Evaluating talent is getting more scientific. Every team scrambles for an edge. Billy Beane revolutionized MLB with performance analytics. NFL prospects undergo physical agility and psychological tests at the Combine. Leading teams employ a mental conditioning coach, like myself. The latest development in building elite teams looks at how well players will fit a team’s chemistry. Essentially, this is social cohesion and it might just be the next frontier, the cutting edge.
Warriors Lead the Way
The Golden State Warriors have been one of the most dominant teams in the NBA since Steve Kerr took the helm in 2014. They also have an atypical team culture. In a way, they approach basketball like the Clemson University Tigers approach football. The Warriors execute at a high level, but they have fun in the process.
A key to Golden State’s culture is relationships. They’ve created a family environment. Longtime assistant coach Ron Adams told USA Today, “Everyone pitches in. Everyone contributes. Everyone gets along.”
Of course the players and staff spend a tremendous amount of time together throughout a season. Training sessions, practices, physical therapy, meetings, travel and so on.
However, amidst the fast paced tempo of the season, Kerr ensures his team has time to bond outside of basketball. He’s skipped a practice in favor of team bowling or playing touch football. On the road, Kerr has ended practice early so the team could enjoy a leisurely dinner in their host city.
The Warriors organization has put a premium on building relationships, which is what social cohesion is all about.
3 Ways Social Cohesion Gives Teams an Edge
Most coaches and teams focus solely on task cohesion – getting people to effectively work together to accomplish a task.
In contrast, the best teams recruit, draft, and assemble rosters based on fit and team chemistry, common vernacular for social cohesion. It can be defined as “the nature and quality of the emotional bonds of friendship, liking, caring, and closeness among group members.”
Social cohesion is about respect, friendship, trust, and love for each other.
Why do great teams put a premium on social cohesion? Why might you want to follow their lead? Here are 3 compelling reasons:
1. Better Performance
Research show that teams with greater social cohesion outperform teams with less.
In a study conducted by MIT, Stephanie Zonars reports that social connectedness (defined as “the reliance and interdependence that builds trust”) is the key to building high performing teams.
2. Hold to Standards
When teams have higher social cohesion team members are more likely to adhere to agreed upon norms, expectations, and standards of behavior.
Essentially, teams who put a premium on social cohesion have a more unified and aligned culture.
3. We Over Me Attitude
When teammates know, like, and trust each other they are less likely to be selfish.
Selfishness is what causes rifts within a team.
Social cohesion promotes the team first mentality that drives teams to perform at a high level and is what coaches strive for. Greater cohesion means less drama.
Recruit & Develop Players For Fit
High performing organizations spend big bucks evaluating prospects based on fit. They are looking for specific characteristics which best fit the role, position, and team dynamic. These teams understand these benefits and leverage social cohesion to improve team chemistry and ultimately get better results.
Put a Premium on Social Cohesion
If social cohesion means more committed, selfless, and better performing teams, it is easy to see why top teams are investing in it. If, like many other coaches, you’ve placed more importance on simply working together and less on building relationships within your team, it’s time to update your philosophy. Putting a premium on social cohesion – getting your team to like and care for one another – is a no brainer.