10 Team Values for Teams with Purpose

Is there a better feeling than watching the people you mentor or support grow beyond themselves and achieve more than they could even believe?

This feeling is why I try to be a better manager/leader every day: Not only can you go further than being alone, but seeing talent develop has something magical about it (psst.. we’re hiring!).

I have been fortunate that the teams I’ve led always served a bigger purpose, whether this was a much-needed concert program on campus, or a new form of climate demonstration, or creating new concepts for sustainable behavior change. The best management philosophy for such driven teams I have found is to ‘hire exceptionally great people, and get all obstacles to great work out of the way’. But how do you align a team’s outputs without creating too many restrictions for its members?

My answer is to create and agree on positive values and principles as a sort of constitution, rather than negative restrictions of ‘don’ts’. The following set of values which have proven very useful in the teams my projects attract (and I like working with), and I hope they can be helpful to other leaders of teams:

  1. Great teams start with skilled people who trust each other to work toward a common purpose. This trust is the foundation of our team.
  2. Openness and honesty are two of our core values. We keep everything as transparent as possible and try to anticipate other people’s questions. We value a diversity of opinions and encourage team members to speak out, even if their idea is unpopular.
  3. We care for and support our team members. Reaching our common goals is more important than our individual goals.
  4. We are fully committed to our mission, our work, and our stakeholders, and we strive for excellence.
  5. We do things with joy. We celebrate our successes with each other.
  6. We take responsibility and are accountable for our actions.
  7. We are open about our mistakes, and we own them. Making mistakes shows that we are trying something new, repeating mistakes however shows a problem.
  8. We embrace technology and innovation, especially if it is to improve our services to our stakeholders or make our lives easier. We are open to new ways of doing things.
  9. We check our egos at the door. Experience is valued and respected, but ultimately good ideas win over hierarchy.
  10. To outside stakeholders we are always as professional as possible. Internally we are playful and creative. We don’t see this as a contradiction.

If these are helpful, feel free to use them yourself, consider this cc by-sa. If you have feedback (I’m 100% sure these are not perfect), or wish to share some values that have worked well for you, please leave a comment below. Looking forward to your input!