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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

What the Best Teams Do to Be the Best Teams!

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


April 02, 2018

Have you ever wondered what makes a team great? Daniel Coyle in his bestselling book, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, shares three key elements he has found that makes teams highly effective. In writing his book, Coyle spent four years studying world class teams. He interviewed the Navy SEALS, PIXAR, and even some highly successful teams of jewelry thieves! When Coyle wove these interviews into research, he found three elements that created team trust, increased cooperation, cultivated motivation, and produced high performance. Coyle professes that the best teams:

1. Build safety,

2. Share vulnerability, and

3. Establish purpose.

Building safety is more than offering a sensitivity training or providing a feel good professional development or retreat. While these activities can help, safety is grounded in day-to-day social exchanges. Through actions and conversations, community members display their commitment to invest in each other’s sense of well-being.

To share vulnerability means to reveal one’s humanity, to acknowledge that we don’t know everything and that we can’t do it all. It’s called “being human” and it’s about recognizing that we are in a constant state of learning. And…there’s an essential second component to sharing vulnerability and that is that vulnerability is reciprocated. It then becomes a shared vulnerability. Read more about this in Week 3.

Establishing purpose is about naming and ranking priorities and then articulating those priorities so that everyone feels a responsibility to attain the purpose that is collectively held. Here’s a hint at what invariably is the top priority for successful groups: it’s all about building in-group relationships.

Got your attention? We’ll explore these three elements in greater depth during April.

To read more, buy the book The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle or see bestselling author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree, Eric Barker’s blog: “This Is What The Best Teams And Families All Do: 3 Rituals From Research” at

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