A key requirement of every leader is to bind groups together effectively. One of the founding fathers of positive psychology, Dr Martin Seligman devised his Perma model to help us understand the key components of what connects us as humans. His research identified 5 key elements needed to bring a team together.

Not surprisingly being a positive psychologist, Seligman emphasized positive emotion as a binding force in any group. The key is to create an environment in which, in broad terms, your team is happy and understands their tasks and feels empowered to complete them with autonomy. Getting this right will create a sense of engagement in the group so that individuals have stronger relationships and are more committed to a collective goal and common future.

As a consequence, the group is much more likely to have a common purpose and their work more meaning. Collective achievement becomes much more likely which, in turn, reinforces relations within the group and generates further positive emotion.

Story telling can be really powerful tool to catalyze bringing the Perma model to life– positive stories about “us” that demonstrate “our” successes of the past can inform more achievement in the future.

Start with the past and explain the successes behind how the group came to be and how it has survived and flourished until now. Are there any heroes? Might there have been some conflict, perhaps involving those amongst us, whose hard work, resilience and selflessness has enabled significant barriers to be overcome.

Then, move on to the future. What is the next chapter for us as a group? Envision a successful collective future with meaning and so inform what the group is working towards. Paint a picture what might be required to enable next steps and, for example the strong relationships needed to overcome significant hurdles.

Finally, focus on the present. What can we do as a group now to achieve our goals and unite behind a common purpose? Clues can be gleaned from past stories, and be brought to life by our ambitions for the future. However, the focus on the present can be action oriented and give the group a clear idea of what needs to be done now to drive success moving forward.

Binding eclectic groups of individuals with differing backgrounds and ambitions together can be tough. However, referencing different components of the Perma model in powerful storytelling can be a really useful tool for a leader at any level to make their team greater than the sum of its parts.