Been thinking about healthy team cultures and how they develop lately. Decided to try and put those thoughts into pictures (and words). This should be considered a high-level sketch.
Where does it start?
The standard list of ingredients for a healthy team culture are trust and respect. But for a new team, you have to work to obtain both. Start with the hiring of A Players (1A). As many others have demonstated, A Players tend to hire other A Players (2A). Which leads you to the first building block of culture - respect (3A). A team composed of highly variable talents and skill levels will lead to a lack of respect among members. The only way to prevent that is to set the hiring bar appropriately high and making sure it stays there.
But respect is only half the battle
Respect alone won't sustain a team. Team members need to trust one another too, which in theory is simple. You make promises (1B) and you keep them (2B). As the members of a team repeat that loop enough times, they will come to trust one another. Team members who make commitments but fail to follow through will quickly erode trust.
Foundation in place
With both trust and respect firmly in place, you have the necessary ingredients upon which you can build a positive team culture (4). But the next step is what almost everyone gets wrong. The arrow from (4) to (5) only flows in the direction indicated. The foundations of a positive team culture make the social cohesion of the team possible.
All the "team bonding" activities in the world will not create a positive culture!
Anyone telling you that you need more team social events in order to build a strong team culture doesn't understand the problem. They've made a fundamental error with the direction of their causal arrows. Positive cultures make social events possible, but social events cannot generate resilient cultures.
Something you can build on
With the foundation of a team culture in place, and the social interactions they enable, teams can start to develop their sense of unique identity. Through the creation of team lingo (6A) and customs (6B) the team will begin to create an identity separate from the organization that surrounds them (7).
As the team's unique cultural identity emerges, it leads to more opportunities for social integration (5), and the cycle repeats.