Create a compelling and powerful team purpose

High performing teams have a clear purpose they focus on. They’re clear about why the team exists and what it’s there to do. That way, they make the most of their energy, expertise and experience and it helps them win.

This tool is about making sure your team is clear on why it exists so it stays motivated and has a compass to guide its choices and decisions.

Reading time: 4 minutes

What will it do?

This tool is about making sure your team is clear on why it exists so it stays motivated and has a compass to guide its choices and decisions. Depending on the size of your team and who likes doing this stuff, you can complete it together or get 1 or 2 people to draft it and bring it back to the team to nail it.

This tool focuses more deeply on Step 1 from the tool “Create powerful team goals that really work”. It’s not something most teams do even though it’s essential. Complete it as early in the team’s development as possible and review it every few months to make sure it’s still relevant.

Three steps to take

Get focused on the things that will make the most impact for you

1. Have a team conversation about why the team exists

Capture everyone’s thoughts and views, making sure you’re hearing from everyone and answering these questions:

  • “If we were a group of high performing individuals and didn’t become a team, what would our business, organisation or group miss out on?”
  • “If we did become a team and were brilliantly successful, how would that impact people who aren’t on the team?”

Right now, just gather all the answers. Don’t worry about how the team is going to do it or measure it. That comes later.


Take a look at what you’ve captured and make a note of things that rate highly because:

  • It’s future focused, rather than the typical “what do we need to get done today?” stuff that’s typical of busy people.
  • It feels important – whatever else the team does, it has to achieve this. And whatever else it does, if it doesn’t do this, it’s failed.
  • It unites and inspires the team. It might not inspire everyone to the same degree – in which case go with the things most inspire most of the team.
  • You can see how it would help guide the choices the team will face.

2. Use what you’ve done in Step 1 to write out a sentence or two (not a paragraph or two) that has all the important bits in it.

Don’t worry too much about making it read or sound beautiful at this stage. Do worry about capturing all the key elements as neatly as possible. A Why that’s 80% right that you’re using is much better than waiting to get going until it’s 100% right.

Important bits:

3. Good stuff. Now think about how you’re going to use your Why and keep it alive.

Too often they gather dust on neatly laminated sheets or sit proudly but meaninglessly in company reports. Examples of keeping it alive include:

  • Using it to make and explain the decisions the team makes
  • Referring to it frequently at meetings and presentations
  • Using it to help decide where the team spends time and energy

Keep it to 2 or 3 things and write them down:

What we’ll do to keep the ‘Why’ alive How we’re going to do it

Get serious

The difference between having a plan and making it work is about action. So get this in your diary and download this tool now. Tell the people who need to know so that they can support you and won’t just think you’re being weird. Do it now.

Remember, it’s progress not perfection. You’re looking for gradual improvement, not for Rome to be built in a day.