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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Are You A Positive Contributor?

by Donna Fishter


Every team and organization has a picture of success. And usually leaderswill talk specifically to everyone about being “bought in” or “on board” with the goals of the team. If you are “on board”, that’s great! But are you being a positive contributor and helping the ship sail or are you just dead weight on the deck of the ship.

Here are 2 ways to keep yourself in check to make sure you are a positive contributor for your team everyday.

1. Constantly ask yourself questions that start with “what” and “how” instead of “why”. We naturally ask questions like… “Why is this happening? Why did he/she do that? Why do you have a bad attitude? Why can’t you do better?” If we ask the questions “what can I _________” or “how can I ________” then we end up engaged and ready to act. Asking questions that start with “what” and “how” changes our vantage point to be influential instead of just observant.

2. Keep yourself in check by evaluating your effort and performance everyday. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being your best day ever and 1 is when you want to go bury your head in the sand, where do you land on the scale? This is a way to keep yourself accountable to be at your best everyday for your team. If you are working to get better in a certain area you can adjust the scale to track accordingly. I call it the EP Scale (effort/performance). At day’s end you have 2 numbers. Tomorrow those numbers need to be consistent or increase a notch or two.

My philosophy is a person is either adding to or taking away from the team. You are either helping or hurting the team. There is no in between just to hang out and be dead weight. You can be a factor in moving your team forward.

Are you a positive contributor?
How can you be better tomorrow?

© 2013 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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Stronger Together

By Donna Fishter
Have you ever been lost? I mean REALLY lost. The kind of lost where that helpless feeling starts to overwhelm you and thoughts begin to run through your mind, “will I get out of here” or “will someone eventually find me”?

stronger together2

About a year ago I had a taste of this feeling when I was hiking in North Georgia. The hike began to get longer than I had anticipated and the paper map was not matching the GPS coordinates on the “Map My Hike” phone app. I knew the sun would be disappearing soon as well as the battery on my phone. I began to contemplate scrapping the “Map My Hike” app as it was draining my battery because what if I got to the point where I needed to call 9-1-1? But, surely having this app track my steps via satellite was going to help. Decisions.

I had my dog with me and she was getting tired. At some point I knew I would have to carry my 20 pound little girl. As I knelt to get water out of my backpack for both of us I looked down and saw a footprint. This was definitely NOT a large raccoon and I knew there was no way a great dane was in the woods. So I concluded that it was indeed a bear paw-print … or should I say CLAW print. So fresh it was that I actually moved my head slowly around to see if this bear was staring at me already licking its chops.

NOW it was “game on” and I had to get my dog and I out of there! Nothing against my dog as she is my best friend, but…if I could have had anything at that moment it would be another human being. There is strength found when human spirits are united in passion and purpose. More minds thinking and more hearts acting are better than one. We are stronger together.

Being a coach I immediately relate things to sports. Although not a life or death situation by any means, the athletic field is an environment where we experience this bond between human spirits. There is a synergy created when teammates commit together with purpose and passion to go after their dreams. So much can be accomplished when you are not alone.

Who makes you stronger?

© 2013 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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Do You Want To Be Good?

By Donna Fishter

Everyone wants to be good. But is “good” good enough?


In the book “Good To Great”, Jim Collins writes about why “good” is different from great and in my opinion why it’s not enough. Collins has consulted with CEO’s for decades on how to build companies with superior performance that thrive amidst chaos.  When I read the below excerpt, it changed the way I navigate life.

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives in large part because it is so easy just to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great precisely because the vast majority become quite good.” [1]

There are so many people that are just ok with being average… just being good…while the power to be great continues to lie deep within. Many people will not make the conscious choice to be better because of the investment and sacrifice that is necessary. But in reality, they are choosing… choosing just to be good.

As coaches let’s inspire our players to not be content with just doing enough to beat the other guy. Let’s push our teams to win and win big… to be “all in”, maximizing our potential and being better everyday.

The people, organizations, and teams that make the CHOICE to be great and take the ACTION necessary to move towards greatness will in the end find the success they pursue.

Do not get caught asking “why me” or “why not me”.  Ask the questions “what can I do now?” and “how can I create what I want?”.  Nothing can stop the human spirit.

“Greatness is not a matter of circumstance. Greatness it turns out is a matter of conscious choice.”  [2]

It’s up to you.
Will you commit to being great?

[1] Jim Collins, Good To Great (New York: Harper Collins, 2001).
[2] Jim Collins, Good To Great (New York: Harper Collins, 2001).

 © 2013 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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Do I Have To Trust a Teammate Like a Best Friend?

By Donna Fishter

Whenever I talk about the concept of trust in a team environment I sometimes get this look of, “so you want me to be BFF’s with my teammates?” Actually the answer is NO! You can be BFF’s if you want to! But trusting your teammates doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends and share your deepest secrets. What I am suggesting is to develop a certain level of trust in the context of the team because it will impact your success or failure.

Here are a few areas of trust to consider inside the team environment.
1. Trust that your teammate is going to be committed to a ‘team first’ mentality.
2. Trust that your teammate is going to work hard everyday.
3. Trust that your teammate will perform at a high level.
4. Trust that your teammate will maintain a high level of fitness and be ready to play when it’s game time.
5. Trust that your teammate believes in the team goals and will sacrifice whatever it takes to reach these.
6. Trust that your teammate will “have your back”.

Can YOUR teammates trust YOU in these areas?

You might not be able to trust your teammate to take out the trash in the dorm room…but you MUST be able to trust he or she in the above areas.

Learn to trust people within the various environments of life. Always consider the context of a circumstance.

A trustworthy teammate is the one I follow into battle.

© 2013 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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