Team Leadership

5 Deadly Traits That Will Kill Your Team Unity

When we are unified within our teams or departments, then projects and tasks seem to be easier and we tackle them better.

Unity. We know it when we feel it, but we especially know it when it’s not there. When we are unified within our teams or departments, then projects and tasks seem to be easier and we tackle them better.

Then when different departments and teams work in unison, the whole organization seems to work like a well-oiled machine that cannot be stopped and it benefits everyone! With that being said, I want to share with you something I learned from The EntreLeadership podcast about the 5 deadly traits that will kill your team's unity.

Team unity should be valued above any one team members abilities. As an old African proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." So, if you want your team, and ultimately your organization, to go far, then it is vitally important to seek out and destroy this 5 traits.

A pastor friend of mine describes allowing traits, situations, or people into our lives that we know shouldn't be there as letting a "box of deadly snakes" into your house and thinking that they won't bite you.

It's stupid to think they won't bite you.

Just like it's stupid to think that allowing any of these 5 traits to work themselves into your team (aka your house).

1. Poor Communication

When the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing then strife will set in. We cannot assume that other departments or teams know what we do and how we do it. Remember what your mom told you happens when you assume?

If you're like me, then you probably feel that communicating every last detail, especially more than once, is tedious and unnecessary. I can assure you that it is not. Mostly because what you do isn't as important to those you're communicating with. So, it's ok to communicate more than once or twice about the same thing.

2. Gossip

I thought the definition they gave on the podcast was awesome. They defined gossip as this; when a negative is discussed with anyone who cannot solve the problem.

Negatives should be handed up (your supervisor) and positives hand down (those that report to you) and laterally (your fellow team members). It's okay to get frustrated and angry. In fact, you better care enough to be frustrated with things not being done better. That is called passion.

3. Unresolved Disagreements

One of two actions cause unresolved disagreements; poor communication or confrontation is avoided. Work it out. Appropriately. Leadership author, Jim Collins, talks about great companies encouraging disagreements in their meetings because it gets opinions out in the open, creates better ideas, and ultimately increased team unity.

4. Lack of Shared Purpose

The Bible says, "my people perish for lack of vision". People at your work may not be literally falling over dead because of a lack of shared purpose, but they may feel dead and aimless in their position.

Lack of shared purpose happens when the vision, mission, and goals of an organization are not shared often enough or are understated. Andy Stanley says that it takes hearing a vision at least 21 times before it starts to sink in. So, get to sharing!

5. Sanctioned Incompetence

This one is a silent killer. It happens when a leader allows a team member to not do their job or to do it poorly. This becomes a frustration for those team members that are doing their job and doing it well.

I know you may be thinking, “well, most of these are directed at supervisors and not me.” While some of these can be more influenced by those with titles and positions above where you are now, everyone in an organization has a role to play in making sure these deadly traits are defeated before they kill your team's unity.

I’ll end with this quote...

“It is not only the leaders responsibility to make sure that these opponents are attacked early and often but it is also each team member's responsibility to defend unity in their workplace.” - Dave Ramsey


Which of these five have you seen damage a team you lead or of which you were a part? What effect did it have?

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