I get to work with a lot of stellar staff and volunteer leaders who oversee incredible teams. None of these teams are perfect – but many of them have qualities, which set them apart and make them an ideal team environment.

Whether you are a leader building a new team, a fresh leader working with a pre-existing team or even a seasoned leader trying to take your team to the next level – there is one core element that I believe sets a team apart. It is the backbone of a good team that provides strength, stability, flexibility and endurance.

  • Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is skillset.
  • Don’t slide into the assumption that is has to do with longevity.
  • Don’t default into trusting things like training, communication or systems to be the difference maker.

All of those things are helpful and contribute to making a solid team. However, the most meaningful thing you get when you join a team is a relationship. You gain someone to know. Relationships, the healthy connection of one person to another, form a backbone for any team. It doesn’t matter whether it is a volunteer team, a sports team or a staff team – meaningful connection between people on a team creates a context for team health and growth. (Click to tweet)

Because relationships are the most meaningful part of any team, creating ways for people to foster relationships should be a top priority for the leader. When you consider how you might help people join your team and fully land on the team think first through the lens of relational connection.

Relationships are so important on a team for a few reasons.

  • We are hard wired with a desire to engage in healthy connection to others. Therefore relationships on your team form something of a draw to pull people onto our team.
  • We were also created to exist and live within the context of community. Therefore relationships on the team offer something of a sticky factor, helping to keep people engaged.

So whether you are leading a team or simply a highly invested member of a team, find ways to champion the value of relationships and connection. Whether you are focused on getting new team members or keeping current team members remember that the first thing anyone needs on a team is relationships – someone to know.