What is Team Culture?

by Donna Fishter
team1The phrase ‘team culture’ is often times used synonymously with team chemistry, team building, and teamwork. All four are high priority, but are they the same thing? After a lot of thinking, I have concluded that these concepts are similar… but different. Team chemistry, team building, and teamwork are necessary parts to the whole of team culture. Here is my vantage point.

Team chemistry is a product of getting along. It’s about how your players ‘combine’. What happens when they get together in the same room or on the field or court together? I always think of chemistry class where we combine different chemicals and get a reaction. Will the chemicals be compatible or will there be an explosion? For me, team chemistry is mainly about how the players combine in the same space and the reactions that take place. Are the players getting along? Are they able to combine forces and work together?

Teamwork is what they do together… how they function together to work towards a goal. It’s the concept of ‘we before me’.  It is everyone working together to achieve success.

Team building is an event that reveals different qualities about individual players and/or the team as a whole. It’s the challenging and sometimes fun exercises we do to build our knowledge about the personalities on the team. Planning a team building session allows coaches to gather information. Team building can help coaches predict team chemistry.

So how is team culture different than these?

Leadership guru, John Maxwell says…
“The most important aspect of an
organization is culture.”

Culture is simply defined as the ‘beliefs and behaviors of a group of people’.  Thus Maxwell is saying the beliefs and behaviors of your players are the most important aspect of your team. What do your players believe about themselves? What do they believe about you as their coach? What do they believe about the team? And then how do they behave based on the answers to these questions. What are their habits when they are together and when they are alone? I’ve had coaches ask me, “Can I really change what a person believes?” YES you can! And it is a MUST if you want to be successful.

Coaches are leaders who can intentionally mold and shape the beliefs and behaviors of their players. Team culture is created when the true essence of a team is clearly defined, when a strategy for success is accepted, and when a sense of belonging ignites ownership in the final results.

In the weeks ahead I will be sharing some key ideas that will help you mobilize a strong team culture. This is the edge to gaining a competitive advantage.

© 2013 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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