Team building can be achieved by developing focused, inspirational messages.
It’s amazing how much impact these words can have on team motivation.
I’ve written before about the importance of strong leadership messages when speaking a in corporate or presentation environment, and great leaders know that effective team building happens when your team is driven by a shared and inspirational message.
Here’s a sports example – the Fremantle Docker’s recent success in the AFL, particularly their elimination-finals win over reigning champions Geelong.
Fremantle’s message: ‘Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime’
The Fremantle players ran through a banner that read: ‘Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime’. This is the leadership message new coach Ross Lyon has focused on all year.
At first glance, you might see this as a simple team slogan. But when leadership messaging is done right it can drive behaviour.
In fact, one sportswriter described the phrase as “an encapsulation of their philosophy under coach Ross Lyon.”
The clarity of a galvanising message can make a team feel like they are on a mission.
Another sportswriter hinted at the power of the words: “It was a prophetic message given the Dockers were not once overawed by the scale of the task in front of them”.
Aiming for its first finals win outside of Perth, Fremantle was in uncharted territory. The power and effectiveness of these three simple words went a long way to building inspiration and commitment in the Fremantle team.
Why is this a great leadership message?
Why did this leadership message work so well? Because it was tailored to Fremantle’s history and current challenge – and contained the answer to those challenges.
Based in Perth, they have to travel across the continent for important matches and play on unfamiliar grounds, with little crowd support.
So for the players and staff overall, this message became personal, relevant and focusing.
Lyon has preached the mantra of ‘Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere’ all season long, so it was not a hollow platitude. From the very beginning, the words acted as a linchpin to his strategy for team motivation and mission.
Make sure your message is relevant
What’s at play here is the simple, but critical insight – that messages drive teamwork.
But leadership messages are far more than just words. The danger comes about when words are just spoken, but not lived.
For example; “Champions are not born. They are built” loses all of its power if the words are not immediately relevant to the team; they become hollow. That’s what most mission statements, mottos and messages become – hollow, ineffective – a waste of time.
In 2007, I worked with the Hawthorn Football Club to clarify their club message. We needed to address 3 key challenges:
- A physical move from their home ground and social club with 100 years’ history
- New management that the fans and members didn’t yet trust, and
- Concern that a sponsorship deal with the State of Tasmania might mean the club would move there — a terrifying prospect for devoted fans.
We addressed these concerns with message that guided the whole organisation and focused everyone’s communication:
“We aim to be the most professional club in the competition”
This simple message helped the whole organisation focus on the same goals without the need for micro-management.
You can see how this message drove people’s communication around the 3 challenges:
- Why the move from the traditional ground? … It was a required move if we are to be the most professional club.
- The new management is taking our club in an unknown direction … We need to make bold decisions if we are to be the most professional club;
- Why the strong link with Tasmania? … The Tassie sponsorship generates both new members and vital cash – both of which are required to be the most professional club in the AFL competition.
- (Bonus) …And being the most professional club gives us the best chance to win a premiership flag.
The focus, clarity and inspiration in being “the most professional club” helped to eliminate the uncertainty and doubts surrounding the changes.
Call it a mantra or a motto, message development can focus attention to build an inspired team and move them to significant action.
Vivid Learning has conducted Message Development sessions for Telstra, CSIRO, Walt Disney and many others. Contact us if you’d like your team to discover, distill and communicate highly effective messages to achieve your goals.