Winning attitudes to move your team forward

Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard. – Warren Bennis

Nothing will make or break the momentum of your organization faster than the collective sum of the attitudes within it. Pause for a moment and inventory the attitudes of those around you (beginning with yourself) and ask if the prevailing attitudes are positive or negative.

Each person within your organization has a lens through which they see themselves, their work, and its leadership. And that lens says much about the ability of the team to move forward.

It reminds of the story of noted English architect Sir Christopher Wren was supervising the construction of a magnificent cathedral in London. A journalist thought it would be interesting to interview some of the workers, so he chose three and asked them this question, "What are you doing?" The first replied, "I'm cutting stone for 10 shillings a day." The next answered, "I'm putting in 10 hours a day on this job." But the third said, "I'm helping Sir Christopher Wren construct one of London's greatest cathedrals." Each worker had a lens - everyone does.

Building a strong team and culture within your organization hinges upon many factors but none so powerful than attitude. Our actions tend to reflect our attitudes. Our words do the same. So the conversations that take place in the hallway, the whispers in the break room, the secret emotions that no one is aware of all come together each day to form either a powerful bond of momentum or something far more sinister.

If you could select the attitudes of the people in your organization, ones that would propel you to be your best, achieve more, and be stronger as a team, what would they look like? Here are four that I believe would be worthy of consideration. It’s as we embrace a “we” mentality and attitude we can move our teams forward.

We go the extra mile

With this attitude your success is multiplied. With this attitude you will see your colleagues not as adversaries but as valued teammates with talents, gifts, and abilities that may look different than yours, but used for the same goals.

With this attitude you will go the extra mile in doing whatever you can to ensure your mutually shared success. We go the extra mile for each other and with each other for the good of the team not just our individual agendas.

We have each other’s backs

With this attitude your commitment is compounded. Your culture is your people. How that is framed and played out will vary from company to company, but your people make up and determine its culture. When your people possess and take to heart this attitude it will transform your culture.

Think how different your organization would be if the people in it had each other’s backs instead of stabbing it? How different would your culture be if your people stopped talking behind one another’s backs and started talking to each other? Teams that move forward are healthy ones that treat each other with respect.

We hold each other accountable

With this attitude integrity is solidified. The only way going the extra mile with each other and having each other’s backs works is with accountability. For too long in many organizations a culture of back stabbing, back biting, rivalries, and pettiness has been tolerated with too few held to account. The by-product is low morale, high turnover, bullying, and a toxic culture.

The attitudes that work and will move your organization forward are ones by which you hold each other to a higher standard and you hold each other accountable. When team members are accountable to one another the team moves forward with trust.

We value our people

With this attitude relationships take priority. It’s a simple rule of leadership- people are your priority and relationships matter. The health of your organization is determined by the breadth and depth of your relationships. If you want strong and healthy attitudes build strong and healthy relationships. If you want to stop the back stabbing on your team try back patting instead. Rather than words that tear people down, use words that build them up. It’s not complicated.

When your organization understands the basic rule of creating momentum and moving forward it will be intentional about placing value on relationships.

Righting the ship with healthy attitudes can be a slow and painful process within your organization. In the end there may be those who for whatever reason won’t take the journey with you. Let them go. But never give up in embracing the healthy attitudes that can be yours. Too much is at stake to turn back now.

Doug Dickerson is an internationally recognized leadership speaker, columnist, and author. A Lowcountry resident, Doug is available to speak for your civic, business, or church group. To learn more visit

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