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Blog, Reviews & Articles

Navigating Organizational Growth, Part 1 Activating Purpose: Step one in building high-performing teams

Quality Digest

by Richard S. Hawkes | May 2, 2022 

How many meetings have you been in that caused you to ask yourself, “Why am I here? What am I doing? What’s the purpose of this meeting? Are we accomplishing anything?” I call this “The Swirl.”

High activity, low focus. Intense motion, little direction. And it’s exactly what the experience of a high-performing team (HPT) should never be. Activating purpose is an antidote to precisely that kind of organizational drift. In an HPT, we know why we’re meeting, why we exist, what we’re seeking to accomplish, and how we are doing it. All of that begins with clarity around purpose and leadership.

Great teams are animated by purpose. It doesn’t have to be a world-changing purpose—some high-minded or altruistic ideal. It can be straightforward, simple, even functional. But HPTs have a clear raison d’être, and it’s important that the purpose is explicit and understood by everyone on the team. Perhaps it goes without saying, but that purpose is not freestanding; it should have a clear relationship to the larger organization.

In order to identify its purpose, a team should create a team charter. This written document clarifies the team’s purpose, leadership, outcomes, and in-team commitments—the everyday agreements that define how the team comes together to fulfill its purpose.