Strength Of The Pack - Building Culture Within Your Team
By U.S. Army Col. Kevin Capra and Capt. Scott Kuhn
March 30, 2019
In Rudyard Kippling’s novel, The Jungle Book, there is a poem that the wolves use to teach their young about their culture. One of the lines in the poem states; “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
In the Greywolf Brigade we like to say... “We Are…GREYWOLF!” ... because we know the strength of the Brigade does not reside solely in the current Soldiers, leaders and families, but also in GREYWOLF alumni and families who continue to serve and contribute in their own ways. It is about building a culture that promotes individual successes while striving for the betterment of the Brigade, the Division and the Army as a whole.
Col. Kevin Capra, commander of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division motivates the Soldiers of the Brigade prior to the start of the annual Turkey Bowl competition. The battalions competed against each other in flag football, ultimate Frisbee and a tug of war to see who would claim this year's trophy. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Scott Kuhn, Public Affairs Officer, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division)
Whether your team is 20,000 strong or five members of the family readiness group there are some key areas that can help you strengthen the pack and build strong and innovative teams.
Communicate Your Story
A strong culture is built through communication. Start with a narrative—a story that is compelling and authentic. This sets the foundation for who you are as a unit. You must know your unit history. You cannot have a strong culture without knowing your history. It is your history, your present and your vision for the future. Your narrative is a story that helps your people feel they belong and makes them want to stay. It ties them to the past and involves your team members in the next chapter.
In addition to developing a narrative and communicating it across your team take a look a look at how you communicate news (good and bad), changes, goals, and successes. Also, how do you receive feedback? Do you encourage it, listen to it, and respond to it?
Model Your Values
Luckily for those of us in the Army, we have a pretty good set of core values that, if lived and modeled properly, strengthen the culture across all formations. But do you have any additional values? Identify those values and model them every day for your team. Get their buy-in and empower them to address areas where those values are not being met.
Develop Your Team
Whether you are a squad leader or a Division commander, building a strong culture starts with integrating new Soldiers and developing your current Soldiers and leaders. Are you counseling them, engaging with them, sharing your vision for the team? Do you teach them how to engage with their Soldiers or teammates? Do you mentor your junior leaders and do they in turn mentor their junior Soldiers? One of the keys to engaged team members is engaged leaders.
Your organization’s culture is defined by the shared attitudes, values, goals and practices of your team. Our culture in 3rd Brigade is more than just the words “We Are…GREYWOLF!” It is reflected in how we operate, how we engage with others inside and outside of our organization, and in how we live our daily lives. The example of how to do that starts at the top. As a leader, people follow the example you set and the culture will mirror you. “For the strength of the pack is the wolf.”