Creating a New Team Culture

Marshall Goldsmith
3 min readDec 10, 2021

This is a great question. If you answer it honestly.

Your answer could lead to your success or demise as a leader. It could be the key factor in your personal and family relationships.

So, let’s ask it again. Do you play well with others?

Many of us may think “plays well with others” is a category for grading schoolchildren, not grown-ups like us. We tell ourselves, “I’m a successful, confident adult. I shouldn’t have to constantly monitor if I’m being nice of if people like me.”

We may hold ourselves blameless for any interpersonal friction; it’s always someone else’s fault, not ours. “The other guy needs to change. I shouldn’t have to. In fact, I don’t need to, it’s his fault!”

Or we’re so satisfied with how far our behavior has already taken us in life that we smugly reject any reason to change. In other words, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

When my good friend Alan Mulally became CEO of Ford, he set to work to create an environment where the executive team, notorious for not working together, could learn to play well with each other. Through Alan’s leadership, the focus of the team and ultimately the focus of the entire company became, “How can we help one another more?”

It worked. The company survived through incredibly difficult times, and returned to achieving great success again through working together. If Ford had been a schoolyard, and the executives school children, they would have gotten the highest of marks in “playing well with others.

HOW WELL DOES YOUR TEAM PLAY TOGETHER?

You can answer this question with your team by trying this simple four-step process, which I call “team building without time wasting.” The steps are:

  1. In a team meeting ask each team member to rate “How well are we doing?” vs. “How well do we need to be doing?” in terms of teamwork. Have each member do this on paper. Have one of the members calculate the scores — without identifying anyone. One a 1–10 scale — with 10 being the highest score — the average evaluation from over 1,000 teams is “We are a 5.8. We need to be an 8.7.”
  2. Assuming there is a gap between “we are” and “we need to be,” ask each team member to list two key behaviors that, if each other individual team member improved, could help close the gap and improve teamwork. Do not mention people — only behavior — such…

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Marshall Goldsmith

My mission is simple. I want to help successful people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior; for themselves, their people, and their teams.