The CEO – Custodian of Team Spirit

 Team spirit is an oft-maligned concept, often associated with teen cheerleading movies and similar ‘GO TEAM’ manic hyperactivity. This is unfortunate and unjust, as enabling and enhancing group sentiment (or ‘team spirit’) is an important part of all collaborative business. Today’s Karen Gately blog looks at the notion of team spirit in greater detail, and unpacks the concept further. The role of every leader is to build and unleash positive energy to achieve an organisation’s vision and goals.  Leading that charge must be the CEO, whose role it is to be the custodian of the organisation’s spirit, the fuel that propels a business to achieve its objectives.

The culture of a business directly and substantially impacts team spirit and is therefore a critical tool and priority for every leader.  I often meet HR leaders and executives striving to improve culture who are frustrated by a lack of ownership and support from their CEO.  The CEO’s focus on the spirit of the team is crucial to improving staff engagement, shifting corporate culture, or influencing performance standards.


The CEO must take ownership and lead; they need to demonstrate personal commitment and consciously model the way.  In other words they must lead by example and be a visible champion through both their mindset and behaviour.  For any organisation to have a strong team spirit the CEO must earn trust and respect; in my experience the things that matter most are their ability to act with integrity and compassion as well as drive accountability and operate with transparency.


The CEO is responsible for ensuring the executive team understand and are committed to achieving business results through people.   Together they must understand and commit to dealing with the reality of the organisation’s current culture and team spirit. As a team it is critical that they adopt a determined, focused & courageous approach and consistently mandate and endorse agreed strategies, programs & policies aimed at building team spirit. Success is determined by the extent to which the CEO holds themself and other leaders accountable.


Supported by specialist experts, the CEO is responsible for defining and executing strategies to grow, protect and harness team spirit.  To enable success they must develop, coach and lead the executive team to ensure they are both capable and committed.  Along with the leadership team, the CEO must take the reins and determine, communicate and apply behavioral expectations that drive the culture of the organisation.  While ensuring appropriate delegation of accountability it is crucial that the CEO guide and influence decision making that is aligned with the organisation’s desired culture.

Organisation Commitment and Investment

It is the CEO’s role to influence the commitment and investment made by all key stakeholders including the Board, executive team, managers and staff.  Equally, investment in expert resources and development of leadership capabilities are important opportunities for the CEO to influence team spirit.

Connect and Engage

Through authentic demonstration of commitment to a healthy workplace culture the CEO has the ability to profoundly impact the spirit of their team.  It is important they proactively foster communication and collaboration and in doing so not only ask for feedback but demonstrate a sincere commitment to listening and learning from their team.

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