There is one magic ingredient in business. What is it?

September 20, 2017

The one thing I’ve learnt over many years in business, both as an employee and employer, is that if a group of people have a sense of belonging focused on a shared passion they can achieve almost anything together.

People like to belong to a cool group or a winning grow up or a fun group. People just like to belong. Having core values, a mission and a vision that people truly understand, believe in and will do anything for to try to achieve can create a sense of belonging. It goes further when people share those values and those beliefs, then you end up with a very powerful force.

At the team level, a sense of belonging is achieved when you have respectful relationships; respect for diversity in how different people think and work; high expectations and equity in the shared mission; and the self-awareness among team members to know how they affect their colleagues.

Developing that sense of belonging among your team is made easier when you get your hiring right. It’s as they call it a boomerang in that if you start out hiring for the types of personalities who can internalise your values then you build the type of culture that fosters a sense of belonging. You are basically starting with the end in mind.


People who feel they belong to something are more likely to reach out and bring others on board to share that passion. When you have employees who feel isolated from their work or from the rest of the team, you start to see a breakdown in that sense of community. People start to focus on themselves and not the collective group. It also gets a lot harder to maintain that sense of belonging as a business grows. There comes a point when you might start passing people in the corridor and you’ll know the face and name, but not much more about them. That can be a tipping point for a business because not only is there a higher risk of isolation but there’s also the danger of competing groups forming within the company. In saying that however, those rivalries can be healthy, as long as the values that underpin the broader group are still strong.

What you have to defend against is the loss of the values that helped create the sense of belonging in the first place. That’s where your policies and daily practice come into play, because as soon as the reality on the ground no longer reflects the values you say you follow, you are in massive trouble.

You must keep your values and your practice aligned, and your employees are more likely to feel that sense of belonging, engage in their mission, and deliver the passion that takes a business from good to great.

“If we get the right people on the bus, (the wrong people off the bus), the right people in the right seats – we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great” Jim Collins, Good to Great.

Talk to us about how we can help implement a plan with you to ensure the above happens.

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