The concept of team culture has been buzzing around the sports world for years, and I've heard rumblings in the esport world as well. But what is it and why is it important?
Have you ever been part of a team that constantly felt like it was dragging you down emotionally? Members lacked commitment to the team, there was no shared identity or goals, and it was filled with negativity towards each other. Or what about the opposite? Being part of the team made you feel driven and motivated, you were excited to get to practice, and there was a sense that everyone was pushing each other to become their best self. These are both examples of what culture can do to a team, and what impact it can have on your own performance and dedication.
The important question is: how do we build good team culture? Let's first breakdown what good team culture looks like.
1) Everyone has a role that matters
- In order for an athlete to perform at their best, they need to have a purpose within the team. Growth, as an athlete, comes from dedication and pushing your limits. But if you don't have a role within the team that matters, what are you grinding towards? Roles with purpose give a higher reason to training and clear skills to improve.
2) Values and Priorities
- The team is pushing towards a unified goal and shares similar values. If all the members on the team have different ideas of what they want to achieve, the team is pushing towards different outcomes and not working together. If we create a clarified goal and a push for a unified effort to achieve it, the team begins working as an united, efficient unit dedicated to conquering their goal.
3) Identifying and working on the bad
- No team is perfect, no athlete is flawless. A healthy team culture is one that doesn't ignore their weaknesses, but actively identifies them and diligently works on improving what's holding them back.
4) Your role aligns with your passion
- Going back to #1, your role needs to matter within the team. Taking that a step further, though: your role needs to suit your unique passion and ability. It's true that perfecting your game will come with doing things that you don't like and aren't fun. However, those "not fun" aspects should serve the purpose of making you better at what you do have a passion for.
5) Take responsibility for your own growth
- Expertise is not an accident. You can have the best coaches in the world guiding you and the best team mates by your side, but no one can make you improve except yourself. Being part of the team means you want to see the team achieve its goals. Your responsibility to the team is that you are committed to improving yourself so that you contribute to that success.
6) Goals are clearly set and progress is measured
- A team without goals is a non unified team. What are the athletes working towards? Why should they put in the effort? What's the purpose of training if we aren't working towards something? Goals give athletes something to work towards and play a key role in keeping motivation alive. Measuring the progress towards those goals helps to reassure that progress is being made, further promoting motivation.
If you're a coach, captain, or play some other leadership role within the team, identify whether or not these components of healthy team culture are present in your team. If they aren't, ask yourself how you can start to encourage and build that into your team.
If you're a member on any kind of team, identify if you're contributing to these aspects of team culture. Even if other members aren't committed to these things, become the influencer of the team.
Photo credit: OrganizedGaming