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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! 3 - They Establish Purpose

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Thinking Collaborative


April 23, 2018

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. Coyle professes that the best teams build safety, share vulnerability, and establish purpose. This week, we will take a look at how teams share vulnerability…and it isn’t as scary as you might imagine!

If you look for words that are synonymous with “vulnerable”, you see vulnerable coupled with “helpless, powerless, weak, susceptible.” While this might be a little unnerving, you might try thinking of vulnerability as exposing your humanity (being human) and being transparent, open, and honest about yourself and your capabilities.

And just like the popular song, it takes two! There are two distinct parts to vulnerability. The first part is to show vulnerability. The second part, and equally as important, is how team members respond to the vulnerability that has been revealed. It’s about exchanges of vulnerability. Vulnerability is actually less about the sender (the first part) and more about the receiver (the second part).

How might a group share vulnerability? Groups consciously listen for offerings of vulnerability. An offering might sound like this, “I am struggling with how to engage a certain group of students” or “I am not sure how to teach inference so that the kids really get it” or “This worked last period, but it certainly didn’t work this period and I’m not sure why.” When you hear statements like these, rank is switched off and humility is switched on and receivers offer understanding, reciprocate by sharing their own vulnerabilities, and/or (while living in humility) offer to help.

What might you carefully do to create an environment where vulnerability can thrive? How might you listen for moments of vulnerability and then reciprocate?

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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