Team Dynamics at West Point – A Shared Experience - Page 2
The United States Military Academy often refers to their cadets as future leaders of America’s sons and daughters, and during the ride, I wondered what a business or non-profit team could learn from these emerging leaders. For one, the tough selection process, especially in a time of war, means there is tremendous amount of homogeneity not usually found in today’s work teams. But that’s now what I saw bringing the team together. I saw a shared sense of purpose, a common vision for the future, and a commitment to not let the team down by giving anything less than 100 percent effort. In essence, there was a shared objective, a shared commitment, and a shared sacrifice. The intrinsic reward is simply their place on the team, and a sense of belonging. The only punishment I could envision would be not meeting the team’s expectations resulting in the loss of respect amongst one’s peers.
If your team can create a shared objective you’re half-way there. The other more difficult half is figuring out how to create a shared commitment with a corollary sacrifice. Getting buy-in on sacrifice is the hard part, because that means giving something up (e.g., time, other projects, etc.), and that represents change. And change is something most people abhor. Successful change occurs when motivations and rewards are aligned, and the inevitable, “what’s in it for me” is much harder to calibrate on a diverse team. But as they might say at West Point, leadership is not for sissies, and the reward is in the privilege of belonging to something bigger than oneself.