team does not sense any wins in line with the mission they have identified, the team will often struggle with issues of morale. A defeated team is a demoralized team.
5. A dispassionate leader
Perhaps nothing sucks the life out of a team more than a leader who is not passionate, who is simply going through the motions of leadership. The cliché “speed of the leader, speed of the team” is true. If you oversee multiple teams and continually struggle with lack of commitment or negativity in one team, check the “happy factor” of the leader. In my experience, there is always a relationship. Leaders are contagious, for better or worse.
In reality, leaders are responsible for all of the above—not just point five. They are responsible to give clarity of mission, steward the culture of the team, define expectations, help the team find wins that line up with the mission, and stir their own hearts for the mission and the people along for the journey.