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Come Together

Strengthen your company's foundation by building your team's emotional bond.

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This story appears in the June 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Entrepreneurs are probably aware of the two infrastructures that hold a company together: physical and intellectual. Obviously, you need the physical tools as well as intellectual skills. But Vijay Govindarajan, professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of , points to a third, necessary : emotional. Employees of emotionally bonded companies are motivated to do their best for the corporate good, he explains. "They go the extra distance."

Although an emotional infrastructure doesn't necessarily cost money to build, it can demand more time and attention from the leader than the physical and intellectual ones. In studying families--the longest surviving institution--Govindarajan and his partner, Subroto Bagchi, have revealed eight essential characteristics of a healthy emotional infrastructure. Some of them are proximity, or the availability of the leader in times of need; bonding through adversity, when the team can come together during difficult times; and exclusivity, which creates a sense of privilege. Achieving the eight factors creates in employees a desire to belong and brings the organization closer, says Govindarajan. "[Building this infrastructure] gives you a sustainable advantage."

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