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Showing Your Spirit Builds Sense of Belonging

May 18, 2020

We talk about teamwork all the time -- at work, in sports, at home. What Mom hasn’t used the “teamwork” pitch to goad her teen into helping do the dishes or mow the lawn? Teamwork enables us to do more, and do it better. In most sports and the vast majority of businesses, it takes an entire group of people to achieve the end-goal, whether that’s attracting more customers or scoring more points than the competition.

So we know why we need teams, but what does it mean to be on a team?

It feels good to be part of a team

We feel wanted. Valuable. Recognized for our contributions, however large or small. We feel empowered to be our best selves. We learn excellent life skills such as:

 

  • Leadership
  • Accountability
  • Sharing with others
  • Caring about others

 

Great coaches and at-work managers take special care to inspire that special something we call “team spirit,” in large part by instilling a feeling of inclusion. Why? Because individuals who feel good about being part of the team are notoriously stronger, more loyal teammates in any setting.

How can you build that sense of inclusion?

Teams come in lots of flavors – sports teams and club teams (robotics, culinary, etc.) at school, schools themselves, families, too. Think Team Smith at your annual reunion. Managers and coaches (and, yes, moms) also know they can’t expect peak performance from their teams without giving them the right tools and resources.

Uniforms are an obvious resource. For one thing, they are practical. You can’t throw to a teammate or root for your designated player from the stands if you can’t identify them out on the field. After all, good sportsmanship doesn’t go as far as accidentally cheering on the opposing team! And while the practicalities of uniforms may not always apply in the workplace, give your work teams decorated apparel, and you can be sure they’ll be wearing those items around the office as well as after hours.

Show the world

You can go around telling everyone you meet that you’re part of a team or proclaiming your “fanship” of your favorite team. But we all know that a picture is worth much more than words. Wearing decorated apparel says it all, no matter where you go. That’s because when it comes to showing team spirit, matching gear that displays team logos, colors, etc. enables everyone participate.

Not only team members, but coaches and team managers, parents and other relatives, alumni, and community fans can all feel included by association. Feeling included strengthens our sense of:

 

  • Unity - everyone knows this is your team. And the team knows just how much their fans appreciate watching them perform, whether that’s on the field or the court, on the debate stage, at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, or the company picnic.
  • Pride - players aren’t functioning as a bunch of individuals, they’re functioning as a single unit, everyone doing their own part to bring home a win.
  • Identity - uniforms show team style and personality, further boosting pride. The University of Oregon football team, with financial backing from alumnus and Nike founder Phil Knight, has become famous for their seemingly unlimited wardrobe of snazzy uniforms, all of a theme but all different. Fans love to cheer on the new uniforms as much as the team, and they get a lot more choices in spirit wear, too.
  • Equality - it is the nature of teams, especially in sports, that some members contribute more than others. Yet every member is equally valued. Identical uniforms for all underscores this sense of equality.
  • Exclusivity - after all, not everyone is part of the team.

 

In short, decorated team wear shows you’re part of the team even when you’re apart. And speaking of being apart – schools have been holding virtual spirit weeks during COVID-19 stay-at-home time, sharing photos and videos of each other wearing their uniforms or spirit wear. To them we say, “Go Team!”


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