You can only have great teams when you nurture courage and bravery in people.

By Michael Nunes | Chief Creative Officer at Monday

How to build trust and an atmosphere of bravery has always been a concern for me. In all my years working in design, and from my recent perspective as a CCO, I believe that people need to feel comfortable around their coworkers.

If we put it in perspective, we spend more time with our coworkers and fellow colleagues than with our families.

This is a reality, and it’s our responsibility to build a culture where people can be their true selves.

Even research shows that diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by significant margins, and in areas where it’s required creativity and new thinking, this type of culture is even more vital. More and more businesses should attain this mindset, especially when we live in a new world of constantly facing complex business problems.

And this, by consequence, requires everyone to channel their entire potential and skills to truly impact our society, which demands to lead by example.

To help you on your journey of building a true culture of trust I’m going to share an exercise about self-reflection that we did here at Monday.

Just a side note try this exercise at the beginning of your team’s day. You can achieve better results when everyone is at full energy. 😄💪

Step 1 — List every aspect of your identity

The best way to start the exercise is with the phrase “I am_______________”

After that, fill in the blank. First, hand out a piece of paper to all your exercising team members. On that paper, write down every word that comes to your mind when presented with the above sentence — yes, expect it to be a long list.

Then, emphasize how important it is to write everything that makes up your identity.

Every time I do this exercise, I give some of my own examples: I am a designer, father, retro motorcycle enthusiast, vinyl collector, and much more.

Remember our identities are composed of numerous aspects of ourselves, not just the little pieces we normally bring to work.

Step 2 — Unpack identities with your team

After having written down their lists, everyone shares their identities with the group. To make it easier, invite each one individually to present their identity aspects. Try to start with someone more at ease with talking in groups, it helps break the ice. After each person presented their list, guide a discussion around what elements of their identities people shared and what they omitted (some may have been purposefully or unconsciously).

Remember we are constantly depriving our friends and coworkers of what makes us, us.

Step 3 — Unveil your undisclosed identities

In this part of the exercise, think about which identities you tend to shelter or hide, and which of them you already brought into your work context.

Try stepping into a new situation, such as meeting a new team, or when you introduce yourself to a room of strangers. What do you normally hide? What do you normally hide?

As Keith Yamashita — author of this exercise — says “we have all this richness about us, and by not sharing these different aspects of our identities we deprive the world of our full talents and full self”.

Step 4 — Unpack identities with your team

Repeat step two. After writing your undisclosed identities share them with your group. This step will feel uncomfortable at first but remember — the goal is to build trust among your team, therefore creating a space where it’s safe to be your full self at work.

Exercise suggestions

  • Have a time frame to write in step 1 and step 3. Normally, I give them 10 to 15 minutes. This helps everyone focus, while also giving them time to really think about who they really are.
  • Be positive and embrace all hard topics that can emerge, especially in the third step.
  • You can unpack identities in a group or separate them into pairs. Personally, I like to unpack them to all the group participants, as it helps to put everyone on the same page.

Have you already tried this exercise or similar to this one? Share with us your experience, we would love to know what you think about a culture that nurtures trust & bravery.

Extra info

If you want to learn more about this exercise, I advise you to follow Keith’s Yamashita. You can find the original exercise article here: You can even find a podcast about this Self-Reflection Activity.

More about Keith Yamashita:

The 3 Habits of Great Creative Teams:

21st Century Leadership:

Thank you for reading

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Monday is a Business Design Consultancy based in sunny Lisbon. We co-create with ambitious leaders to build better businesses. We use strategy & design to transform businesses from within.

This core philosophy stands at the center of everything we create. Clients include: Mercedes, Red Bull, Banco de Portugal, Mars, Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, Philips, Jogos Santa Casa, EDP…

We co-create with ambitious leaders to build better businesses. We use strategy & design to transform businesses from within.