The Power of a Positive Team

Excerpts from The Power of a Positive Team:

Proven Principles and Practices That Make Great Teams Great

We are better together.

No one creates success alone. We all need a team to be successful. Those are the opening words in The Power of a Positive Team by Jon Gordon. Jon is a great storyteller, and this is a short book. Also filled with practical tips on growing positive teams. Excerpts below provide great leadership moves for our time.

Positive teams don’t happen by accident.

They build relationships and trust. They commit to the mission and to each other. They pursue excellence and strive to get better. They care more, do more, invest more, and accomplish more. Spend time on the culture. Decide what you stand for and what you want to become. Talent is great, but teams are better.

When you know your why and you know your way, you won’t let obstacles get in the way.

Use your strengths for a purpose beyond oneself. Choose purpose-driven goals. Numbers don’t drive people; people with purpose drive the numbers. Use a telescope and a microscope.

Believe together.

Encourage each other. Feed the positive dog. L.O.S.S. = Learning Opportunity Stay Strong. When researchers studied “charmed” people, they were surprised to find that every one of them had experienced misfortune. How can we grow from this? Think like rookies: bring idealism, optimism, and passion. When adversity hits, face it; take it on. Have faith in the future, work hard, make it happen. Positivity leads to action and action leads to results. Great teams don’t give in to the situation.

Remove negativity.

Feed the positive. Weed the negative: confront it, transform it, remove it. No energy drains allowed. Listen with empathy and love, try to understand. Invite everyone onto the bus. Share your vision and ask who is all in.

Be positively contagious.

Be consistent. Not moody. No complaining unless you have a solution. When we are stressed, we go to survival. That shuts down our decision center, prayer center, gratitude center. In a tense moment, we have ¼ second to replace dinosaur brain with positive dog. In tough moments, our job is to communicate and connect.

Communicate, Connect, Commit


Care enough to create meaningful relationships, strong bonds, and team unity. The success of sports teams is directly related to how connected the owner, manager, and coach are. Google’s Project Aristotle says it is connection and emotional safety, more than talent, that drives great teams. More important and productive ideas come from B-teams. It’s about WE more than me.


To connect you must communicate. Communication builds trust. Trust generates commitment. Commitment fosters teamwork. And teamwork delivers results. Where there is a void in communication, negativity fills it. Communication is often the last thing you want to do, but it’s the most important thing you must do.


Listening enhances communication. Seek feedback. Process what you hear. The best listeners truly hear what is being said. Make decisions in the best interest of the team.


Communicate to connect. Bonds are created, trust is developed, relationships are strengthened, and you become more committed. The more connected you are, the more committed your team will be. If you are a connected team, you will outperform more talented teams.

High Performance

Positive, high-performing teams are built and developed through great communication, shared experiences, positive interactions., common challenges, and vulnerable storytelling that connect people at a deeper level.

Build Team

Navy SEALS are famous for their team building work. Exercises that cause people to be vulnerable, transparent, and authentic cause the walls of pride and ego and selfishness to come crumbling down and lead to strong connections and meaningful relationships.

Tools for weekly team building

Here are just a few of the tools included in The Power of a Positive Team


Ask your team, On a scale of 1 to 10 how are we on communication? Why isn’t it a 10? What would make it a 10? Make this a group activity by asking each team member to write their name on a piece of paper. Then circulate it with a prompt like, The part I like best about your communication is …


If you want your team to be like a family … what do you know about your teammates families? Draw names from a hat, get to know that person’s family. Activities like this helped UVA win the national championship for Men’s Tennis 4 out of 5 years.

One word

Each year, pick one word that will inspire you to live with more meaning and mission, passion and purpose.  Do this individually or as a team.

1-on-1 Weekly

Make time for one-on-one communication. Address: challenges, weekly goals, and hot topics. Alternately you share: obstacles, wins, and learning opportunities.

A perfect book for our times

Note: My recent blogs have focused on leading and communicating in crisis. This book reminds us that we are truly “better together.” Just what we need to encourage each other to grow through these challenging times.

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Larry Nyland – Leadership Coach and Consultant.
Seattle Schools superintendent 2014-2018

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