Group culture is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. We sense its presence inside successful businesses, championship teams, and thriving families, and we sense when it’s absent or toxic. When we look at these organisations, we tend to focus on the people immersed in the culture to gain insight. We focus on what we can see—individual skills. But individual skills are not what matters. What matters is the interaction In the book, Coyle present his finding that cultures are created by a specific set of skills:
• Skill 1—Build Safety—how signals of connection generate bonds of belonging and identity.
• Skill 2—Share Vulnerability—how habits of mutual risk drive trusting cooperation.
• Skill 3—Establish Purpose—how narratives create shared goals and values.
Skill 1 Build Safety
Safety is the foundation on which strong culture is built. Where does it come from and how do you go about building it? People inside highly successful groups to describe their relationship with one another with the same word: not friends or team or tribe but family. What’s more, like families, much of the communication is non-verbal – supportive belonging cues. We used signals long before we used language, and our Belonging cues possess three basic qualities:
• Energy: They invest in the exchange that is occurring
• Individualization: They treat the person as unique and valued
• Future orientation: They signal the relationship will continue
These cues add up to a message that can be described with a single phrase: You are safe here. You see me.
How to Build Belonging
A misconception about highly successful cultures is that they are happy, light-hearted places. Whilst they are energized and engaged, at their core their members are oriented less around achieving happiness than around solving hard problems together. This task involves many moments of high-candor feedback and uncomfortable truth-telling, when they confront the gap between where the group is, and where it ought to be.
Researchers have discovered that one form of feedback boosts effort and performance so immensely that they deemed it “magical feedback.” One simple phrase: I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that youcan reach them.
None of these words contain any information on how to improve. Yet they are powerful because they deliver a burst of three belonging cues You are part of this group. This group is special; we have high standards here. I believe you can reach those standards.