Five Ideas to Help Develop Your Team Identity


Developing your group or team’s identity can be a challenge. This is especially true when your team is larger and more diverse. However, some things can be done to establish and foster a cohesive group identity. These are to enhance social support, increase the proximity of the members, increase the group’s distinctiveness, create a culture of fairness, and foster and emphasize the team’s similarities.

Enhance Social Support

Effective communication and a shared commitment to team goals are critical. Fostering this type of environment can go a long way for any leader and the group. Some of my favorite ideas for enhancing social support are establishing regular group socials, holding regular team meetings, recognizing goal attainment by individual team members, and breakout sessions that allow team members an opportunity to talk and work together for a common goal.  

However, it is essential to know that each team member will likely require different types of support. This can be a challenge when faced with a larger team. Therefore, creating a team culture that includes things like high fives, team challenges, team chants or mottos, individual and group recognition, as well as personal and team accountability, is important. Above all else, and very much related, we must remember that team structure, emphasized common purpose, and a clear vision are all essential.

Increase Proximity

It may seem simple, but a team cannot bond if they are not given a chance to do so. A leader needs to ensure that they are giving their teams that opportunity. This requires getting your people together, along with the opportunity and time to communicate.

Similar to enhancing social support, ways that I like to make this happen include things like social gatherings and team meetings. Another option is to encourage hangout sessions and breaks before, during, and after class. Additionally, and as a leader, I am a big fan of being the first one in the class and the last one to leave, so ensure that extra time is available if possible.

Increase Group Distinctiveness

As a species, we tend to enjoy joining like-minded people under a common banner. It’s the ability to identify ourselves as unique and unified. This is why nations have flags, teams have uniforms, and individual units have patches and mottoes.

From a team perspective, I am a big fan of establishing a team color scheme, logo, motto, and perhaps even a uniform or t-shirt. These steps are relatively easy to achieve and relatively inexpensive, and this is especially true when you factor in what it does for you. Not only does this help with unity, but it will aid significantly in the team’s recruitment.

Create a Culture of Fairness

Fairness is a critical component of team dynamics. When people are treated fairly, they tend to work together, have fun, and genuinely care about one another. This, too, has a lot to do with your team’s culture, and in that, the leader sets the tone.

For me, this process starts with transparency. Essentially, it is about honesty and openness regarding all things. It requires open feedback, open dialog, and communication. And of course, I am a big fan of committing to listening to your team, ensuring that everyone feels valued, and getting to know each member on an individual level.  

Increase Similarity

People from all walks of life can come together for a common cause when people’s interests are joined, and when a team understands the benefits of supporting one another. It is up to the leader to help establish or point out that common cause and then foster a sense of similarity. However, with a diverse team, that sense of similarity is not always so obvious.

This is where getting to know your people and having regular gatherings comes in handy because by learning about your members and spending more time together as a group, finding commonalities or shared interests to highlight is much easier. Above and beyond that, I am a big fan of continually emphasizing shared purpose and values. This helps establish team norms, traditions, and even advances proximity efforts through shared experiences.

There is plenty more to learn. Be sure to check out my article titled “30 Great Leadership Books for Leadership Pros.


  • Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory & practice. Los Angeles, Calif: SAGE.
  • Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2019). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology.