Two Questions to Help You Create the Team Culture You Want

By Stephanie Zonars

Two Questions to Help You Create the Team Culture You Want” by Stephanie Zonars was originally published by

The latest buzzword when it comes to leading teams is culture.Everyone is talking about it, but whats it really mean? 

In its simplest form, culturerepresents how groups of people function. Whether a family, team, business or organization – each one has a culture, a way of being. And you can tell what they value just from observing them.

For example, what words come to mind when you think of the following companies?

  • Southwest Airlines
  • Trader Joes 
  • Chick-Fil-A

A lot of folks fly Southwest because they dont charge for bags and let you cancel a flight and book another without a penalty. Flight attendants create a casual and fun flying experience with creative safety demonstrations and scripts. You get the vibe that they actually like their jobs! 

Trader Joes developed an enjoyable grocery shopping experience with employees dressed in Hawaiian shirts who go out of their way to help. They dont accept coupons, but consumers flock there because of the positive environment and the unique, great-tasting food items. 

Chick-Fil-A is known for decent fast-food, customer-service trained employees who say my pleasurerather than youre welcome,and being closed on Sunday.

Each of these companies has a way of being obvious to the people who use their services or come in contact with them. But none of these cultures just happened.Each was created on purpose. The reason they excel and stand out in their industries is because they purposely created a culture drastically different than the norm. 

The same is true for any team. Take the San Antonio Spurs, for example. I absolutely LOVE this video about them! It shows what happens when teams proactively cultivate positive team culture and then relentlessly guard it.

You can literally see the love and trust the players have with one another and with Coach Popovich. Its so, so hard to achieve your team goals when you do focus on creating the right culture. But leaving your culture to chance makes it even harder.

To get started, ask these two questions: 

  1. What kind of culture do you want? Think of 3-5 words that describe it.
  2. What kind of culture do you have right now? (If youre not sure, ask people on the outsidewho interact with your team for descriptors they would use.) 

This blog is all about helping you bridge the gap between your current and desired team culture. 

As we seek to learn together, if you have a team culture success story, please shoot it my way! And if you have a burning question, email it to me. Id love to tackle it in an upcoming post.

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Stephanie Zonars helps coaches build and maintain championship cultures through her business, Life Beyond Sport. Teams at Penn State, Notre Dame, West Point and over 65 other schools have built stronger trust, communication and teamwork through her workshops. Stephanie spent three years on staff with the Penn State women’s basketball team, assisting the team to back-to-back Big Ten Championships. An author of four books, she now serves as Assistant AD of Marketing & Promotions at Cedarville University. Learn more at

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