Does Camaraderie Imply Commonality?

What we have in common can be a powerful springboard to meaningful connections. It’s often easier to connect with people who are like us. Similar personality styles, similar values, similar life experiences, or similar interests. The list can go on. The more intersecting points the easier it can be to build camaraderie when we work together.

Does camaraderie, however, require commonality? I would like to suggest that differences have a greater potential to enhance camaraderie. Reflecting on unity as a way of thinking about camaraderie led me to 1 Corinthians 12. I was impressed, after reading this chapter,  that alignment with Christ doesn’t necessarily look like everyone is believing and doing the same things. Alignment with Christ allows us to be united in our differences. When we have Christ alignment, then the arms will do what arms do, feet will do what feet do and the heart will do what hearts do. There is a synchronization that happens, not a sameness.  

There can be many ways to apply and think about this scripture, but I want to zero in on just one simple application. As leaders, how can we leverage commonality but also embrace diversity on our teams to accomplish our God given mission with a stronger sense of camaraderie?

Benefits of going “beyond commonality” on a team:

1. Operating in the strengths zone. A variety of skills, talents, strengths on a team creates capacity for members to focus on what they do best. People won’t automatically fall into their sweet spot. If you have diverse strengths on the team, your challenge will be clarifying roles, helping people “stay in their lane” and managing the balance between energizing work and those things that don’t energize anybody. Powerful camaraderie comes from the ongoing conversation around leveraging differences as part of the team’s DNA.

2. Richness of perspective. Our frame of reference is like a lens that filters what we see and what we don’t. If we have access to multiple lenses within the team to view situations, problems, or opportunities then our overall perspective is enhanced, though sometimes also confused. Willingness to engage the confusion arising from the complexity of differing perspectives and working it through together creates a genuine camaraderie that builds a deeper trust.

“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”

~Stephen Covey

3. Well thought out decisions. Personality theory would tell us that we each notice information differently and we use different criteria to evaluate our choices. Thus, if we are lacking in our diversity, we can fall into the trap of making quick decisions with limited information and narrow criteria. That’s fine for those decisions requiring an immediate response with a limited impact. For decisions with a broad impact, bringing groups together to leverage a breadth of perspectives and evaluate different angles can enhance decision making. The extra bonus is creating shared ownership in the decision that fuels camaraderie even at the execution level.

Commonality can launch teams more quickly into camaraderie. However, the drawback is that the more a team has in common, the more narrowly individuals can perceive the way work gets done. To overcome this drawback, these teams can:

  • Seek outside guidance to notice what they tend to miss
  • Stretch themselves to learn things that may not come naturally
  • Challenge sameness by playing “devil’s advocate” while discussing issues and opportunities
  • Research what others are doing and thinking broadly before choosing to act
  • Add future members to the team with more diversity

What’s Next?

A key to unlocking camaraderie is identifying the composition of your team to build on both differences and commonalities! If you are interested in enhancing camaraderie to increase engagement and fuel productivity, check in with me for a free conversation to get you started.

What are some of the benefits you have experienced working with someone who is different from you? How has it stretched you? Comment below.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

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