High School wrestling taught me a lot about shared adversity. We were a strange and gritty bunch of guys that won matches against teams far superior to us on paper. We practiced in a small room that was more a makeshift sauna than practice facility, pushed each other past our limits, and had an amazing coach who was a great leader. I didn’t fully appreciate it then, but we were a fortunate bunch of kids. The daily shared adversity brought us together.
Speaking with other people who have experienced the same deep sense of camaraderie either in sports, the corporate world, or the military – they have all shared the same sentiment. Tight-knit teams are more meaningful and purpose-driven and ultimately outperform their peers.
Since then, I’ve always sought out and tried to build tight-knit teams.
Shared Adversity and Teams
Shaping teams through shared adversity is nothing new. The U.S. Army has been using basic training to turn diverse groups into cohesive teams for over a hundred years. They have turned the concept of assembling, normalizing, and sustaining teams into a science.
According to their research, teamwork is a continuous process of formally establishing purpose-built teams and building shared trust, competence, commitment, confidence, and goals. While there are many methodologies used to build these components, shared adversity has proven to be an effective methodology to authentically expedite and deepen team relationships.
Out of the mutually shared hardships and dangers are born altruism and generosity that transcend ordinary individual selfish interests.8
At risk3sixty, we consciously do hard stuff together. For example, every October, we do a 100-mile relay race through the North Georgia mountains. The race starts at midnight and lasts about 16 hours. It is “a real suck-fest,” as some of our military veteran team members like to say. Not everyone runs, but everyone participates (logistics, moral support, etc.).
After 16 hours, when the final team member crosses the finish line, everyone is already planning next year’s race. The shared adversity brings us together and gives us something to talk about for the next year. Once you’ve run a 100-mile team relay, everything else seems easy.
Why Deep Roots Matter
If you are considering this in the context of your organization, you might be wondering, “why does all of this matter to my company?” For me, doing hard stuff together yields three primary benefits: better team performance, increased team longevity, and deriving meaning and purpose in your work life.
Tight-knit teams perform better than their peers. Better yet, once you form a tight-knit team, it becomes a secret weapon that is difficult for competitors to duplicate. This means better products, better client service, and happier customers. You can’t cheat, spend, or steal your way to authentic team camaraderie. It can only be earned.
The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it. Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare. If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time. – PATRICK LENCIONI
Close teams have less turnover. Reduced employee turnover is better for clients, better for team morale, and saves your company money (studies show that employee turnover may cost between $20,000 per employee and up to 2x the employee’s salary for highly complex positions). Team continuity directly impacts client churn rate and satisfaction as well.
Meaning and Purpose
Here’s where I’ll get a bit philosophical. For me, doing hard stuff and building tight-knit teams is all about building meaningful relationships with other people. Watching people join risk3sixty, develop life-long relationships, and find their purpose is why I do this – otherwise, I’d find something else to do.
When I’m in the trenches fighting for something with people that matter to me,there is no place I’d rather be. And it’s great when doing the right thing for people is also the right thing for the business and for the clients we serve.
Let’s Get Started
If risk3sixty sounds like a place you would like to work – or a team that you would like to help solve your security, privacy, and compliance challenges – you can reach out to us here.