What is it that makes some groups more successful and more productive than others?
Is it the individual contribution – so called ¨super star¨ model that leads to success? Somehow we believe that the only way to succeed – is to compete, is to get to the top, getting into the right school, getting the best degree.
Margaret Heffernan, author of several books, entrepreneur and the former CEO of five businesses explains, that for the past fifty years we have run majority of the companies and even societies by the superstar model. We are picking the super stars and giving them all the resources. As a result the individual success leads to – aggression, frustration and waste, since super star will put a lot of energy into competition itself.
Do we really need to be super stars to make the difference?
There have been several researches conducted to define what leads to productivity in the groups. Hundred of volunteers participated, they put them into groups and gave them very difficult problems to solve.
Researchers observed that the most productive groups applied the following:
They showed high degree of social sensitivity to each other
They gave roughly equal time to each other, meaning that none of the voices were dominating and none of them were passengers – everybody had a chance to speak and express their ideas
There was healthy environment where everyone could develop trust and collaboration, there were feelings and not instructions
Some of groups shared that there were no stars in their teams, they needed everybody and everyone’s idea was important
According to M. Heffernan, key to team productivity – social connectedness to each other.
Helpfulness is absolutely core for the productive groups and it routinely outperform individual intelligence.
What happens between people – really counts. In a healthy group ideas grow, flow and they don’t spend energy on competing between each other.
How can we drive helpfulness in our Teams?
By investing time to getting to know each other – this is when the momentum happens and team members have a chance to develop trust and collaboration
By following the rule – everybody matters.
Heffernan explains that so called social capital builds trust, and successful teams are particularly resilient in times of stress. Teams that worked together longer – get better, because it takes time to get to know each other, so the time adds value.
It is time to let people motivate each other. Redefine leadership as an activity in which conditions are created in which everyone can do their most courageous thinking.
What about work environment and leaders?
Simon Sinek, leadership expert, explains that work environment matters and leaders set the tone. If the conditions are wrong we are forced to spend our time and energy to protect ourselves from each other. When the environment is safe we will naturally combine our talents and strengths towards reaching the goal.
Leadership is a choice. Great leaders are those who we would follow because we trust and feel safe, not because the instructions are given and that person has an authority on us.
Great leaders give opportunity to their people to try and fail, make their decisions, so they could achieve more than we could ever imagine.
Great examples of leadership and social capital can be found in different social clubs and non profit organisations, where all members of the club are growing. The personal example that comes to my mind – is our public speaking club, where everybody counts. I had an opportunity to work with an amazing group of people of this club, leading and motivating them during the entire year – and the main lesson that I learnt is that people feel when they are loved, when you care about them – they care about you, as a leader. They really do. When they trust you, they feel safe and this is when group reaches it´s top performance, it´s not about instructions, it´s about feelings.
And this is not just about CEOs of the companies, or our managers that we can admire or not, it´s much more than this – it’s the way we treat each other, every day, at work and at home, with friends and with our colleagues.
We all are leaders in different areas – let´s ask ourselves the following questions:
How good we are at bringing the best out of others?
Would our team at work or at home follow us even if we did not have any authority on them?
Where do we spend our energy – on creating the healthy environment and setting the right tone or on picking the super stars and making them out stand among the rest?
And finally, do we really care about people and how they feel? What do we give – instructions or opportunities to grow?