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How’s Your Team’s Language?

Great teams have their own language. Some of it comes from the coach, and a lot of it comes from the team.

You can hear it in the locker room, the weight room, and on the pitch. You hear it in daily conversations around the office (if that’s still a thing), in emails, or on Slack.

It’s someone referring to a colleague as a “true pro,” and everyone knows what that means. A coach tells a player, “Feed the right wolf,” and nothing more needs to be said after that. I can think of lots more examples. If you’ve ever been on a great team, you can too.

Low-functioning teams are the opposite. Team members are alienated from each other, leadership, or both. The lack of shared vision and common culture takes tangible form in the absence of shared language and cultural touchstones, and those that exist are ironic, toxic, or worse.

You can learn a lot about a team just by listening to the language and stories. You can learn a lot about yourself in the same way.