The Reality Group: the ingredients of an excellent team culture

Shared purpose, trust, delegation, diversity of thought, transparency, feedback, productive emotional tone, battle-testing

"The Reality Group" is a team with an excellent working culture: effective, empathetic, grounded in reality, making good decisions.

The Reality Group is a concept described by Robert Greene. The ideas are closely related to those from Dynamics of effective teams and “The Culture Code”.

These are the necessary, but not sufficient ingredients for creating The Reality Group culture (per Greene):

Shared purpose

It's obviously good that everyone in the team shares a common purpose. The "Purpose" section in “The Culture Code” provides elaborate ideas about how to cultivate it.

A clear shared purpose makes it less attractive for the team members to form smaller subgroups ("factions") to "draw a narcissistic boost from the inner circle of validation".

Members rely upon and trust each other

This is particularly important that the group leader(s) can delegate the work and trust it will be done properly, freeing mental space for more strategic thinking.

This corresponds to the second most important of the dynamics of effective teams: dependability.

The key principles for selecting group members

  • Members should be trustworthy: diligent and competent. (See above)

  • They should have complementary skills.

  • They should have diverse temperaments, opinions, and backgrounds❗

  • They should be willing to speak up and to take initiative.

Treat everyone equally

Equal treatment of team members reduces envy and politics.

Equal treatment of people's ideas is also important: the team members are less likely to waste their energy in Status management if they trust that good ideas and decisions prevail regardless of the status of the person who expresses them.

Let the information flow freely

When group leaders are transparent, members don't seek status to get access to the "secret information".

Encourage Thoughtful disagreement and learning from mistakes.

See also:

Infect group with productive emotions

Humans are social animals, emotions are contagious in the groups. The group leaders should try to instil the following emotions through their own example:

  • Calmness

  • Positivity

  • Persistence and antifragility (see Reversal of Desire)

  • Confidence (but beware: it's very easy to fall into complacency or hubris)

Battle-test the team

It's easy to be wise and positive when everything is fine, but the true quality of the group reveals when it goes through a battle or a crisis.

Remember: don't delay grooming the group culture

As Greene emphasizes, the longer the team exists and the bigger it is, the harder it is to change the existing culture. Many people join groups and think they can alter their culture, but much more often the opposite happens: the group culture swallows the new member. They don't even notice how their beliefs and behaviour change to fit into the group culture.

So, if there is something to improve in the group culture, you should work on it as soon as possible, or it could be too late.

Peter Thiel puts it shorter: Don't Fuck Up the Culture.


The Laws of Human Nature” by Robert Greene, Chapter 14

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